Britain has a considerable number of teams in the various Footy Leagues. These are some of the more notable ones. Many of the bigger British clubs are currently owned by foreign investors.
Historically, which club Britons support has been a matter of home town pride, or tribal affiliations where there is more than one club in a city, or familial connections if there are no clubs where you are, which is very rare due to there being over 40,000 teams in England alone. A Mancunian doesn't just arbitrarily decide one day to support United or City, he is born in a City-supporting household, in a City-supporting area of town. Changing allegiances was (and still is) very rare.
These days, Sky Sports' blanket coverage of the English Premier League has led to a generation of younger fans who reject home town loyalty in favour of supporting someone who might actually win something, and whom they can watch on TV down the pub, admiring the silky skills of highly-paid players. Standing on an unroofed terrace on a rainy October afternoon cheering on a bunch of no-hopers playing mediocre football for the Johnstone's Paint Trophy just doesn't seem quite the same. Although traditionally most people support a Premiership team and a local team, even if they would rather watch Arsenal and Manchester United play at Wembley then some club up the road.
Of course, this has lead to the dreaded accusations of 'glory hunting' amongst some fans. A glory hunter is someone who suddenly supports a succesful club, although they have with very little local or family connection to said club and seem to be jumping on the bandwagon of success. It's an accusation that your support in not sincere, and therefore calling someone a glory hunter is the worst insult one fan can give another. On the other hand, it's only logical that a team winning competitions will likely gather respect and new support.
For well other the past decade, Manchester United was universally reviled due to constant homegrown success on the pitch, and therefore all their fans were deemed by everyone else as 'glory hunters'. Now that local rivals Manchester City have shaken the balance of power, many 'new' fans of Man City have had the accusation of glory hunting aimed at them - giving the Red Devils a break.
A note, incidentally - British teams don't wear "uniforms", they wear a "strip" or a "kit". Each club has a "home kit" for most games, a kit for away games where the home kits clash and sometimes even a kit for when both clash. We are describing the former. These kits, especially for the bigger clubs, have a tendency to change on a season-by-season basis, bringing in more money for the replica shirt sellers.
The two main programs for Football Coverage in the UK remain Match of the Day on Terrestrial TV or Soccer Saturday on Sky.
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The Home Nations
Based at Wembley Stadium, London, England.
Won the World Cup in 1966, still their only major trophy to date. Traditionally play home games in white shirts and navy shorts, with their away kit usually red shirts and white shorts, the colours in which they won in 1966. Grey has also been known on one infamous occasion. Despite the 40+ years that have passed since their one and only triumph, great things are still expected every time. Has a well-known problem with penalty shoot-outs, being eliminated in the '90, '98 and 2006 World Cups and Euro '96, 2004 and 2012 on penalties.
England frequently receive a pasting abroad for considering themselves a world championship side despite not having won the trophy in over 40 years. However, when you consider that a) only 8 countries have ever won the World Cup, and b) England remain one of a relatively small number of teams to consistently make it to the later stages of the tournament, this doesn't seem quite so fair.
Albeit they reached the semi finals only once since then (in 1990 when they came in 4th), did not qualify three times and meandered between quarter finals and the round of 16 the other times. Altogether tied 3rd (with Italy, behind Brazil and Germany) for quarter final appearances but a measly tie for 9th place (with seven other countries) for the semis. So yes, a comparatively strong side, but rarely considered a serious contender or favourite to win.
Based at Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland.
Play in navy shirts and white shorts, and were ever-present at World Cups in the past without ever managing to get past the first round. In a bit of a slump at the moment and have failed to qualify for anything since 1998.
Well known for the Tartan Army, among the better behaved and better liked supporters of a national team.
Based at Windsor Park, Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Play in green shirts and white shorts, and spent some time in the 1980s punching well above their weight, reaching the second round of the World Cup despite being the second smallest country ever to qualify. George Best, of Manchester United in the 1970s, is probably their best (and best-known) player of all time.
Based at Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales.
Play all in red. Managed to make the World Cup quarter-final in 1958, but Wales is really rugby territory and the team has never enjoyed much success since. John Charles played well for them in the 1960s, and Ryan Giggs of Manchester United is their most famous recent player.
Gareth Bale is an up-and-coming star for Wales, coming into his own at the same time Giggs is nearing the end of his career. Just before the end of the summer 2013 transfer window, Real Madrid purchased him for a fee of what some sources reported as €100 million (£85 million), which if accurate would be the largest transfer fee in history.
