Despite Oldham Athletic having a feathered mascot, it’s been a long time since they were a top–flight club. Nevertheless, their badge is a real head-turner. The Latics have long been associated with the owl, which has appeared on all the club’s emblems, from the 1950s insignia that saw the bird flanked by Lancashire’s red roses to the multiple iterations that featured the creature perched atop a football. The current crest, a horned owl with eyes of deep amber, was designed by lifelong Latics fan Ric Dennis of design outfit Eden Creative.
The bird is linked to the town not because of the famed wisdom of its residents, nor because they have camouflaged plumage and are exceptional nocturnal hunters, but because of something far simpler: pronunciation. That’s right, locals call the town “Owldham”.
The name is said to date back to the year 865, when Danish invaders established a settlement called Aldehulme, a title which was warped by time and language and later became Oldham. The town’s coat of arms is that of the ancient Oldham family and features four owls alongside the motto Sapere Aude or “dare to be wise”. The Latin contains a play on the name too, with “Aude” containing the syllable “Owd” of the local pronunciation.
The Latics may not be the wisest or the most efficient hunters on the pitch but when it comes to striking animalistic imagery they rule the roost.
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Written by Sean McGeady