Founder members of the Football League, Burnley Football Club actually started life as a Rugby Club. Burnley Rovers switched codes and became Burnley Football Club in 1882 at a meeting held at the Bull Hotel. Initially the team played at Calder Vale but they moved to their Turf Moor home shortly afterwards, at the invitation of the Town’s Cricket Club.
F.A. Cup campaigns led to organised football in 1888 with the foundation of the Football League and since then Burnley have claimed every major domestic honour with the exception of the League Cup.
The nickname “Turfites” alludes to the ground’s name of course whereas “Clarets” refers to the celebrated club colours. Burnley have not always played in their famous claret and blue though.
The first colours were black and yellow stripes earning the club the nickname “Hornets”. This kit was recreated by the club as a third one to celebrate the 120th anniversary of Burnley for the 2002-03 season. Green followed and as it is said to be an unlucky colour 1911 saw the introduction of claret and blue, in pursuit of the success displayed by Aston Villa at that time. Changing to claret and blue certainly changed Burnley’s fortunes as they beat Liverpool 1-0 in the 1914 FA Cup Final, the first one ever attended by a reigning monarch. Diplomatically, as both teams were from Lancashire, the King wore a red rose that day. It is interesting of note that all white was worn for a few games when rationing during the war meant dye was too expensive. The people of the town gave their clothes rations to the club so that the clarets could return before the end of the war.
Over recent times the club has experimented with variations of the claret and blue theme, moving away from the traditional claret with blue sleeves à la Villa – they have been seen in plain claret with blue trim, claret with a blue V, and even a rather unpopular claret and blue quartered shirt, but in the end tradition holds strong, and the colours that Burnley won the Cup in 1914 and the League title in 1960 are still the favourite of the fans at Turf Moor.
Burnley took up a modification of the town’s coat of arms as their first insignia. What does it tell us?
The blue wavy line represents the river Brun. The wheat signifies the rurality of the former Burnley Rural District. The hand represents the town of Burnley’s motto Hold to the Truth, derived from that of the Towneley’s family “Tenez le Vraye” The Towneley’s had for long been associated with the Burnley area. Aahh, there! That all too familiar lion popping up again, an heraldic symbol depicted in untold varieties in various coats of arms, mainly as a supporter. In the original coat of arms of Burnley two lions from the Delacy family act as supporters. But this lion represents royalty, Turf Moor being the first ground to have been visited by a monarch when in 1886 Prince Albert watched the first half of Burnley v Bolton. Quite why he didn’t stay for the second half isn’t clear – perhaps the pies weren’t up to much. This visit by the way added another nickname for a short time: The Royalites.
To complete the menagerie there’s a stork on top of the badge. It is the punning stork of the Starkies, prominent in Padiham and the Burnley rural area. In its mouth it holds the Delacy knot, the badge of the aforementioned DeLacys, who held Burnley and Blackburnshire in medieval times. Our stork stands on a hill surrounded by cotton plants – the prime industry of the town to recent times.
Today’s registered trademark was introduced in the 1970’s. The elements of the badge still have that significance to the town as well as to the football club. 1882 represents the year that Burnley Football Club was formed. The lions represent royalty as above. The bee represents the busy town and the saying ‘as busy as a bee’ and the Beehole end of the ground as it was called in days gone by. All derived of course from the B at the beginning of Burnley. The knight’s helmet represents two knighted families in Burnley, the Towneleys and the Shuttleworths at Gawthorpe, long associated with the Burnley area. The shuttle represents Burnley’s cotton industry heritage and is taken from the arms of the the Shuttleworth family, as seen in the Padiham device and the Rural District Council crest. The hand still stands for the towns’ motto.
But of course you knew all this all along when putting on your replica shirt with its proud badge…