Until the 1980s, these four teams played a tournament known as the "Home Nations Championship". The national pride inspired some epic performances, especially from the smaller nations against England, but also led to some ugly hooliganism, which is why it was discontinued. There are hopes for a revival in the next few years.
Additionally, the Republic of Ireland is often regarded as an honorary Home Nation, due to the close links between Britain and Ireland. The bit in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire where the (emphatically English) Weasleys (and others) energetically root for Ireland in the absence of a British team is quite true to life (except in footy rather than Quidditch, obviously).
The Football Association (England)
The current big clubs:
"Good old Arsenal! We're proud to say that name! While we sing this song we'll win the game!"
AKA "The Gunners". Play in red and white. Based in North London at the Emirates Stadium, replacing their historic home of Highbury. Was British-owned until late in 2010 when American Stan Kroenke launched a takeover of the club. Have not won the Premiership since 2004 and since them have come 4th three times and 3rd twice. However last time they won it they went unbeaten.
Historically (if you go back to the origins) the Gunners originate South of the River at Woolwich Arsenal. Hence both the names, and the gun logo. They were the first southern team to join the football league in 1893!
Aka "Villa", "The Villa" or the "Villans", this is a Birmingham based Premiership side, fairly inconsistent in that league. Formed in 1874, they have seven league titles and seven FA Cups to their name, spent 98 seasons in the top flight in total and have also won the European Cup (back in 1981-82). Play in claret and blue, which West Ham copied. American-owned, they play at Villa Park, leading to the clichéd line "Thriller at the Villa".
There are a lot of fictional Villa fans, including Frank Pike from Dad's Army.
Could be considered The Artifact of the Premier League. Everton and Aston Villa were founding members of the Football League, and neither have been relegated from the Premier League in its current iteration. However, while Everton consistently challenge for European football, Villa are lower mid-table and battling relegation.
"So cheer us on through the sun and rain! Cos Chelsea, Chelsea is our name!"
A West London club nicknamed "The Blues" or rarely "The Pensioners" (the Royal House in Chelsea serves as a retirement home to veteran soldiers), they're owned by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich and accordingly have done rather well by buying up the best players. Play in all blue with white socks, they play their home games in Stamford Bridge, in nearby Fulham. Despite being bought by an Oligarch, Chelsea had a reputation of being somewhat underachieving, though not to the degree of Arsenal. This finally broke for them when they won the Champions League in 2012.
Had some bad luck in Europe in recent years, being knocked out of the UEFA Champions League semi-final stage more than once thanks to contentious decisions. In the 2009 home leg against Barcelona, the referee missed several clear penalties and had to flee the UK after getting death threats.
They were the first London side to win the UEFA Champions League (2012), beating Barcelona in the semi-finals and winning a penalty shoot-out against Bayern Munichnote bucking the "trend" of the English succumbing to the Germans on penalties.
Take striker Andriy Shevchenko, whom Chelsea purchased for £30 million. His Chelsea career amounted to 77 games and 22 goals. The mathematically astute among you may have already calculated that this comes out to about £1.36 million per goal.
Similarly, striker Fernando Torres cost Chelsea a whopping £50 million. Presently, he's played 125 games and scored 32 goals. That's £1.56 million per goal.
To put that into perspective, Chelsea have spent more money on compensating their sacked managers than Everton have spent since the Premier League began.
AKA "The Blues" (other than Chelsea) or more commonly "The Toffees", based in Liverpool. They have nine league titles to their name and have spent a total of 105 seasons in the top-flight (this makes Aston Villa v. Everton the most-played tie in history). Play in blue shirts, white shorts and blue socks, they call Goodison Park their home ground, after moving out of Anfield.
Previously thought of as the team that would break the "Big 4" thanks to strong league and cup runs in the middle 00s (culminating in Champions League qualification in 2005), but have since dropped to mid-table, with financial hardship preventing major squad investment. Still widely considered a 'dark horse' side and one likely to cause upsetting score lines for the big teams.
Part of one of (arguably) the most famous rivalries in Football, with the neighbouring Liverpool FC. This has ranged everywhere from friendly competition to seemingly utter hatred over the hundred plus years of the clubs existence. Currently seems to be the latter as of 2012.
