A team known as Victoria FC started out in 1877 as a church club but disbanded within a few years. Some of its members joined forces with old boys from St. John’s School to form Blackpool St John’s. In 1887 a dispute among the players led to a meeting at the Stanley Arms Hotel on the 26th of July under the chairmanship of Mr Samuel Bancroft where it was resolved “that a club be formed to be known as Blackpool Football Club”. The club first played at Raikes Hall Gardens, moved to the Athletics Grounds in 1897 next to the cricket ground in Stanley Park, but had to move back to Raikes Hall in 1899. After three seasons in the league, Blackpool amalgamated with another local team, South Shore, whose ground in Bloomfield Road became the new club’s headquarters in December 1899.
Blackpool first played in their tangerine strip in the opening game of the 1923/24 season, a 2-2 draw with Oldham Athletic. The colour had been suggested by then director Albert Hargreaves (later club chairman) who was also an international referee. He had been refereeing an international game between Holland and Belgium when he recommended that the Dutch colours would suit Blackpool as being uniquely distinctive among English club colours. The change to tangerine for the 1923/24 season was not the club’s first change of colours because prior to then Blackpool had played in blue and white stripes and white shorts, red shirts and white shorts, red shirts with a white horizontal stripe and white shorts and for a short period at the start of the First World War a bizarre colour scheme of red, yellow and blue striped shirts and white shorts! Immediately before the change to tangerine the club played in white shirts and black shorts.
The shade of the first tangerine strip was obviously not quite what the club was looking for and it was changed for the game with Crystal Palace on 29 September when it was reported “The Blackpool players appeared in jerseys of the new shade of tangerine. The new jerseys, not quite so heavy in texture as the others, looked smart with their black collars.” An apocryphal story was that “a rude person” who shouted “Hello, here are the oranges” was immediately removed from the ground! Incidentally, the first tangerine strip had been described as “amber” which was more of a golden-brown than a tangerine and that is probably why the club made a quick change.
The tangerine shirts came in for some criticism after an FA Cup tie defeat at Blackburn Rovers on 7 March 1925 when the question was asked “Tangerine and Black. Are they the best colours for Blackpool?” A comparison was made with the Rovers’ strip; “Tangerine and black may sound well, but the team cut a sorry figure at Ewood Park by comparison with the spotless and debonair blue and white of the Rovers.” Despite the criticism, the tangerine and black strip survived until the start of the 1933/34 season when, with Sir Lindsay Parkinson as chairman, a change to his racing colours, light and dark blue (plus pink which is incorporated into Blackpool Cricket Club’s colours – he was also heavily involved there also) resulted in the club playing in light and dark blue striped shirts with white shorts.
These colours remained until the 1938/39 season and the change came about following a mention at a directors’ meeting that “it would be advantageous to change the club colours”. On 20 July 1938 The Football League approved a change to tangerine shirts and white shorts with tangerine and black socks. The decision to change was a practical one for in the 1937/38 season Blackpool had to change their strip in 12 out of 21 away games; chairman Col W Parkinson commented “We were disinclined to forsake the colours which my brother chose, but as this was more or less compelled, we came to the conclusion that the old tangerine was preferable to any colour for Blackpool.”
Since that 1938/39 season Blackpool have stuck with the tangerine for their main strip with one or two minor changes such as the dropping of the black from the socks at the end of the 1950s, and modifications to all tangerine and tangerine with various white flashings. But it did all start after a director had been impressed with the Dutch national team strip…….
When the club was first established in its present form in 1887 it used the town coat of arms and it was a primitive affair; divided into four quarters it was still representative of a seaside town with a pier, a bathing hut etc and even then this was used on some of the early shirts worn by the club.
A team photograph of 1908 shows the Blackpool squad with the intertwining BFC letters contained in shield adorning the shirts. The new Blackpool FC crest is still the coat of arms of the town of Blackpool, encircled by the club’s full name. The town crest in its present form came into being in 1899 and has been used on and off by the football club as its badge for some considerable time. It purports to represent the seaside nature of Blackpool.
The black wavy bars represent the waves of the sea at Blackpool and the golden bars the bright shining sands of the shore for which the town is noted. The seagull is an emblem suitable for a seaside resort. The thunder-bolt is intended to allude to the enterprise of Blackpool as a pioneer in the adoption of electricity for lighting and traction purposes.
The fleur-de-lis and the lion were distinguishing features in the arms of the Banks and Cocker families respectively and their inclusion in the arms of the Borough is meant to perpetuate the close association of those families with the early history of the town. The battlements of a tower represent the idea of “corporateness”, and is also the emblem of grandeur and solidity. The sails of a windmill refer to “the Fylde” a district in which Blackpool occupies a very important and prominent position.
The Fylde formerly contained many and does still retain a few windmills, picturesque old landmarks which have for many years formed a distinguishing feature of the surrounding countryside. It may also be said that the windmill sails allude to the health-givng breezes for which Blackpool is so well known. The red rose refers to the County.
There was a time when the club went away from using the town’s crest and tried a Lancashire Rose design with a seagull in full flight, depicted on an orange background and also an impressionistic tower design but both fell by the wayside.
This was followed by shirts with an Edwardian style monogram of BFC, on shirts with no badges at all. A crown type crest appeared when the shirts were changed to light and dark blue stripes but this went out of fashion once tangerine shirts were reintroduced and the town crest was back in favour.
Blackpool FC are referred to as Tangerines or Seasiders. But immediately before the change to tangerine the club played in white shirts and black shorts, and were, for some entirely obscure reasons, known as the “Lillywhites’. So, which is the official nickname now, Tangerines or Seasiders? Both have been well established and used concurrently for generations. ‘Seasiders’ is incontrovertibly the older, being mentioned in a book written in 1906 but tangerine remains unique.