Double-Barrelled Men of the Football League

Posted by on Feb 26, 2011 in Uncategorized | 5 Comments
In the run up to last year’s election, David Cameron briefly got himself into hot water with Tory grandees by suggesting that the candidate for the Somerton and Frome constituency Annunziata Rees-Mogg might just want to tone down her name a bit.

Now leaving aside the anecdote that I once worked alongside this lady for a Bloomsbury publishers (she was admittedly only on work experience), this shows that a double barrelled name, with or without the addition of a frankly ridiculous first name, is still a sign that silver spoons may have been sighted in the vicinity of the cradle.

Football is a working man’s game of course so, until recently, immediately identifiable posh boys were rare in the ranks — aside from Peter Rhoades-Brown, whom I once saw open the scoring for Chelsea against then mighty Liverpool in an FA Cup tie, and the Panini sticker album legend Forbes Phillipson-Masters, those who sired soccer stars liked to keep it simple.

But of late, new sociological forces have contrived to undermine our preconceptions. Watching a recent edition of the Football League Show, I was struck by the number of players with dual surnames operating among the seventy two clubs. Was this a sign of football’s gentrification going too far? — have the playing fields of Eton and Harrow eschewed egg chasing and are they indulging in a new populism?

I have identified 31 football leaguers with double barrelled surnames although we should leave aside those born abroad where such nomenclature comes minus any class implications — hence Aldershot’s Mikhael Jaimez-Ruiz, Barnet’s Kwame Adjeman-Pamboe and Brian Barry-Murphy of Rochdale should all be discounted, their hailing from Venezuela, the US and Ireland respectively — even Shrewsbury’s Shane Cansdell-Sherriff gets off the hook by dint of being an Aussie.

But the forces of globalization still explain the background of some of our more exotic sounding stars – Lateef Elford-Alliyu (Tranmere), Nathaniel Mendez-Laing (appropriately Posh) and Hal Robson-Kanu of Reading and Wales all hint at marriages across cultures. If we should mention our Dear Leader again it would be to point out that we are quite happy with multiculturalism thank you.

Elsewhere, a portmanteau surname can denote a host of reasons beyond privilege alone. If there are no players as yet brought up as a result of same sex civil unions, there will be those who decide that the practice of automatically conferring the father’s name on a child is outdated, others who are the result of adoption or a second marriage, and still others who feel that a vanilla last name needs spicing up a bit — I couldn’t say that’s why Craig Mackail-Smith is who he is, but Lenell John-Lewis of Bury is certainly never knowingly undersold.

Then there is choice too. Ex-Burnley hero Ian Moore switched to Ian Thomas-Moore not because he enjoyed the novel Wolf Hall, but due to his marriage to Victoria Thomas in 2009; and Abdulai Baggie turned up for training one day asking for Bell to be inserted between his two monikers.

Which leaves those who still sound suspiciously well heeled. Of these, Exeter’s Troy Archibald-Henville, Barnsley wunderkind Reuben Noble-Lazarus, the surely willow-wielding A. J. Leitch-Smith of Crewe, Paris Cowan-Hall of Scunthorpe and Keanu Marsh-Brown of Scunthorpe stand out — the latter first saw the light of day in August 1992 — just before Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula was released – now there’s some effective pre-movie marketing.

Rob Langham
Rob Langham is co-founder of the defiantly non-partisan football league blog, The Two Unfortunates, a website that occasionally strays into covering issues of wider importance. He's 50 and lives in Oxford while retaining his boyhood support of Reading FC. He tweets as @twounfortunates and has written for a number of websites and publications including The Inside Left, When Saturday Comes, In Bed with Maradona, Futbolgrad and The Blizzard as well as being nominated for the Football Supporters' Federation Blogger of the Year Award in 2013.


  1. Duncan
    February 26, 2011

    Ian Moore took on his wife's name? good for him.

    I didn't go that far, me and the wife just kept our own names, but look for an-as-yet-unborn-and-strictly-hypothetical, somebody fletcher-shields to be leading Canada to glory in the 2038 world cup.

  2. Lanterne Rouge
    February 26, 2011

    I' shall certainly be looking out for young Fletcher-Shields – you should get down the betting shop now Duncan. With a name like that I'm sure the young 'un might qualify for Scotland too?

  3. bibliopolis
    February 27, 2011

    Inspired by this item, simply pick a 3 figure number at random from the list below & relate to each column to find the name of a Football League footballer (e.g. 962 = “Pablo Noble-Taylor.” Minutes of mindless fun. I'm sure it can be improved upon, but here is my Footballer Name Generator:
    1. Lee Fletcher Keane
    2. James Rhodes Taylor
    3. Aron Robson Lee
    4. Danny Hall Brown
    5. Robbie Noble Smith
    6. Luke Noble Sodje
    7. Connor Ebanks Clark
    8. Darius Gonzalez Brady
    9. Pablo Simpson Agogo

  4. Lanterne Rouge
    February 27, 2011

    Marvellous stuff Bibliopolis. I have also been rightly upbraided on Twitter for not mentioning Lathaniel Rowe-Turner of Exeter City.

  5. Ben
    February 28, 2011

    Yep, Troy Archibald-Henville and A. J. Leitch-Smith sound like England's opening batsmen from the 1930s. As for Keanu Marsh-Brown – the double-barrelled surname might sound posh but that first name just reminds me of Wayne and Waynetta: (8:37)…


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