AKA "The Anfield Reds" or just "The Reds"note Anfield is their home ground, which is formerly occupied by crosstown rivals Everton. Anfield is only added to the name to distinguish the team from the other red team at Manchester is the other Merseyside club. Won everything in sight in the 1970s and 80s, and have 18 league victories. They have the most Champions' Leagues in England (5). Fans famously sing "You'll Never Walk Alone", a song originally from the musical Carousel. Well known outside of football for the Hillsborough Disaster, where 96 fans were crushed to death prior to an FA Cup semi-final. Their rivalry with Manchester United is so intense it's pretty much hatred.
Infamous (like Arsenal) for fizzling out dramatically; they made a decent challenge for the title in 2008/09, but hit a stumbling block around November the following season. They had to rely on Chelsea, Tottenham, and Portsmouth to get into Europe by the skin of their teeth.
Merseyside derbies are sell-outs and pretty scrappy matches - they have more red cards than any other games. Although in times of need both sets of fans can become very close, after Hillsborough there was a chain of scarves connecting Anfield and Goodison Park.
AKA "City" or "The Blues". The other major club from Manchester, perhaps unfairly defined by long-standing rivalry with crosstown Manchester United (For the non-Brit footy fans out there, Imagine the LA Clippers and the NY Mets in relation to the Lakers and the Yankees. That's how they compare Man City to United). In their 117-year history they have won the league twice (last in 1968), and until recently were not a force to be reckoned with.
However, in 2008 an Abu Dhabi-based investment group took over the club, bringing in massive amounts of finance. In turn this brought several experienced international stars to the club, making City serious trophy contenders. Following their 2011 FA Cup victory they beat Manchester United to the 2011-12 Premier League. Thus, they are now considered part of the "Big 4," usually at Arsenal's expense.
The Premiership title was won with a 94th minute 3-2 win over QPR in the last game of the season. Had the match ended at full timenote 90 minutes, City would have lost 2-1 and conceded the Premier League to Manchester United by two points. The victory put them level on points, but with a greater goal difference.
"And the team that gets me excited? Manchester United!"
AKA "Man Utd", "The Red Devils" or just plain "United". Based at Old Trafford (ironically located in Stretford), the biggest club ground in the land. England's most successful club, with major honours including 13 Premiership titles (20 league victories overall), 11 FA Cups and 3 Champions' League titles.
Probably the most famous football club in England, and for that matter the world, with an official fan club that comprises 5% of the planet's population. They are also the world's largest sports club, last valued at £1.6 billion ($2.5 billion). Because Manchester United fans can be found around the world (witness the incredibly lucrative promotional tours in the far east) it is often said - by City fans- that real Mancunians support City. Which is of course, nonsense, as Manchester is very divided between City and United and United had a solid large fanbase before the worldwide success of the Nineties.
Has a long standing rivalry with City - the fact that it is located at Stretford (techincally outside Manchester, but within the Greater Manchester Area) makes most Mancunians who are not fans treat United as a bastard team to the area, though Mancunian United fans will bite back. That said, much like the Liverpool/Everton rivalry mentioned above, there are times where the fans will unite, such as the anniversary of the Munich plane crash in 1958 which killed several members of the United squad & left several others seriously injured.
Thanks to their almost total domination of the domestic game from the early-mid 1990s to the present, it seems impossible to be neutral about Man Utd - you're either a fan, or you hate them - though this had slackened with City winning the 2012 title. Currently American-owned, which doesn't help. Play in red, white and black, although fans have recently adopted historic green and gold colours to protest at the possibly precarious financial situation the owners have put the club in, such as offloading their own personal debts on United.
The recent influx of absurdly lucrative sponsorship deals has helped to calm the protests - United fans still dislike the Glazer family ownership of the club, but will accept that they seem to be running the commercial side well (and perhaps more importantly, leaving the football side well alone).
To give you an idea of their success, they have more Premier League titles than all of the other winners put together. A lot of this is down to their recently retired manager, who had been at the job for over a quarter of a century. The fact that he's called Sir Alex Ferguson indicates something.
The 2013/14 season of the Premier League is the first time since 1987 that Manchester United won't have Ferguson at the helm. His replacement is Everton manager David Moyes, who was actually Ferguson's handpicked successor.
AKA "Spurs" - the nickname is almost universal. Great rivals with North London neighbours Arsenal. Play in white and navy [blue]. Are considered one of the most entertaining sides in the Premiership, with an expansive style that concedes many goals, but scores many more.
