So why are Crystal Palace fans called Nigels?
Or sometimes stripey Nigels?
It is one of football’s more unusual nicknames.
As ever the answer lies in some good-natured banter from opposing fans.
So let’s take a closer look.
Why Are Crystal Palace Fans Called Nigels?
The nicknaming of Crystal Palace fans as Nigels or stripey Nigels was coined by Millwall fans as a way of mocking the club’s supposedly middle-class, geeky fanbase. It has also been suggested the nickname took inspiration from both the Eastender’s character of Nigel Bates and the XTC song ‘Making Plans For Nigel’.
It Was Coined By Millwall Fans
The Nigels or Stripey Nigels nickname was started by Millwall fans a number of years ago.
It is a jibe at the apparent middle-class fanbase Palace has. With supporters having high-brow jobs and living in suburban Surrey or thereabouts.
Fans that have a good education, go to University, talk with posh accents and have long wrap-around scarves they flick back wistfully.
It is seen as almost the exact opposite of the stereotypical image of Millwall’s rough and ready Bermondsey fans.
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It Is Seen as a Symbol of Naffness
The name Nigel is also seen to represent dullness, geekiness, and generally boring people.
When I was growing up in the 80s, the name was synonymous to an extent with naffness.
So that is the other insult it could infer, that Nigels are boring, anoraks still living at home in their 40s and taking their Pacamac, flask and sandwiches to games with them.
Or as the song goes:
“They’re all just Stripey Nigels, still living at home with Mum. They all make decent money but never have any fun.”
It Is After Nigel From Eastenders
In 1992 a new character called Nigel Bates appeared in the popular British soap Eastenders.
He was depicted as somewhat of a nerdy loser, telling corny jokes, wearing garish clothes and trying and failing to chat up women.
Apparently, in one episode, he also made reference to being a Crystal Palace fan.
So that is another theory as to where the nickname originated.
Played by actor Paul Bradley, he described the character as: “harmless and amiable … I suppose he’s a bit of a wally. Nigel is very well-meaning. He was best mates at school with Phil and Grant. Where they would use their fists, he would use jokes to get out of trouble.”
Nigel Bates became quite a popular character, but Paul Bradley made the decision to leave the show in 1998 for fear of being typecast as a nerd and loser!
It Comes From A Song
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Another theory is that the nickname came about following the release of the song ‘Making Plans for Nigel’ by XTC in 1979.
It became XTC’s first hit, spending 11 weeks on the chart and reaching number 17.
The song was about a young mummy’s boy living at home with his parents who had mapped out his future for him.
The song was adapted by other clubs as a way of insulting Palace fans.
They Wear Stripes
Sometimes the adjective stripey is added to the term, so Palace fans are called ‘stripey Nigels’.
That is easier to explain and obviously relates to Crystal Palace’s red and blue striped kit.
The Name is Now Extinct
Unfortunately the name Nigel is now officially extinct when it comes to babies.
In 2020 the Office for National Statistics revealed less than three babies had been named Nigel in the entire year.
That means the name is, for now, officially extinct.
This is a long way from the heady days of the 1950s, 60s and 70s when it was a very popular name.
It peaked in 1963 when 5,529 newborn boys were called Nigel making it the 23rd most popular boys’ name.
There were still 2,469 Nigels in 1970. But by 1980 the number had dropped to 413, and by 1990 it was 125.
By 2015 it was just 9.
But still, for certain football fans, there are thousands of Nigels at Selhurst Park every other week!
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If you’ve always asked what are Crystal Palace fans called, then now you know.
If you’ve wondered why Crystal Palace fans are called Nigels, or stripey Nigels, then we have explained it here as best we can.
The nickname appears to have been coined by Millwall fans as a way to mock the supposed middle-class, boring nature of Crystal Palace fans.
Maybe it was instigated by the XTC song of 1979, or maybe it was the character of Nigel Bates in Eastenders that initiated the name
Either way, in all honesty, it is a pretty tame nickname in comparison to some!