Emblematically Speaking - South Liverpool

Fri 13th January 2023 | South Liverpool
By Martin Fallon

South Liverpool FC

If anything is more emblematic of a city than the Liver Bird and Liverpool then I have yet to come across it.

Given that, then it is worth describing both the origins of the Liver Bird and its subsequent development. The story goes something like this and is based on the write up of the emblem of AFC Liverpool in the first series of Emblematically Speaking.

Originally, and here we are going back to the foundation of Liverpool by King John in 1207, the bird was an eagle. The new town adopted King John's seal as its own. The seal showed the eagle of St John holding a sprig of broom in its beak. The broom, or planta genista, was the symbol of the royal house of the Plantagenets and is said in some quarters to be the origin of the name..

In 1644 the seal was lost and a new seal was made. For some reason the eagle was replaced by a cormorant, a more familiar bird in the area. It is possible that the artist mistook the eagle for a cormorant. The piece of broom was replaced by a piece of seaweed, again something more familiar thereabouts. The cormorant, as depicted, became known as the Liver Bird.

As we all know, Liverpudlians are fearlessly independent of thought and, on occasion, action. We can think about an alternative view of how the current Liver Bird came to be.

We can go with a local artist being commissioned to reproduce the original King John seal but then the independent thought process comes in. We could imagine the local artist saying words to the effect, “why an eagle, we never see eagles in Liverpool and whatever did the Romans do for us?” perhaps mistaking the eagle of St John for the Roman eagle. Equally, knowing that the plant in the mouth of the bird was a broom came up with a similar thought, “when did we last see a planta genista in Liverpool?” What we do see all of the time down the docks is seaweed so seaweed it will be”. A fanciful surmise perhaps and, as ever, if you know different please get in touch.

However, the above is just a small excursion into the realms of some perhaps long lost history. What we do have, courtesy of Mal Flanagan of South Liverpool FC, is the story of the development of the club badge from the formation of the club in 1935.

Well, we say that but it was not until the 1950s that the club adopted its first club badge which was a simple shield with a red diagonal bar featuring the letters SL in the upper section and FC in the lower.

In the late 1950’s Liverpool FC donated a set of their away white shirts to help the then ailing club as the Anfield club’s away strip was the same as Souths home kit. We have never established if they came with a badge on as we have no pictures of that time. The one we do have from then has the team in white shirts with a shield on inside is the diagonal bar with S in the upper and L in the lower area.

South saw a resurgence, under manager Allen Hampson, from the early 1960’s winning the Lancashire Combination and appearing twice in the FA Cup Proper. The shirts now had a more distinctive badge. The white shirts had an oval red badge with a white Liver Bird and underneath SLFC. This was the badge worn as South became founder members of the Northern Premier League in 1968.

As South struggled against the best non-league teams in the North, finances forced the shirts to have no badge. The mid 1970’s saw the Liver Bird return, set in a circle with the club’s name or an interwoven S & L inside. It would stay that way up to our semi-professional demise in 1991.

South supporters began, in 1991, the slow and arduous path of restoring the club’s name and the programme covers from the mid 1990’s onwards saw the return of the familiar Liver Bird within a football. A badge on the shirt though only re-appeared in 2006. South’s rise through the ranks of the West Cheshire League saw the badge with more colour, with South’s name wrapped around with the Liver Bird in red or black on our shirts.

As South looked finally to progress back into the non-league pyramid, 2019 saw the current version introduced, using all three of our club colours. A red Liver Bird on a white background with a dominant black ring around with the club’s name in white on the shirts whilst on our pin badge the name is in gold.

A great story and many thanks to Mal for his input.

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