Spurs are notorious for their Chairman, Daniel Levy, being one of the toughest negotiators in football. His ruthlessness has seen Tottenham Hotspur pick up some classy bargains (Van Der Vaart for £8million), recoup losses on expensive flops (Darrent Bent sold for the exact amount he was bought for) and sell players for some obscene amounts. (Gareth Bale being sold for a World Record Transfer fee of £85 million).
At the end of the 09/10 season Spurs became the team that broke the "Big 4" (the first since Everton in 04/05) and gained the chance to qualify for Champions League football. They did well in the Champions League, beating top Italian teams AC Milan and Internazionale, before going out in the quarter-finals to Real Madrid, but failed to qualify again for the next season.
They subsequently placed in the Top 4 following the 2010/11 season but due to the unprecedented achievement of Chelsea in coming 6th but managing to win the Champion's League, Tottenham failed to qualify. Which made them the first team in Football to place within the Champions League Qualification places but fail to qualify due to a lower-placed side winning the Tournament.
Former greats, interesting stories and other notable clubs:
This is the third club of the name, currently in League Two after winning the Conference in 2006. The other two clubs went defunct and the name of the club has long been used for joke purposes, like "He's only good enough to play for Accrington Stanley".
For a long time, Accrington Stanley graffiti was used (especially in comedy) to show that a place was so run down that the graffiti hadn't been cleaned up since the club was playing, a joke sometimes lost on today's audiences.
Currently in the English second tier (the Championship). Despite having very little success throughout their history (2 League Cup wins, 1963/2011), they were the first English team to ever take part in European competition. They are also the first English team ever to reach a European Cup final, in both 1960 and 1961, although they lost on both occasions. They will compete in Europe in the 2011/12 season for the first time in around 50 years after qualifying for the Europa League through the League Cup. Rivals to Aston Villa.
Formerly found floating around the middle of the Premier League, Blackburn are one of only five teams to ever win the Premiership, thanks to a spending spree in the mid 90s (and having Alan Shearer before Newcastle did), letting them legitimately(?) claim to be better than Liverpool, Everton and City. Relegated to the Championship in 2011/12, and almost suffered another relegation in 2012-13 after being run very well by Indian poultry farmers Venky's.
AKA "The Clarets" from their claret and blue kit. One of the 12 founder members of The Football League. Notable for a pretty large fall from grace in the 70s and 80s, going from top-flight football to narrowly surviving relegation from the Football League. Promoted to the Premiership for the 2009/10 season after winning the Championship play-offs. Historically, they are fierce rivals of Blackburn Rovers due to sheer proximity (8 miles down the road).
A team from the largely rural county of Suffolk who enjoyed a brief period of success in the late 1970s. England's two most successful national managers - Sir Alf Ramsey (who won the World Cup in 1966) and Sir Bobby Robson (who reached the Semi-Final in 1990) - both began their management careers at Ipswich.
One of the powerhouses of English football in the 1970s (albeit with a very bad reputation), but some overambitious financial planning in the early 2000s almost ruined the club completely and saw most of the best players leave. Have started to climb back up the leagues after briefly playing in the third tier. Play all in white after legendary manager Don Revie changed their colours to those of Real Madrid, the leading club in Europe at the time.
Modestly successful Championship side, famous mostly for their rowdy fanbase and extremely violent hooligan firm, the Bushwhackers, fictionalized in films like Green Street and The Football Factory. Got to the League One play-off final, but lost 3-2 to Scunthorpe. Lost to Man Utd in the 2004 FA Cup final.
In recent years, however, the traditional "violent Millwall fan" image has begun to become a bit stale, as violence has largely decreased. Frustration at media demonization has led to the latest chant heard at The Den: "No one likes us, we don't care!"
AKA "The Magpies" for their black-and-white striped kit. Perennial underachievers - always looking good on paper but never ''quite'' translating it to success on the pitch. Vocal and passionate support in sufficient numbers (their fans are known as "The Toon Army") to still describe themselves as a "big club", but haven't won the League since 1927 or the Cup since 1955. To be more precise despite a long period of not winning anything, they still maintain the third biggest club stadium in the UK or to put in an American equivalent a stadium slightly bigger than that of the New York Yankees! Which is consistently packed out every season, Put simply, in Newcastle you can't be considered a true Geordie unless you support the team. The club is owned by a London businessman who does not turn up to St. James' Park on the reasonable grounds that the fans hate him. Playing wise, they are considered a dark horse team and incredibly strong at home. In the 08/09 season their manager, quit seemingly over transfer policy. Despite a valiant effort by former player Alan Shearer who managed them for the last eight games of the season, they were relegated on the last day. Under new management (although not new owners), they are now back in the top flight.
