All football teams have their official nicknames, and some are pretty self-explanatory.
But then some teams have unofficial nicknames which are a bit more intriguing.
Why are Everton called the Black Watch for instance?
We look at that and a bit more in this article.
So let’s dive in.
Why Are Everton Called The Black Watch?
One of Everton’s first nicknames, the Black Watch, came way back in 1881 as a result of the all-black kit the team wore at that time. The nickname was thought to be a reference to the Black Watch army regiment that was created that same year. References to the Black Watch were made regularly in local press coverage throughout the season.
It All Comes Down to an Old Kit…
The nickname of the Black Watch was one of the very first bestowed on Everton, way back in 1881.
The name came from the team’s kit at the time, all black with a red sash.
It was believed to be a reference to the Black Watch army regiment that was created in the same year as part of the Childers Reforms, a reorganisation of the infantry regiments of the British Army.
Initially, Everton had played in white and then blue and white stripes, but in 1881 it was decided that the kit would be dyed black to look more professional and save money.
To lighten up the dark tones of the new strip a red sash was added.
As the team won its first five games, the local press was quick to pick up on the colours and make the connection with the army regiment:
“Mr. John Houlding, the president of the club, may well be proud of the invincible ‘Black Watch’. Few Association clubs have made so much progress in such a brief period as Everton,” wrote the Liverpool Courier on 5 November 1881.
Everton eventually lost on 10 December in a Lancashire Senior Cup game against Turton. It was their 11th game of the season.
References to the Black Watch continued in press coverage throughout the season.
The Football League wasn’t founded until 1888, so at this time Everton played only friendlies and Liverpool Senior Cup Games.
Captain and star man of the Black Watch team was Jack McGill. He was the first Scotsman to play for Everton and scored the first goal in the Black Watch colours.
Everton only wore the Black Watch kit for one season, working through a variety of colours over the next two decades before settling on the club’s now famous royal blue shirts in 1901.
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Why Are Everton Called the School of Science?
I am an Everton fan, and I am the first to admit that success has been almost non-existent in my time supporting the club which dates back to the late 1980s.
So you might wonder what Everton have done to be known in some quarters as the School of Science?
“We owe a great deal to Everton. No matter where they play, and no matter whether they are well or badly placed in the table in the League Table, they always manage to serve football, football of the highest scientific order. Everton always worship at the shrine of craft and science and never do they forget the standard of play they set out to achieve.”
That year Everton had just won their third league title, scoring 102 league goals in the process with the legendary striker Dixie Dean notching 60 of them alone.
Whilst it might not be obvious from the past three decades, in the 20th century the club built a reputation for playing skillful football of the highest standard.
Bloomer’s words stuck and in the decade after his remark, the Toffees won a further two league titles.
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The 60s and early 70s saw Harry Catterick’s side, complete with the ‘Holy Trinity’ in midfield of Colin Harvey, Alan Ball and Howard Kendall, embody the School of Science style.
They picked up a further two league titles and finished in the top 5 of the league for eight of the ten years in the 1960s.
Then came Howard Kendall’s superb team of the 1980s. In just three years they won two league titles, an FA Cup and a European Cup Winners Cup. They were also runners-up in four competitions in the same period.
When Everton won their last title in 1987 only Liverpool had won the league more times.
Unfortunately, since then times have been rather fallow both in terms of trophies and ‘football of the highest scientific order’ as Bloomer put it!
By the way, if you are wondering who Steve Bloomer is, then he was one of the English game’s most prolific goalscorers and certainly qualified to comment on footballing ability.
In a career lasting from 1891 to 1914, Bloomer scored 352 goals in 598 club games and 23 goals in 28 England games.
He is in fact still the second-highest goalscorer in the history of top-flight football. His 317 First Division goals are only better by Jimmy Greaves.
Bloomer died in 1938 at the age of 64. He is immortalised by a bust in Pride Park and a blue plaque in Derby on the wall of his former school.
Why Are Everton Fans Called Blue Noses?
Liverpool fans refer to Everton fans as blue noses quite simply on account of the fact Everton play in blue.
The nickname was given more prominence when Everton won their last trophy, the FA Cup in 1995.
Prior to the match, the Liverpool Echo distributed 25,000 Comic Relief-style blue noses to fans, many of whom donned them at the game and Duncan Ferguson even popped one on during the celebrations afterward.
Why Are Everton Fans Called Bitters?
Another name Liverpool fans have given to Everton supporters is ‘bitters’.
This nickname stems from two main points.
Firstly, certain sections of Everton fans felt (and still feel) resentment towards Liverpool for the Heysel disaster in 1985.
The tragedy which saw 39 innocent fans die, lead to English clubs being banned from competing in European competitions.
Initially, the ban was indefinite but eventually ended up being five years.
Unfortunately this coincided with Everton having the greatest team in their history.
That season Everton won the league by 13 points and that was despite losing three of their last four games when the title was already assured.
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They also reached the FA Cup Final and won the European Cup Winners’ Cup and were voted World Team of the Year.
They were being talked about as favourites for the following season’s European Cup, and then Heysel happened.
Over the next two seasons Everton were still league runners-up and title winners, but without Europe to compete in the team broke up.
There will always be a feeling of bitterness amongst some supporters that through no fault of their own the club never got the opportunity to make an impact on Europe.
Then of course there is the tension that there will always be between rival teams in the same city.
Liverpool have had much more success than Everton, especially over the past two decades.
Everton fans have been accused of being bitter about this success. And when it comes to some fans this is probably true.
If you have wondered why Everton are called the Black Watch and the School of Science hopefully this article gives you a better understanding.
Both nicknames come from way, way back in the club’s past.
The Black Watch relates to the club’s unusual all-black kit in 1881, the same year the Black Watch army regiment was created.
The School of Science is slightly more recent, but it started as a result of a comment ex-England international Steve Bloomer made about the club’s dedication to playing football “of the highest scientific order”.
Of course the club has a more widely known nickname and we have covered why Everton fans are called Toffees in another post, but some fans may still be familiar with the Black Watch and School of Science references!