Crewe Alexandra played cricket and probably rugby at the Earle Street Ground before they decided to form a football club in 1877. The origins of the name of the club are still unsubstantiated. Whether they took the name ‘Alexandra’ from a hotel, patronised by those connected with the railway works and where they held their meetings, or whether it was after Princess Alexandra of Denmark, who married Queen Victoria’s eldest son, later King Edward VII, is a matter of conjecture.
The establishment of Crewe Alexandra FC in 1877, known affectionately as ‘The Alexandrians’, coincided with the club moving to the newly built Alexandra Recreation Ground, also known as the Nantwich Road venue, encompassing a cricket field, a football pitch and a cycling track. Crewe Alexandra were elected into the second division of the league in 1892. However, a reluctance to adopt professionalism cost the club dear and in 1896 they failed to be re-elected. To add to the misery the club were at the end of their lease at The Recreation Ground and thus without a home.
After having been forced to switch several home games to their opponent’s grounds and having used an unidentified venue and the Britannia Recreation Ground for short spells, the remainder of the 1896/1897 season was played out at an open field at Eddleston Road and at a patch of land called the Old Sheds Field, now the Royal Hotel car park. Eventually Crewe Alexandra returned to the Earl Street cricket ground enclosure and from there to their now permanent home at Gresty Road in 1906.
Crewe Alexandra have played in red and white since their foundation, although red became scarlet for a short spell during the mid-twenties. The red shirts earned them the early nickname of ‘The Robins’.
The club’s association with the railways is a thorn in the side of the fans that spurn the present official nickname The Railwaymen in favour of The Alex. It sounds friendlier and it emphasises the precious originality of the club’s name.
Although this book is dedicated to officially recognised club crests, we permit ourselves a slight digression by describing the former supporters association’s badge because it so nicely conjures up the town and club’s history. What we see is a robin set against a football in the top left section and a lion in the right hand section, denoting the town’s association with the de Crewe family, who attained marquisate rank but are now extinct. The lion holds a six-spoked railway wheel, symbolizing the importance and growth of Crewe in the railway system. The two Cheshire wheatsheaves positioned either side of the Crewe Alexandra Supporters Association initials refer to the agricultural significance of the Cheshire countryside. The motto ‘Iuvare non impedire’ best translates as ‘Progress rather than obstruct’.
The lion, the railway wheel and the wheatsheaves are also prominent in Alexandra’s first badge, worn in the Sixties. The lion still features in today’s emblem, perched on a football, encircled by a laurel and the club’s name. This emblem replaced the badge that had been used until the end of the 1997/98 season.
The previous badge depicts our lion, holding aloft the railway wheel between its paws, emerging from a football, again encircled by the club’s name. The absence was the subject of a fans campaign to “bring back the wheel”. Sadly it didn’t.