Enjoyed a few years of success at the end of the 1970s to early 1980s, winning the English League and the European Cup (as the Champions League was called then) under the inspirational leadership of Brian Clough. Relegated in the late 1990s, and have since yo-yoed between the second and third tiers. Notable for being the only club to have won the European Cup more often than their own national league, and also for being the only European Cup winner to have been relegated to their country's third tier.
Are the oldest professional club in the world, formed in 1862. Despite relegation to the bottom league division (now Npower League 2) numerous times the club has never once become non-league. Nicknamed "The Magpies" due to their black and white striped home kit (often abbreviated to 'The Pies', which distinguishes it from a certain Northeast-based club with a similar nickname) this football club has a large amount of trivia:
Famous Italian club Juventus are known to play in black and white having replaced their original pink striped kit that faded in the wash with kits from Notts.
The stadium at which Notts play their home games, Meadow Lane, is the shortest distance in the English League (though not in the UK) from another stadium, the other being The City Ground, home of Nottingham Forest.
Notts County have changed divisions within the English League more times than any other league club, most recently winning promotion as champions to Npower League One in the 2009-2010 season.
AKA "Pompey", they are a League One side, who recently had their manager (Harry Redknapp, who also spent seven years at West Ham) move to Tottenham. Won the FA Cup in 2008, resulting in European action for the first time in their history. Suffered serious financial trouble in 2009, resulting in players being paid late, a lot of people being owed money and ultimately the club narrowly avoiding being wound up by going into administration, meaning a penalty of 9 points taken off, something which ensured relegation to the Npower Championship, where they now reside, although recently they have enjoyed relative stability.
Unfortunately for Portsmouth, they entered relegation yet again and are now fan-owned, but struggling in League Two (the fourth tier).
Stoke City were one of the 12 founder members of The Football League. The Premier League's current mid-table 'unfashionable' physical side. Suffered Flanderization in the media, as the club's defining characteristic is the long throw-in of Rory Delap. Stoke reached the FA Cup Final in the 2010/11 season, losing 1-0 in the final to Manchester City. Wear red and white stripes.
AKA "The Black Cats", and a bit of a "yo-yo team", meaning they tend to keep getting promoted and relegated, being too good for one division and not quite good enough for the next. Play in red and white vertical stripes. Proudest moment was winning the FA Cup as underdogs against the then-powerhouse Leeds in 1973, although they have won the league pre-war. Fierce rivals with nearby Newcastle. Narrowly stayed in the top flight last season, while their rivals went down. Currently mid-table.
Reasonably successful club which has had its fair share of ups and downs, but has never won anything significant. For a time during the 80’s Watford rose to the top of English football thanks to Elton John’s investment in the club and Graham Taylor’s simple, yet effective long ball strategy. Lost to Everton in the 1984 FA Cup final. The club is notable for being the only big team in Hertfordshire, they even changed their crest to the county symbol, a hart, to acknowledge this fact.
Recently, they have been slowly climbing to the top after having been bought by rich Italians, who successfully bussed in foreign players from the two other clubs they owned, turning Watford into a winning team.
"West Brom" or "The Baggies" are currently a lower-table Premiership side. A former great, they last won a major trophy (the FA Cup for the fifth time) in 1968 and then spent 1986 to 2002 out of the top flight. Were one of the twelve founding members of the football league (along with several other Midlands clubs, including arch-rivals Wolves) but have only won the league once, in 1920. Recently have had a tendency to shift regularly between the divisions - of their last nine seasons seven have resulted in promotion or relegation, the other two being a defeat in the play-off final and a survival so improbable to be dubbed "The Great Escape". They play in navy and white stripes, although unusually have no shirt sponsor. Statistically have the most intelligent fans... no, seriously. Among said fans, we happen to have Eric Clapton.
West Ham United
"I'm forever blowing bubbles! Pretty bubbles in the air!"
