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What’s in a name?

Have you ever wondered what the most frequent names to have appeared on a Cliftonville teamsheet are – or how often your own name has cropped up?

In the 142 year history of Cliftonville Football Club, in excess of 2200 players have worn the shirt on first-team duty and, in the first of a two-part series, we examine the most popular first names among the contingent.

Some were perennial unused substitutes, while others were regular performers who accumulated hundreds of appearances. Whether they featured in no games or represented the Reds for years, all have played a part in the rich history of Ireland’s Oldest Football Club.

While the first names of nearly 480 players are not known and a further 500 or so are referred to only by a single initial, Heritage Development Officer Paul Treanor notes that fresh discoveries alter these statistics on an ongoing basis and it was recently revealed that, thanks to contributions from the player’s family, someone previously listed only as P Magee is now found to have been another Patrick – adding to the 15 Pats previously known to have been on Cliftonville’s books.

The nature of match reports and Club records have, of course, changed over the decades and it is now unheard of for even a one-off unused sub not to have his name fully recorded – but what names have appeared most?

The dozen most common first names of Reds players have been:

• John/ Jack (94)
• James/ Jim (67)
• William/ Billy (59)
• David/ Dave (38)
• Thomas/ Tom (38)
• Robert/ Bob/ Rob (37)
• George (29)
• Samuel/ Sammy/ Sam (28)
• Paul (26)
• Michael/ Mickey (23)
• Joseph/ Joe (21)
• Stephen/ Steve (19)

Those known simply by initials provide the biggest route to potential expansion for the top two names on the list, with many of the unaccounted 140 Js likely to contribute to the list of Johns, Jacks, James and Jims – as well, of course, Josephs and Joes.

Likewise, the 80 Ws will surely include a number of Williams, while nearly 50 As and Hs could well extend the number of Alex, Anthonys and, indeed, Harolds in the directory.

If your own name doesn’t feature in our 12 most popular representatives above, be sure to check out the upcoming second part of our series where we’ll be taking a look at those names at the other end of the scale – including the many unique offerings that have only ever appeared once.