Typified by billionaire owners, £50m sponsorship deals and similarly priced half-time pints, the modern game demands a certain aesthetic. A club isn’t just a club anymore, it’s a brand exhibiting on a global stage – and that means that its emblem must be more versatile and recognisable than ever before. Barnsley F.C.’s badge, however, is neither. Instead of sleek outlines and pared-back symbolism, Barnsley F.C. give us a set of cramped and indecipherable hieroglyphs flanked by a miner and glass-blower. It is a glorious and unsightly antidote to the modern minimalist football crest.
Much like the club itself, the Tyke’s insignia has had a fitful history and has featured everything from the white rose of Yorkshire to a well and oak leaf, in reference to the club’s long-time home Oakwell Stadium. Since the 1960s the club has sold merchandise bearing a badge featuring bulldog and club mascot Toby Tyke, apparently inspired by the ritual of bringing a bulldog onto the field before matches – not the first or the last to have fouled on the Barnsley pitch.
But despite the flora and fauna there’s one design that the club keeps coming back to. When Barnsley F.C.’s crest was to be refreshed in 2013 fans were given four new options to choose from. But in the end the club chose to stick with the design based on the town’s coat of arms, which has been in place since 2003.
Far too cluttered to be the all-purpose branding device required in today’s profit-driven industry, Barnsley’s badge is one of the last bastions of a fading age of football, an age where the players did the talking on the pitch, rather than the suits in the boardrooms.
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Written by Sean McGeady