AKA "The Hammers" or "The Irons". A London club, based at the Boleyn Ground in Upton Park. Mostly hang around the middle of the Premiership table, but occasionally slip down a division (as of the 2011/2012 season, play in the Championship having been relegated the previous year). Known as "The Academy of Football" as it's been the starting place for a number of famous footballers, including Geoff Hurst, who scored a hat-trick in the 1966 World Cup Final, Bobby Moore (who captained the 1966 side and has a stand at the ground named after him) and Rio Ferdinand. Play in Claret and sky blue, and have the most diehard and notorious fanbase in the UK. Games at Upton Park are considered some of the most highly charged and atmospheric. Have one of the most well known club anthems, a lustily sung version of the old ditty "I'm for Ever Blowing Bubbles", the 'fortunes always hiding' line being something of a club motif, and the fans are proud of their underdog status. Recently got new owners, one of whom made his money in porn. This is considered better than being owned by a bunch of creditors. Their hooligan "firm" the Inter City Firm (ICF) was especially notorious - and features heavily in the movie Green Street (Green Street Hooligans in the USA) and consequently claim Elijah Wood as a celebrity fan. Another famous fan of the team is Iron Maiden bassist Steve Harris, who has a bass with a sticker of the team's crest on it (which he commonly plays live with).
Harry Potter character Dean Thomas is another fan of the team.
A South London team, playing in all-navy, which came to prominence in the 1980s with a rapid rise up the divisions combined with the newsworthy antics of their players (known as the Crazy Gang). Won the FA Cup in 1988 against the all-conquering Liverpool, but had to abandon its ground in 1991 due to new safety rules. After sharing a ground with neighbours Crystal Palace for a time, the owners began to consider moving the team out of London. Eventually they settled on the new town of Milton Keynes, 90 km north of London. This move was incredibly unpopular with fans of Wimbledon, but also many fans of other clubs, disturbed at the prospect of American-style "franchises" that moved cities to go where the money was. The move was eventually allowed, on the understanding that the team would be renamed and would not officially retain the history and honours of Wimbledon FC. This leads us to...
Milton Keynes Dons
The team created by the move of Wimbledon to Milton Keynes. The name "Dons" is a reference to Wimbledon's old nickname, but most other fans call them "Franchise FC" due to the manner of their creation. Taking over Wimbledon's old position in the third tier of the league, they were swiftly relegated to the fourth, but have since bounced back, picking up a minor trophy along the way.
(AFans' Club) Feeling alienated by all of the above, a group of Wimbledon fans founded their own team, starting in the amateur London leagues. The club has rapidly promoted through the regional leagues and has gained entry to the League in 2011, only nine years after the club has been founded. Although the club does not officially claim to be a continuation of the old Wimbledon FC, it is regarded by its own fans and most neutrals as at least a Spiritual Successor. Crowd turnout at their home games tends to be significantly higher than both home crowd turnout for other clubs in their division and MK Dons' average turnout. Brian in New Tricks is a supporter. Managed to get the honours won from Wimbledon FC to be returned to the Wimbledon area, seeing them as part of the area rather then just the club itself. They also hold the record for the longest unbeaten run in any league at 78 games!
Currently a side relegated to League One, Wolves (as they are nicknamed) had a successful spell in the 1950's. This side was dubbed "Champions of the World" due to their success at beating top foreign sides, even though official European competition was not established at the time, and they won the League three times under Stan Cullis. Were one of the founding clubs of the English league and date back to 1877.
Scottish Football is dominated by two teams from Glasgow - Rangers and Celtic, the "Old Firm". Since the formation of the Scottish League in 1890, there have only been 18 instances where a side outside of these two have won the Title, the last of which was in 1985. The history between the clubs goes far beyond the usual sporting rivalry, encompassing religious and socio-economic issues that predate the existance of either side. The "Old Firm" rivalry is often associated with The Troubles; Rangers are often seen as the team of Protestant Unionists in Scotland and Northern Ireland while Celtic as the club of Catholics and Republicans.
Formed in 1872, Rangers Football Club are the older of the two, wear blue and play out of Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow's southside. The most successful side in Scottish football, Rangers have won a record 54 league championships (including nine straight championships from 1989 and 1997), 27 League Cups (they presently hold both) and 33 Scottish Cups. They also acheived European success in the form of the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1972, and finished runner up in the 2008 UEFA Cup. The 'Gers once had an informal "no Catholics" signing policy, but this was abolished in the 1980s to kick start the nation-wide anti-Sectarianism campaign. Rangers went into liquidation (bankruptcy) in 2012. The assets were purchased by a Newco, which was refused entry into the SPL. As a result, Rangers have been relegated to the Third Division (now known as Scottish League Two). The team are now in Scottish League One (the former Second Division) in the 2013-14 season.
