The world of football is blessed with some glorious names. Having stumbled across the Mysterious Dwarfs of Ghana and the Liberian International Shipping & Corporate Registry FC of, well, Liberia, I thought I’d dig a little deeper. Thanks are also due to Nikos Overheul who suggested a couple of entries. I’ve avoided the overtly comedic, such as Deportivo Morón, which is, after all, just the name of a city in Argentina, or Deportivo Wanka, which is named after a Quechua people who live in the area from which the team hails. Here, then, are the ten that made the grade.
Liberian International Shipping & Corporate Registry Football Club – Liberia
As Rose George notes in her masterful study of international shipping, Deep Sea and Foreign Going, Liberia is one of the foremost registries for foreign ships, a keeper of the details for a flag of convenience. While this is a huge source of income for the Western African state, it is the football club bearing the registry’s name that most Liberians know. The team plays in the Antoinette Tubman Stadium, named after the wife of William Tubman, the father of modern Liberia, and won the now dissolved Liberian Premier League in 2010/11 and 2011/12.
Cloud 9 Football Club – South Africa
In an oddity of franchise purchasing, Cloud 9 were recently, in fact, African Winners FC until 2011. They narrowly missed out on promotion to the Vodacom League Eastern Cape stream (domestic football in South Africa appears to be rather complex – the Vodacom League is subdivided into 9 regional streams, the winners of which go into a playoff pool and two of whom then get promoted to the second tier of South African domestic football, the National League). Despite not gaining promotion, they managed to finagle their way into the Vodacom League by buying the Cloud 9 franchise from a now defunct instantiation of that team, but then retained the name of the team they’d bought, presumably, because it is awesome. It is worth noting too that this tier of South African football houses, among others, Real Madrid, Blackburn Rovers, Juventus, and Vasco de Gama.
Eleven Men In Flight Football Club – Swaziland
Formerly of the Swazi Premier League, and now largely impossible to find online, Eleven Men In Flight are also known by their nickname, Easy By Night. They hail from Siteki, a town in eastern Swaziland which is named after an edict by King Diamini IV, or Mbandzeni as he was also known, which allowed his soldiers to get married. Eleven Men In Flight won the Swazi Premier League twice, most recently in 1996, and BP Challenge Cup three times.
Devonshire Cougars – Bermuda
Among the many great names in Bermudan football, for example the Dandy Town Hornets, the Devonshire Cougars stand out because they sound like a west of England swingers’ collective. Named after the parish of Devonshire and choosing the agile, powerful cat for obvious reasons of coolness, the Cougars history has not been littered with success, but recent strides have seen them win the Cingular Wireless Premier Division in 2012/13 and the FA Challenge Cup in 2009/10 and 2010/11.
Mysterious Dwarfs – Ghana
Or to give them their full name, Essienimpong Cape-Coast Ebusua Dwarfs FC, who I first encountered when reading about the Ghanian goalkeeping phenomenon Robert Mensah. The Dwarfs now play in a stadium named after Mensah. Beyond that, despite an email to the Ghanian FA, I have not been able to find out much more about them. This is nominative determinism in action, I fear. We must content ourselves with the knowledge that they are, indeed, mysterious.
Anti Drugs Strikers FC – Sierra Leone
Based in Freetown, Anti Drugs Strikers FC were founded in 1993. They currently sit in comfortable, mid-table obscurity, which is far less than their scintillating name merits. I have tried to contact them, and will update this if I learn anymore. They are so secretive, I cannot even find their logo. Maybe they are less a football club, and more a covert government agency. Maybe.
Go Ahead Eagles – Holland
According to open source research, which is pretty much all I’ve got, the Dutch FA didn’t like Go Ahead’s first name ‘Be Quick’, and so asked them to change it. Whether they asked them to change it to Go Ahead, or just change it generally, is, sadly, something I don’t know. I do know that the Eagles element was added at the suggestion of their Welsh manager Barry Hughes in 1971, taking the avian prompt from the Deventer city coat of arms. If only Hull had such a good rationale.
Ethiopian Coffee – Ethiopia
The club was founded in 1975 but changed its name to Ethiopian Coffee Sports Club in 1983 as a result of being taken under the wing of the then government operated National Coffee Trading Corporation. As the quality and range of Ethiopian coffee has grown (try a Yirgacheffe from HasBean if you don’t believe me), so has ECFC, winning several cup and league competitions, most recently in 2011. Fans paint coffee jugs on their faces as a sign of affection.
April 25 Sports Club – North Korea
With thirteen league titles, April 25 Sports Club is the most successful team in North Korean football history. Being named after Military Foundation Day and owned by the much-feared North Korean People’s Army probably helps though. The club was initially named Central Sports Training School Sports Club, which was then changed to February 8 Sports Club, which was the previous Military Foundation Day. In 1971 Kim Il-Sung changed the day the army was founded to April 25th because it was more Korean and less Soviet, and so, obvious, the club changed names too. They recently beat the Indonesian national team.
Club Always Ready – Bolivia
More (attempted, at least) nominative determinism here, this time from the La Paz based Always Ready. They weren’t though, and had to wait 18 years for their first title. Despite sharing a red blazon kit with River Plate, Always Ready have experienced none of their success and currently sit in the depths of the Primera B, effectively the third tier of Bolivian football after some of the top clubs split off to form La Liga in 1977. Always Ready’s sole Libertadores appearance was in 1968, which ended in first round exit.