Thursday, March 21, 2024

Football Club Name of the Day: Southwell City FC

Bob Hardy, the late Bishop of Lincoln, once described his diocese as "two thousand square miles of bugger all". But it used to be even bigger. In 1837 it reached as far south as Hertfordshire.

In the same year, the Archdeaconry of Nottingham was transferred to Lincoln from York. In 1884 it became a diocese in its own right with Southwell Minster as its cathedral.

But Southwell has never been a city, even though the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica described it as one.

According to the Wikipedia article on city status in the United Kingdom it was not made one in 1884 because it was a village without a borough corporation and therefore could not petition the Queen.

That article is an entertaining rabbit hole, incidentally. You will learn that Rochester lost its city status in the 1990s because it failed to react nimbly enough to the endless local government reorganisations we ow go in for.

But the point of this article is to salute the chutzpah, or whatever its Nottinghamshire equivalent is, of the local football team, which has always played as Southwell City. 

The club's website (sort of) explains:
Southwell City was formed in 1893 and plays its football on the Memorial Ground in the shadow of the magnificent Norman Minister which became a Cathedral just prior to the club’s formation. Hence the name Southwell City, despite the fact that City status has never officially been conferred on the market town.
Good for it!

Is the question of city status closed? Southwell may not have been a borough in the 1880s, but it does have an active town council now. And if it were the smallest city in England, taking the title from Wells, that would surely attract visitors and boost its economy.

If this were an old British film, there would be a meeting of townsfolk about this continued slight and a spirited girl would get up and say "Come on! What are we waiting for?"


David Raw said...

Southwell has another claim to fame. A certain Theodore Bailey Hardy was ordained in the Minster in December, 1898. Hardy was a master at Nottingham High School where, amongst others, he was a form master to D.H. Lawrence. Much later, of course, the Nottingham High alumni include Ed. Davey, Ed Balls and Ken Clarke.

Hardy went on to become a Chaplain in WW1, where, after being awarded the MC, the DSO and the VC, he was the most decorated non-combatant in the war. Sadly he died of wounds justthree weeks before the Armistice.

David Raw said...

Sorry, Bailey should be Bayley.

Tom Barney said...

St Asaph is a city: a copy of its charter hangs in the cathedral. But it is so small I couldn't find anywhere to serve me lunch on a Saturday.

There are stalls in St Hugh's Choir in Lincoln cathedral labelled Biggleswade and Leighton Bosard (sic).

Anonymous said...

Reading Borough Council is desperate to become a City - even though some of us enjoy the fact that we are the largest town in England. (No, not Northampton!)
Anyway, as well as the ill-fated Reading Football Club, we too have an amateur team called Reading City FC. Somehow, delusions of grandeur are more welcome in enthusiastic sportspeople rather then civic grandees.

Anonymous said...

Kidlington in Oxfordshire used to make great play of being the biggest village in England, which always struck me as being a fairly modest boast. Now it has to do with claiming to be the second biggest, which is even more meagre.