The Celtic Football Club (pronounced Seltik, not Keltic) hail from the east end of Glasgow and were formed in 1887 as a means of raising money for the poor Irish communities in the city. Their home at Celtic Park is, after a reconstruction in the late 1990s, the largest in Scotland. The first British side to win the European Cup in 1967, they reached the finals of the 1970 European Cup and the 2003 UEFA Cup. The record Scottish Cup winners (35 times winners, including in 2011) they also have 42 League titles (including nine consecutive victories between 1966 and 1974, breaking their own world record) and 14 League Cups. Celtic's green and white Hoops are known the world over, and the club boasts a sizeable support in North America and Australia.
Outside of the Old Firm, you have...
Perhaps the most successful non-Glaswegian side are Aberdeen Football Club, who found fantastic success under the guidance of Alex Ferguson in the 1980s. One half of the so-called "New Firm" of the 1980s, they are the last side outwith the Old Firm to win the Title and Aberdeen (known as the Dons) are the only Scottish side to win two European trophies: the Cup Winners Cup in 1983 (beating Real Madrid in the final) and the European Super Cup that same year. They have won a total of four titles, seven Scottish Cups and five League Cups. They wear red and play out of Pittodrie Stadium (but are looking to move).
Representing Dundee in the Scottish Premiership (known as the Scottish Premier League, or SPL, before 2013–14) is Dundee United, known as The Arabs. Founded as Dundee Hibernian in 1909, they make up the other half of the "New Firm". United reached the European Cup semi-finals in 1984 and the final of the 1986/87 UEFA Cup. They have won the League only once (1982/83) and have won both Cups on two occasions each. Playing in tangarine, their stadium (Tannadice Park) is just down the road from that of their city rivals, Dundee FC.
Heart Of Midlothian (universally known as Hearts) are one of Edinburgh's two major teams, they play in maroon red and rhyming slang makes them the "Jam Tarts" or just "Jambos". Named after the 19th century dance hall where it was founded (a hall which itself took its name from a nearby jail) Hearts are among the most successful non-Glaswegian sides in Scotland with 7 Scottish Cups, 4 League Cups and 4 League titles (the last of which came way back in 1960, but they came famously close in 1986 before losing it to Celtic on the last day). Playing out of Tynecastle Stadium in the Gorgie area of the city, the club are presently owned by eccentric Lithuanian businessman Vladimir Romanov. Fierce rivals with...
Hibernian. Wearing green and nnown simply as Hibs (or the Hibees), Hibernian's home at Easter Road is based in the Leith region of Edinburgh. Won their fourth (and so far last) Title in 1952, they have also won the League Cup three times and the Scottish Cup twice (most recently in 1902, and the 109 year wait is a source of mocking for Hearts fans). Sharing Celtic's Irish roots (but predating the Glaswegian side) Hibs were a Catholics-only club in the early years but have long since moved away from their sectarian/political roots.
Kilmarnock are the oldest club side playing in the Premiership, formed in 1869. "Killie" however have only won a single top-flight title (in 1964-65 season) and three Scottish Cups (the last of which came in 1997). The Ayrshire side play at Rugby Park, wear blue and white stripes and are famous for the quality of their matchday pies.
North Lanarkshire side Motherwell play in claret and amber and were formed in 1886. Known as the Steelmen due to the famous Lanarkshire industry, Motherwell are based at Fir Park Stadium and share a geography-based rivalry with Hamilton Academical. Winning their solitary title in 1932, 'Well also have won a League Cup and two Scottish Cups (the most famous of which was in 1991). Tragedy struck the club in December 2007 when club Captain and fan-favourite Phil O'Donnell (who scored in that 1991 victory) died of a left ventricular failure on the pitch.
Paisley's only representative in top-flight football is St Mirren. Formed in 1877 the club are based out of St Mirren Park, originally at Love Street (which the stadium was commonly known as) before moving to a new home in 2009. The Buddies, who play in black and white, have won the Scottish Cup on three occasions and are regular winners of the Refrewshire Cup, which they take part in every summer with old rivals Greenock Morton.
