Emblematically Speaking - Whitchurch Alport

Mon 14th May 2018 | Whitchurch Alport
By Stewart Taylor

Whitchurch Alport FC

The most observant amongst my small but dedicated band of regular readers will have worked out that this is the 45th article under the title of Emblematically Speaking.

As we have 45 member clubs, it would seem reasonable that it should be the last. It is not, for reasons which will be revealed in the next few days.

What we have done thus far is to tell a story related to the development of the club emblem but this week we will explore a different sort of story which will perhaps explain some of the thought processes which have gone into the writing of these articles.

When I was first asked, commissioned would be too strong a word I think (says he modestly), if I would be interested in writing a series of short articles on club crests by League Media Officer, Ian Templeman, I was anxious to say yes - but there had to be enough out there to work with, to produce an interesting story each week.

Most club emblems (as we decided to call them) looked fine but there were at least one or two which on first glance didn’t seem to give too much away. The emblem of Whitchurch Alport FC was one of these.

When faced with such a situation then all one can really do, without delving too deeply, is to have a quick think about what the emblem actually looks like in design terms and see if a story relevant to the village, town or city represented by that club could be imagined.

On that basis, I’ll share with you my first thoughts on this one and give an insight into just how easy it is to head off in completely the wrong direction and end up with a story which bears no relationship whatsoever to reality.

If we think about the town of Whitchurch, we are reminded that the biggest claim to fame of the town is clockmaking. The firm of Joyce has been making clocks in the Whitchurch area for many years and moved to premises in High Street in Whitchurch in 1709.

Although the firm made all sorts of clocks it began by manufacturing longcase clocks – often known as grandfather clocks.

Stylistically, the hood (or bonnet), which holds the clock movement itself, of longcase clocks takes on elements of design which were popular at the time a particular clock was manufactured.

There have been many different stylistic periods during the time of longcase clock manufacture and one of the more recent was the Art Deco style. Originating in France just before the start of World War I, the Art Deco style is mainly associated with the 1920s and 1930s and was, essentially, a glamorous style representing luxury, exuberance and technological progress.

Taking all of the above into account, have a glance back at the emblem and see if you agree that it could well represent the face of an Art Deco style longcase clock. No, perhaps not, but it did to me, with the intertwined W and A representing the dial and the banners at the top and the bottom representing the dial surround.

An emblematic description, if a little cryptic, but wouldn’t it make perfect sense to represent the local football club with an emblem which includes reference to the clock making history of the town along with the essential information of the name of the organisation and the year of formation?

The whole tone of this piece so far would lead you to believe that the above story is nonsense and, indeed, it is.

On making further enquiries with the club it transpires that until the mid 1980s the club didn’t have an emblem and how it came to adopt one is a somewhat quirky story. Put simply, it was designed by a bricklayer.

In the mid 1980s, the bar at the clubhouse at Yockings Park was moved, creating more space. In building a brick faced bar, the bricklayer Stan Burgess, who was the husband of long serving committee member June Burgess, decided to create a feature using the "W" & "A" of Whitchurch Alport.

With the help of June's father Jim, they created an intertwined design on the brick work that still exists to this day.

This emblem then featured on letter heads, and club committee meeting minutes before taking its place on the club's Home & Away shirts in 2001, with the club's formation year and club name, where it has remained ever since.

So, a really unusual story in reality and it just goes to show that a little imagination, on my part, can go a long way even if that long way is in completely the wrong direction.

With thanks to John Allman of Whitchurch Alport FC for letting us know the real story.

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