Team logos: Better to stick with fantasy than reality

Posted by Iain Macintosh

Everton FCEverton's fans are appreciating the club's return to a more simplistic logo after its failed attempt at realism.

For the second time in six months, Everton FC have unveiled a new club badge (or logo for American readers) and this time, thank heavens, they've nailed it.

In a rare outbreak of common sense, Prince Rupert's Tower, the iconic building featured on the shirt during all but six seasons since 1938, has been restored to its full, imaginary glory. This time, it looks absolutely nothing like the real Prince Rupert's Tower. Much better.

Pity the wretched in-house designers fated to work on the May edition. They have been pilloried ever since. For reasons known only to themselves, they decided that what Everton's badge really needed was a dose of reality. So while previous representations of the tower have always looked evocative and mysterious, creating the kind of tower where a wizard might hide himself away to knock out his latest grimoire, their effort was painfully true to life and thus looked unnervingly like a preschooler’s discarded plastic toy.

This is the problem with Price Rupert's Tower. It’s not really a tower. It’s more of an outhouse. It's short, fat and ugly and, far from housing wizards, it looks like the kind of place where a gnome keeps his gardening equipment. It has no sash-like exterior and it evokes no mystery. It was built in 1787 as a handy place to lock up violent drunks in the middle of the night, which seems entirely appropriate given that just over 200 years later, Everton would sign Duncan Ferguson.

Prince Rupert, after whom this unappealing carbuncle was named, never even saw it. He died in 1682. It only his name only because he made camp on the site during the English Civil War and used it as a base to retake Liverpool Castle.

"Pah!" he scoffed when he saw his heavily fortified objective. "It is a crow's nest which any party of schoolboys could take." The subsequent battle lasted a week and killed 1,500 of his men, a critical underestimation of the enemy that was replicated last season when Everton crashed out of the FA Cup at home to Wigan.

In short, dear reader, Prince Rupert's Tower is not the kind of building that looks very nice in reality. What these poor designers failed to realise is that no football fan wants to embrace reality. That's really not what we signed up for.

It's not just Everton who have taken a few liberties with the truth in the badgework. On the red side of Stanley Park, a proud Liver bird stands with his head high. It is a dignified and noble beast with a tale to tell. Perhaps it is a host for the spirit of a good captain lost beneath the briny, grey waters of the Irish Channel during a long-forgotten storm. Perhaps it stands guard over Liverpool, should an enemy ever threaten their safety.

In reality, there's no such thing as a Liver bird. It’s essentially a mythologised cormorant. Draw a cormorant as it really looks and you've got a club badge that stars a small, wet bird with a mouth full of seaweed. Reality is overrated. If Manchester United chose a badge that represented their real origins, they'd dump the red devil and replace it with rolling stock from the Lancashire and Yorkshire railway.

It would be a much simpler story if it transpired that Everton had rushed the May design through without asking anyone, but according to their website they undertook a full consultation process with the supporters.

Unfortunately, bless them, they made the mistake of inviting these supporters in and talking them through their ideas. This ensured that they were given the same feedback that you give your friend at work when he starts showing you his kids' drawings. Of course those supporters said the designs were nice, they’d been invited to Goodison Park and given tea and biscuits. Scousers, regardless of anything you may have heard, are generally lovely people. What else were they going to say?

What the designers should have done is search for people's true feeling in the one place they always lurk, no matter how spiteful, evil or stupid: the comments section underneath an online article. Thankfully, that's very close to what Everton did this summer. They put three options up on the Internet and a whopping 78 percent went for a reprisal of the wizard's tower.

Football fans don’t want truth. We get enough of that when the whistle blows. We want something to hold dear, something to identify with, something that we know was here before we arrived and that will linger long after we depart. It is very difficult to identify with the kind of house that looks like it belongs under a large toadstool at the back of your garden. Graphic designers, take note. This kind of thing will not be tolerated.

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