The youngest side in the Premiership is Highlands club Inverness Caledonian Thistle (known as Caley Thistle or ICT). Founded in 1994, the club joined the SFL and soon gained a reputation as giant killers after a shocking upset victory in a Cup match at Celtic Park in 1999. Their home ground, the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium, is situated beside the Moray Firth and they wear royal blue and red.
St Johnstone - one of several clubs known as The Saints - were formed in 1884 and call Mc Diarmid Park their home. They hail from Perth and wear light blue, but have no major honours to their name.
The side most recently promoted back to the Premiership is Partick Thistle, one of the Glasgow clubs outside the Old Firm. Founded in 1876, they have played at Firhill Stadium in Maryhill since 1909, but retain their "Partick" name. The Jags wear yellow and red stripes and have won the Scottish Cup once.
Queen's Park are a League Two (third division) side based in Glasgow. They are notable for a number of reasons: firstly, they play out of 52,000 seater stadium Hampden Park (Scotland's national stadium) and are the oldest club in Scotland (founded in 1867). They are also the only amateur side left in the senior Scottish game, a long-standing tradition dating back to their opposition to professionalisation in the late 19th century (their motto is "Ludere Causa Ludendi" – to play for the sake of playing). They are the only Scottish club to play in the FA Cup Final (in 1884 and 1885), own the oldest football-related structure in existance (Lesser Hampden), won the first televised game involving a Scottish side in 1951 and are the third most succesful side in the Scottish Cup, winning the trophy ten times - although the last was in 1893!
Airdrie United is a story worth discussing. The first Airdrie - called Airdrieonians - were founded in 1878 and were a fixture of the Scottish Leagues for decades. However in the late nineties/early 21st century the club faced financial trouble and was ultimatley liquidated in 2002. Fans of the club rallied around a newly formed successor, Airdrie United, but United failed in their application to join the League (their place was given to Gretna). In desperation, Airdrie United owner Jim Ballantyne bought out the crumbling League side Clydebank FC, moved them to Airdrie and renamed them Airdrie United, thus bringing Airdrie back to the League. Airdrie United is considered a continuation of Airdrieonians, while Clydebank supporters reformed their club (now in the Junior leagues) in 2003/04 season.
Gretna FC began life in 1946 as a Scottish Junior League side before deciding to play across the border in the early 1980s. The club found some success in the lower regions of the English pyramid and became the first Scottish side to play in the FA Cup since Rangers had appeared in 1887. When Airdrieonians collapsed in 2002 Gretna applied to join the Scottish League and were successful. Under the ownership of grass-roots football advocate Brooks Mileson, Gretna raced up the Leagues with three successive promotions from 2005 to 2007 that took them to the Premier League. They were the first third tier team to reach the Scottish Cup final - where they lost on penalties to Hearts in 2006 - but as Hearts had qualified for the following seasons Champions League, Gretna won a spot in the UEFA Cup. However the club was in debts of £4m in 2008, and while it was struggling in the SPL Mileson fell ill (and later passed away), later removing his financial support and plunging the club into administration. Players and staff were made redundant, only 400 people turned up to see them be relegated. The club resigned from the League and was dissolved later that summer.
The Football Association of Wales
The only non-English side to have won the FA Cup (in 1927) and got to the 2008 final, where they were beaten by Portsmouth. Won the Championship title in 2013, earning them a spot in the Premiership for 2013–14.
Finished eighth in the Championship in the 08/09 season, making a big impact in their first season after promotion from League One. They made a bigger impact in 2010/11, winning the four-team Championship promotion playoff, sending them to the top level for the first time since 1983, and making them the first Welsh team in the modern history of the English Premier League. Won the Football League Cup, a second-level trophy, in 2013, giving them a spot in the 2013–14 Europa League. Still in the Prem.
The New Saints
Formerly Total Network Solutions, one of the leading clubs in the Welsh Premier League, famous for Jeff Stelling'sRunning Gag about dancing on the streets of Total Network Solutions whenever they win. (Stelling still continues with the gag, using The New Saints instead.) They actually play their home games in England—they absorbed Oswestry Town, a nearby English club that played in the Welsh leagues, when the latter club folded, and chose to play at Oswestry's larger home ground.
The Irish Football Association (Northern Ireland)
Former IFA sides:
Derry City (left Northern Ireland's football league in the early years of The Troubles and now play in the Republic of Ireland's football league)