Emblematically Speaking - Shelley

Tue 8th January 2019 | Shelley Community
By Stewart Taylor

Shelley Community FC

We start this week by reference to one of the finest of English poets, William Blake.

A curious opening line for an article destined to be read in the context of football but, as ever, bear with me and we will make the connection – promise!

This is the second verse of a poem written by Blake in the first decade of the 19th century as the preface to the epic work Milton: A Poem in Two Books.



And did the Countenance Divine,
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among these dark Satanic Mills?


This text will be familiar to many as being a key part of the “Last Night of the Proms” concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London every year.

Our interest in this comes from the use of the term “dark Satanic Mills” in what was, probably, the first usage of the phrase.

The phrase refers to the early industrial revolution and its destruction of nature and human relationships.

With the benefit of the passing of over 200 years since Blake penned these words, we can put a slightly different slant on this by reference first of all to the Luddites and their penchant for destroying industrial machinery for fear that they might be put out of work by automation – a consideration to this day of course with advances in robotics – and the appalling working conditions which were prevalent in some, if not most, 19th century factories (mills).

After this rather long pre-amble, I now invite the reader to have a look at the emblem of Shelley FC, and what do we see at the top of the emblem but a mill which appears to be belching out black smoke.

We have commented on previous articles on the textile industry and, in particular, cotton. But here we are in Yorkshire so, for climatic reasons, it is the woollen industry which predominated in this area.

As many will know, the village of Shelley sits just 6 miles away from Huddersfield, which was one of the major centres of the wool industry so it is not surprising that the village had three major textile mills, of which none survive to this day.

And, indeed, as you sit on the terracing at Shelley’s ground, with a panoramic view of rolling countryside, it is difficult to imagine a landscape dominated by mills – but it was.

Either side of the representation of a mill we see two white roses which immediately tell us that we are in Yorkshire. We could recall at this point the nursery rhyme relating to the Grand Old Duke of York but we will resist the temptation – just for once – and simply comment that the originator of the white rose as a symbol of Yorkshire is said to be the very first Duke of York back in the 14th century.

And now over to Doug Thomson of Shelley CFC who describes the major features of the shield below the scroll carrying the name of the club.

“The club's motto Exsisto Ut Unus (Latin), which can be readily translated into English as Arise As One, features above a pair of griffins, the mythological creatures which combine a lion and an eagle and represent strength and courage in adversity, reflecting the 1980 reformation of the club, which was originally established in 1903 (as the emblem reflects), but lapsed in 1972.

"Griffins also feature on the family crest of club chairman Craig Leslie, who was central in the move to and development of the club's Stafflex Arena ground.”

The use of griffins in heraldry is quite widespread and we have previously seen the use of this device in our feature on the emblem of Vauxhall Motors FC.

It is perhaps relevant in this modern age to record that the most frequently used version of the griffin in heraldry is the female, winged, form as we see here.

This, rather neatly, leads us back to classic poetry where we may recall a line from Rudyard Kipling in his 1911 poem entitled The Female of the Species:


For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.


No further comment needed.

With thanks to Doug Thomson of Shelley Community FC for his assistance in putting together this article.


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