A New Identity?
A club's badge is an emotive subject at the best of times. For most club officials and supporters alike it is an integral part of each club's identity and to which any misuse or degradation would rightly be seen as sacrilege. To the players, more often than not, it is a piece of embroidery on their shirt which, being at upper chest level, is easy to grab and place to the lips as part of the ritual of celebrating a goal.
Unfortunately some clubs have disregarded the thoughts and feelings of their fans and done the unthinkable: change their badge. One would imagine that the over-riding factor in these instances would have been the commercial opportunities this kind of re-branding offers. Some may portray it as an overall updating of the club's image, but in the full knowledge that the merchandise buyers amongst their following will most likely feel compelled into updating their stock. Millwall, Chelsea, Fulham, Leeds United and Manchester City are five clubs that immediately spring to mind as having changed their club badges within living memory. It could be argued that the supporters of these clubs have probably got used to their new identities by now, but how many would say that they are truly happy with the change?
What relevance does all this have to Welling United? The above notwithstanding, I'm going to suggest the unthinkable: that the club changes its badge. Why? Well, quite simply, what we've got at present is crap! If you don't believe me have a long, hard look and then tell me what's good about it. It's the horse of Kent with a pair of wings slapped on its back. I also think that it's a little bit of a cop out as it is shared by others. The Kent FA and the county's cricket club use it, which is almost to be expected, and it also plays an integral part of (off the top of my head) Gillingham's, Margate's, Maidstone's and Tonbridge's club badges. And as far as I can remember the wings were slapped on the horse's back when the club's nickname was settled upon sometime in the 1980s. In fact there is no obvious reason to me as to why we've got this badge.
I've always felt that the best club badges are those that have a real association with the team they represent. Usually that means something that is essentially non-football related but very much part of the local fabric. Most examples of this sort incorporate the town or borough's emblem, e.g. Burnley's, Manchester City's and Fulham's old badges, Sunderland's, Wigan's, Huddersfield's, and Yeovil's etc. So we could consider using Bexley Borough's emblem as our new club badge, but there are a couple of problems with this idea. First and foremost is that it would be even worse than we've got now as it is one of the blandest crests ever drawn up. What about using the borough's old crest? Well that's also a no-no in my book as it was used before by the now long defunct Bexley United. Of course that's no reason in itself not to use the badge, but I feel that it wouldn't be right because if Bexley United still existed they would probably still be the inhabitants of Park View Road. A more compelling argument for my money against using either of the borough's crests would be because of the council's attitude towards our club. This isn't the time or the place to go over that old debate again, but it is still evident to me that the council are determined to continue having as clos a relationship as possible with Charlton Athletic while only having a passing interest in the occupants of (the council owned) PVR.
The more I've thought about this subject the more I've come round to the idea of using the Hobbins family crest as the club badge, or at least as a major element of it. Before I'm accused of being a complete arse licker I'll explain myself! At the level the club finds itself I would suggest that it is rather unique in its history and current organisation with the club's founders still running it as a family concern. Your guess is as good as mine as to whether this situation is sustainable, but it could be argued that to survive at this level and hopefully beyond some kind of outside blood may have to be brought in. Whatever happens, the use of the Hobbins crest would be more pertinent to the club and its history and would be there as a permanent reminder if things do change in the future.
And I do see some room for compromise here, especially if it was felt that the old badge has too special a place in everyone's hearts. If that is the case may I suggest a redesign using a mixture of the elements previously discussed here. I'm a long way from being a designer, but how about the new badge looking something like the mock-up below. You've got the current badge alongside the Hobbins family crest with the crown of the design being the London skyline from the borough's logo. You never know, it may make the council sit up and take notice and show a bit of interest in the club.
What do you think?