Why Is Tottenham Called Hotspur?

By Renata Leite, FootballPredictions.NET, 18:25 28/09/2020

Updated at: 22:34 30/09/2020

Why Is Tottenham Called Hotspur?

Tottenham Hotspur is one of the Premier League’s biggest and best-known clubs, having featured every season since the league’s first campaign in 1992/93. 

The club took the name ‘Hotspur’ from the Hotspur Cricket Club, for whom their founders played for when they formed Hotspur Football Club.

The football team was formed so that the boys could also play sport during the winter months. 

This, of course, begs the question: Why was the cricket club called Hotspur in the first place?

What, Exactly, is a Hotspur?

More to the point, it's who.

Sir Henry Percy was the person with the nickname of Harry Hotspur and it is him from where the club's name originates. And you have to go back some way to find out how that happened, too.

Percy was an English knight in the late 14th/early 15th centuries and son of the Earl of Northumberland. He was renowned as a fierce fighter in battle.

The name Hotspur was bestowed upon him by one of his enemies at the time, the Scottish army ('Haatspore").

It's said that he earned the moniker due to his speed and willingness to advance in battle as well as his use of riding spurs.

The Tottenham Connection

If you have been to the Tottenham area you may notice that there is a train station called 'Northumberland Park'. It's no coincidence; The Percy family was awarded the borough of Tottenham in 1402 by the king following their part in a great English victory in the Battle of Homildon Hill.

So, the link with Northumberland's Harry Hotspur runs deep with this area of North London itself.

A year and a half after their formation, in April 1884, the football club changed their name to Tottenham Hotspur Football Club in order to avoid confusion with another club in London called Hotspur - whose post had often been wrongly delivered to Spurs’ North London headquarters. 

The suffix to the club’s name has since been shortened to ‘Spurs’ to become the side’s primary nickname and it is the name by which they are now most commonly referred to by supporters of most clubs.

Some newcomers to the club's name have been (wrongly) known to say "Tottenham Hotspurs".  However, the correct way to reference the club is "Tottenham Hotspur" with the nickname being "Spurs". 

The Hotspur name was dedicated to the club’s state-of-the-art training facilities - the Hotspur Way Training Ground in Enfield, North London.

The complex is the home to all of Tottenham’s teams and features 15 grass pitches - including four solely for use by the first team - and one and a half artificial pitches with floodlights. 

The Hotspur Legend

Henry "Hotspur" Percy, or simply Harry Hotspur, was born in 1364 and was the son of the future 1st Earl of Northumberland (who was also named Henry).

The young Percy was knighted at just age 12 by King Edward III.  His story was retold (with artistic licence) in William Shakespeare's 1590s play, Henry IV, Part 1.

There is a statue commemorating the life of Harry Hotspur at Northumberland's Alnwick Castle, the likely birthplace of Harry Hotspur:

Percy was killed in the Battle of Shrewsbury in July 1403. 

The Fighting Cock

And what of the cockerel standing on a football featured on Tottenham's club crest?

In the bloodsport of cockfighting, the cockerels (young roosters) taking part have historically been fitted with metal spurs (which are effectively knives) when their own natural one has been removed.

This is a visual reference to Hotspur himself, who may well have kept his own fighting cocks during his life.

The cockerel first appeared on the club crest in 1921, the year that Tottenham won the FA Cup final.

From ‘The Spurs’ to ‘The Lilywhites’ 

In addition to being nicknamed ‘The Spurs’, Tottenham Hotspur have also been known to be referred to by the moniker "The Lilywhites" in the past. This tag comes from the traditional colour of the club’s home shirt - all white.

Spurs first wore a white home shirt for the 1889/90 season before a white home shirt was permanently adopted prior to the start of the 1898/99 Southern League season, and it has remained the club’s colours ever since. 

Prior to wearing white for a continuous period, Spurs played in a range of home colours, such as navy, white and light blue halves, white and blue halves, red and chocolate and gold stripes.

The early colours of white and light blue halves were incorporated into a special edition kit worn for a match against Aston Villa in October 2007 to celebrate the club’s 125th anniversary.

Tottenham Hotspur are not the only club in the British Isles to be nicknamed "The Lilywhites", with a number of clubs also going by the moniker. 

Frequent Premier League side and fellow London club, Fulham, go by "The Lilywhites" due to their club colours, whilst also being referred to as ‘The Cottagers’ after their Craven Cottage home ground. Championship side Preston North End are also "The Lilywhites", having played in white home shirts since their inception in 1880. 

National League club Bromley are the highest-ranked non-league side to use the same nickname, whilst former Football League side Hereford United - now of the seventh tier - are also referred to as such, despite their primary nickname of ‘The Bulls’.

14-time champions of the League of Ireland, Dundalk, have also been nicknamed "The Lilywhites", although their white home shirts regularly feature flashes of red and black. On a side note, Dundalk made history in 2016/17 as they reached the group stages of the UEFA Europa League for the first time, albeit finishing bottom of a highly competitive group.

That said, the main nickname of Tottenham Hotspur Football and Athletic Co Ltd remains unequivocally "Spurs" and that man Harry Hotspur lives on.


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