What’s in a name?

Here’s my column from last week’s Leader. It forms part of the paper’s comprehensive pre-match coverage every Friday, featuring interviews, an in-depth look at the opposition and lots of statistical analysis. All content in the column (c) www.leaderlive.co.uk.


What’s in a name?

Only two players named Wes have appeared for Wrexham in our one hundred and fifty year history – Baynes and York –  and both of them were attacking midfielders who liked to get the ball on their right foot and give it a wallop from outside the box.


So does your name decides something about your characteristics?

Nominative determinism is the idea that your name will ultimately decide what you do with yourself. There are obvious examples in public life: William Wordsworth was a poet; a White House spokesman is called Larry Speakes; and brilliantly the CEO of dairy company Danone is named Bruno Fromage.

William Wordsworth


In football there’s the ironic example of the French goalkeeper Dominique Dropsy; Wolfsburg’s directors might have been unduly influenced by the name of Wolfgang Wolf when they appointed him manager; and Robbie Savage would like to think his tackling was inspired by his name, although in fact his reputation was worse than his bite.

Wolfgang Wolf

I’ve always been amused by this phenomenon so I wondered if it applied to Wrexham players.

Beyond Eddie May actually being born in May, examples tend towards the obscure or the subtle: Jack Mustard was keen as he had two spells with us at the start of the Twentieth Century, and Jason Soloman wasn’t a conjoined twin. Think about it.

Jason Soloman
Jason Soloman

Nationalities don’t even help me. Bill Welsh was indeed Welsh, but so was George Poland. I blame 1980s Wales manager Mike England.

Mike England
Mike England

Sometimes names even seem to taunt us, suggesting the opposite of reality. Richard Hope didn’t bring much optimism with him and Armand One didn’t even manage to score that many goals for us.

Armand One

Meanwhile, none of the three players named Parry who appeared for us were goalkeepers, Peter Skipper didn’t captain us in either of his two appearances and Dave Smallman was not particularly tiny.

Peter Skipper
Peter Skipper

Of course, there are some cases I simply can’t judge. Older fans might be able to tell us how quick Les Speed and Roy Ambler were.

Similarly, I like the idea of Harry Trainer becoming a coach or Harry Welfare taking up the physio’s job, but can’t prove either of them did.

I’m tempted to count Mark Sertori, who is now a masseur for Manchester City, as the longest muscle in the body is the sartorius, but I fear I might be pushing my luck.

Mark Sertori
Mark Sertori

Still, there are some crumbs of comfort for me. Steve Basham could at least claim some nominative determinism in his family as he’s descended from European welterweight champion Johnny Basham, while Sean Reck not only passed the Arsene Wenger test by signing for a club which sounded a bit like his name, but also endured a Wrexham career which was a bit of a wreck as we flirted with relegation to the Conference a couple of decades ago.

Sean Reck
Sean Reck

Perhaps the best example of all is Jim Steel, who was the hardest centre forward you could imagine. At least my childhood hero didn’t let me down.


One thought on “What’s in a name?

  1. Brian Little was aptly named to describe his achievements whilst at Wrexham. And Mark Gutterman? -opinions on a postcard. You’ve started something dangerous here Mark.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s