Emblematically Speaking - Congleton Town

Tue 7th November 2017 | Congleton Town
By Stewart Taylor

Congleton Town FC

This week we tell the story of a bear and, by extension, refer to the now defunct “sport” of bear baiting.

Bear baiting was popular in England from the 16th to the 19th centuries, but we don’t need to go into the detail of what by the standards of today was considered to be a barbaric “sport”.

However, to ignore that such an activity existed is to ignore history, and there is a message in that to those who feel that certain aspects of history should be expunged on the altar of political correctness.

Congleton was once noted for its bearbaiting and when the town bear had the temerity to demise just before an annual Wakes holiday in the 1600’s the town lent the bearward 16 shillings towards a replacement from monies that had been set aside to buy a new Bible.

Rather unfairly this gesture was ridiculed in the local neighbourhood and it immediately gave rise to the imprecise rhyme that the town has had to endure ever since!

Congleton rare, Congleton rare,
Sold the Bible to buy a new bear

It may be worth a small digression at this point to pick up on the idea of the “Wakes holiday”. Wakes Week, as it was known in many parts, was originally a religious celebration or feast. During the Industrial Revolution – particularly in the north west of England – this became a non secular holiday.

Associated almost exclusively with manufacturing industry and a time when industrial machinery underwent annual maintenance, Wakes week (later a fortnight) has largely died out as a concept but is remembered fondly by many.

But back to Congleton and, given the story above, it comes as no surprise to see a representation of a dancing bear as the focal point of the club emblem.

The remaining features of the club emblem are pretty much self explanatory with the name of the club and the year of formation.

In the summer of 1901, the cream of Congleton’s youthful talent was rigorously cherry-picked to create a new representative side to fill the void left by the Congleton Hornets in April 1900, with the vast majority of those local amateur players having previously represented the late Congleton Juniors the season before.

It follows that the newly-created Congleton Town FC was effectively an offspring of that disbanded young man’s team. Congleton Hornets have an enduring place in the history of football in the area in that a former player, George Tooth, went on to play for Stoke (before Stoke was a city) in the Football League before ending his career at Stafford Rangers.

The two footballs are there, either side of the dancing bear, simply to emphasise the fact that Congleton Town FC is an association football club, while the badge’s background represents the team’s black and white striped shirts. Club colours that were first adopted in 1921.

As with many of our clubs, the emblem has changed down the years and has been used as a marketing tool by the club as befits the adoption of an emblem which represents the club.

Ohh, and it would be remiss of me to complete this article without reference to the Congleton brewery Beartown, one of whose beers was called Bearly Literate. Seems somehow appropriate!

With thanks to Alan Brennan and Ken Mead for their help in writing this article.

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