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What’s in a name?

Submitted by on November 7, 2013 – 4:08 pmNo Comment


By Joel Hagglund’s Ghost

The flies on the wall of the Dorsey household couldn’t believe their luck while eavesdropping on the conversation during Sunday dinner.

Beef, carrots and peas were projected at them from the gobs of Mr and Mrs Dorsey like the spray from a fireman’s hose.

It all started normally enough with Mrs Dorsey telling her son to stop picking at his cabbage. “You must eat your greens Arnold, you will end up all anaemic otherwise.”
“Er mam”, squirmed young Arnold, “it’s not Arnold anymore, it’s Engelbert, er…Engelbert Humperdinck.”

Since that announcement, I doubt if any of the Dorsey family have called their Arnold ‘Engelbert’, families just find it too hard to do something like that.

Although, having succumbed to her husband naming their son after his grandad, I suspect Mary Morrison was quietly pleased when her son Marion changed his name to John even if that also meant changing his surname to Wayne as well.

It is hard though. That very first time will take a massive effort, you will have to build up to it.

Practice saying it over and over again in front of the mirror to find the courage, preparing yourself for that first embarrassing encounter.

It’s mumbled the first time of course, a first shot at the bows to give your intentions, and that’s fine and fully understood by the name changer, who will appreciate the awkwardness of the moment, indeed the name changer will feel equally awkward as this massive hurdle is being jumped.

It may be though that it’s just very small hurdles that some families find difficult. Anthony to Tony, Robert to Rob, Patricia to Pat, Deborah to Debbie, David to Dave, Thomas to Tom and Richard to Dick (probably understandable though that one, and probably only used in modern times by his ex-wife and those that think he really is one).


The armed forces have a roast dinner spraying day. It’s unofficial though and doesn’t involve any pomp and ceremony. Its occurs usually on the first day of a rookie’s first ever home leave, and not many squaddies, jack tars or brylcreme boys escape this day. You are a rare person indeed to have survived basic military training without the name that your mam and dad agonised over being rearranged.

John Clarke came home as Nobby, David Wilson was now Tug, Paul Miller became Dusty, Peter White asked his mam to call him Chalky cos all his mates did, and regional names like Geordie, Scouse and Brummy were in abundance.

Francis, I was told by a corporal on my first day in the army, was a ‘tart’s name – you will now be known as Frank by your peers…I on the other hand will continue to call you pillock’.

I liked that. As a kid I never liked my name anyway. Francis Lee saw to that, and I always felt sorry for Francis Burns for being left out of the 1968 European Cup final, having played in six of the games leading up to it.

So when my coming out day came, my mam showed a deaf ‘un and never once called me anything other than Francis.

My dad however took to it surprisingly easy, not even an embarrassed mumble, this could have been due to a number of things…

One of them could be that he’d just got in from The Falcon on Langley and was dozing off while watching Sunday football highlights helped by the fall-asleep tones of Gerald Sinstadt (his mam said no to Gerry).

Or maybe it was because he had had to go through the wall splattering day himself, having gone from Arthur to Nick (I never did find out why) and his brother had also had gone through a transition from Francis to Frank so it seemed almost a family tradition.

There are others though that can’t jump that hurdle, it’s not easy, even after 40-odd years of being an ex-Francis. That’s ok though, I‘ve now grown to think my birth name is ok.

When I first heard the name FC United of Manchester I found it hard to say when I was explaining to others about who we are and what we’re all about. It sounded like a bit of a piss take, a jumbling around of words to form another group of words.

Living in the West Country it’s even harder to get the name across. If you live in Manchester, by now most football fans are at least aware of who we are, down here it’s not always the case.

While talking football in the pub or at work and saying that I support FC United of Manchester, people here look at me with that sort of confused expression that says that I must be verbally dyslexic (I’m sure there is a proper word for that condition) or if they know me, think I’m pissed.

They wait for the usual talk of Fergie, Giggs, Scholes et al, but when, during my conversation, I mention our squad, their confusion gets them scurrying to their mobile phones to google Norton, Spencer and Wolfenden in order to find out when they signed for Manchester United and how this somehow got past them.

But now the name has grown on me, it’s a lovely name, loved by all at our football club. FC United of Manchester trips off the tongue just the same as Manchester United does.
It took a bit of an effort at first, a bit of mumbling about, but I got there in the end.

- This article is taken from AFL issue 10. The new issue 11 is out now. Buy here: Online Stall
You can also buy it at the Working Class Movement Library in Salford, Cornerhouse Manchester and the National Football Museum at Urbis in Manchester city centre. Furthermore it is sold at all FC United games.

All proceeds towards something nice at FC United’s new home in Moston.

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