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November 2020

The origins of the Arsenal badge and the club’s motto

By Tony Attwood

There was a brief discussion on Untold about the club badge recently.  I thought I might update the issue, and indeed add something about the club motto – just in case it is of interest.

Below is a statement issued by the Club when the crest was introduced in 2002, and below that is a piece about the club motto.

This is what the club said about the club crest…

The decision to create the new crest was two-fold. Principally, as the current crest incorporates many separate elements, which have been introduced over a number of years, there is uncertainty surrounding its exact origination.  As a consequence the elub is unable to copyright this crest.

Secondly, it has always been one of the Club’s primary objectives to embrace the future and move forward.  With a new stadium on the horizon and the Gunners consistently challenging for domestic and European honours, it is the ideal time to introduce a new crest.

Prior to the design process, the Club consulted a cross section of key individuals and organisations, including supporters, to ascertain their views on Arsenal’s brand values.  Those interviewed believed that Arsenal is very much an institution that combines the traditions of the past with a visionary outlook on the future.  These attributes have enabled the Club to naturally evolve the present day crest by retaining both the shield and the cannon, as well as adapting it into a more modern, European style.

We are however aware of our fans feelings but would like to stress that we are now in 21st Century aiming to be Champions of Europe and felt it was an appropriate time for a change.

So that deals with the crest.  But what about the club’s motto: Victoria Concordia Crescit – normally translated as Victory Through Harmony.

This topic crops up in the booklet “Arsenal After Chapman” which the Arsenal Independent Supporters Assn is publishing in a couple of weeks.

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The book, perhaps for the first time in a modern publication, tells the detailed story of George Allison from his days as a Fleet Street journalist who wrote the club programme for Woolwich Arsenal to his time as manager of the club.

Chapman’s vision of Arsenal’s place in society was allied to that of Henry Norris, the owner and chairman, such that by the time Woolwich Arsenal moved to Highbury for the start of the 1913/4 season we find the match day programme doubled in size to 16 pages, with the publication edited by George Allison, using the name “Gunners’ Mate” as he had done from  the start.

Furthermore, as Andy Kelly noted in an article on the Arsenal History Society website, the programme notes for the game against Hull City on 20 September 1913 were very upbeat (as one might expect, given the extraordinarily successful launch of the club into North London a few weeks before).

So much so that in one article the success of the club is attributed to the “concord” within the club and the Latin motto “Victoria Concordia Crescit” was mentioned for the first time.

Although the article is signed by “The Directors” and was undoubtedly written by Henry Norris (who had had a regular column in the Fulham local papers prior to the move of Arsenal and always saw himself as something of a journalist) it is more than likely that this particular turn of phrase was introduced to the chairman by the more reflective and more widely read  George Allison.

Latin was, after all, never Norris’ style.

Thus there we have it – a thoroughly 21st club crest, but a club motto dating from 101 years ago.  Personally I think that balance works rather well.


The books

The complete Arsenal Anniversary series is to be found on the Arsenal History Society site.

9 comments to The origins of the Arsenal badge and the club’s motto

  • Rick

    Personally, the “new” badge is very toy-ish, very Disney, crass, and cheap looking. The old one was a classic, time-less. Get it right the first time and it will transcend capricious mores. Look at Norton, Triumph motorcycle logos; as beautiful and modern today as they were nearly a century ago. If I had a say, I’d ditch the new and go back to the classic cannon.

  • Notoverthehill

    Tony, I thought you were with the little guy?

    It would seem that the AAA are of a lesser breed ?.

    Speaking to the BBC Matthew Reed said, “I’m gutted. After 30 years I’ve had to go through all this and drag my wife through the stress of it and this is the result. It’s come as a shock.”
    He has been left with Arsenal’s legal bill of £176,000, and is planning an appeal. He still supports the football team, though. As he told the BBC, “I’m still an Arsenal fan – unfortunately it’s one of those things you are born with.”

    An article about Mr Read, would be most apposite!

  • oldgroover

    Certainly is a poor design, but the one we’re now stuck with. Unfortunately copyright issues couldn’t prevent street sellers from reproducing the old cannon logo on shirts, scarves etc. which they were peddling outside Highbury for years. So a complete redesign was commissioned and for better or worse that was the one Arsenal decided on.

  • Augustine alao

    it will interest me to know, as an arsenal fan what the gun represent .

  • ARSENAL 13

    Well, I like the new crest. I believe things have to change, rather evolve with time (I am stuck at a certain stage of my evolution though). Even the old crest evolved with time before a major redesign happened in 2002.

    The club had to look a 100 years down the line and the futuristic design of the new crest can survive that. And this new design is more 3D friendly.

  • Kurt

    I was a bit disappointed when the club launched the new logo back in 2002, and I shared the same feeling as Rick, as far as the design was concerned. Wanting to preserve some heritage on my part, I had it (the logo) carved into a wooden plaque, no copyright infringement intended, as I would have bought one if there was one readily available. Is there anyway the Club would showcase the old logo in the official website? This would ensure in years to come, the “New” gooners will be able to reconcile our old logo with the new logo when they chanced upon one. Throughout my limited contacts with some new gooners, they appeared to be lacking this knowledge!

  • Augustine – Arsenal started out as the works team of the Royal Arsenal – the location on the south bank of the Thames where the munitions were made that created and kept going the British Empire. So the men who played in the original Arsenal teams were the men who made the weapons. The name Royal Arsenal was changed in 1893 when Arsenal became a limited company and entered the league; the name was Woolwich Arsenal at that point. It subsequently changed to The Arsenal, and finally Arsenal, but always with the association with the men and women who made the weapons that served the Empire.

  • bjtgooner

    I also like the new crest, the traditions it encapsulates and the existing motto. The combination gives a balanced “statement”.

  • Phillip

    I like both the current and old crest, although I really enjoyed the silhouette version done back a couple years ago with the laurels. My only objection to the current one is the two tone background, so I prefer a simpler outline version of the current crest.