Badge of Southampton: Religion, Navigation and Competition Winner


What is a badge anyway? This is a complicated question to answer.

Perhaps the most ubiquitous symbol of your football club is a historic heraldic design reminiscent of the local coat of arms or a sleek, modern design imagined to look effortless on modern sportswear.

But why is there a tree? Or a bee? Or a devil?

This week, The Athletic breaks down the details hidden in plain sight and explains what makes your club badge.


In its 137-year history, Southampton Football Club has had only two crests and carried out six reconfigurations on its badge.

While the trend is towards simplification of crests – largely using primary colors – Southampton stands above these unspoken rules and over time has added the whole paint palette.

Green, gold, blue and black accompany the essential, red and white. The emblem itself is far more intricate and perhaps more intriguing than most badges these days, with the nuances in the design a representation of the city’s history.

It has not always been so. Like many clubs when they were founded, Southampton initially used the city coat of arms, which featured only red and white colors and a shield with Hampshire roses on it. The “SFC” lettering, used as the only differentiator, came below.

This remained the case for the next 89 years until the club held a competition in 1974 to revamp the crest. In case you were wondering, a gentleman named Rolland Parris, graphic designer and Southampton supporter, would end up designing the emblem.

The new crest was inspired by the club’s religious roots after it was founded in 1885 by members of St Mary’s Church – hence the somewhat obvious moniker ‘Saints’. At the time, the newspapers called the team St Mary’s YMA (Young Men’s Association).

Parris’ design introduced a golden halo sitting atop a (rather self-explanatory) football to accentuate Southampton’s history with the Church of England, while the red and white sash running below is used to show the colors of the club and its relationship with supporters.

Incidentally, the predominant colors of Southampton were the inspiration for Athletic Bilbao, whose original strip was just white before 1909. That year, Bilbao student Juan Elorduy was in Southampton and decided to take 50 Southampton shirts before returning home. By 1910, the Spanish club had begun wearing their now familiar cloned south coast colours.

The single tree on the ridge, consisting of black bark with green leaves, symbolizes the New Forest and Southampton Common, where the club is located.

Arguably the most relevant aspects of the emblem are the two blue waves under the tree. In terms of significance, they have significant cultural significance for the city.

The stylized waves represent Southampton’s importance as a shipping port and wharf area, as well as its legendary and historic history with the coastline.

In the Middle Ages, Southampton was the birthplace of the shipbuilding industry in England, building ships that sailed from the Mayflower to the United States. Ships held back those who emigrated overseas, with reliance on the city (it only became a city in 1964) increasing exponentially during the Victorian era. In turn, Southampton’s population grew with it.

In 1912, a third of the passengers on the RMS Titanic were Sotonians leaving port, many of whom never returned. During World War II, Southampton became one of the main targets of German efforts to disrupt British naval authority and its effectiveness in shipping goods in and out of the country.

Then there is the white rose, enlarged and autonomous from those that appear on the coat of arms of the city. To avoid confusion with those of Yorkshire and the Wars of the Roses, the flower is also the symbol of Hampshire.

The badge remains the current one, but with some minor improvements. The first came in 1997 and kept all the key elements but sharpened the contours, making them more sophisticated. The colors have become deeper and more striking, with the football – previously white and plain – adding black and therefore sporting a more traditional pattern.. The lettering at the bottom has been enhanced with modern refinement.

Southampton has remained with the crest into the 21st century. It was only after 16 managers, two relegations, an administration and a Jan Poortvliet that the next noticeable change came, in 2010, in honor of the club’s 125th anniversary.


The Southampton club badge has remained the same since 2010 (Photo: James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)

The occasion was regally marked, with the crest remaining intact but ornate. The soccer ball holding the halo has given way to a red sphere and white “125” lettering on it. The date of their creation and the year (1885-2010) were on either side of the emblem. They also played in the kit which wore the same style as their first, with a red sash cutting through the all-white shirt.

Promotion achieved and the milestone year celebrated, Southampton restored its traditional logo the following season, almost identical to the redesigned crest of 1997. As the themes of the story suggest, it was again given a contemporary boost, with the emboldened letters and refreshed outlines. .

It has remained that way since Southampton refused to follow the trend towards simplified badges. From shape to color to the more subtle aspects of the emblem, it has perfectly captured the city’s history for decades and will do so for years to come.

(Photos: Getty Images; Graphic: Sam Richardson)

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