The origins of the club’s emblem, a bit like the Schleswig-Holstein question (you may need to Google that one), are lost in the mists of time, well the 1950s. Some call it a pigeon, a pigeon rampant or the funky pigeon, others a dove. And then there are those who maintain it has something to do with the armorial crest of the family who used to own Shipton Court, the Reades, and that it is a bird of prey. But is our gentle-looking avian a raptor? It certainly resembles a ringed dove (note the bands around its legs), and there is a compelling theory, which links the club to Shipton Court, that it commemorates the Court’s lovely dovecot which dates from c1670 and which can still be seen across the road from the ground.
So which of these theories is correct? During our research for the club’s Centenary, we came across a scrap of paper tucked into an old committee minute book, which states: ‘The Badge is taken from the crest of the READE family, late of Shipton Court, which is on the stump of a tree vert, a falcon rising proper belled and jessed’. Assuming this is a contemporary reference – we know that the badge was designed for the first club caps which appeared in 1959 – that would seem to be conclusive evidence that it is indeed a falcon. Interestingly, the Reade family motto is ‘May war give way to peace’, and what is the symbol of peace? A dove. Anyway, by the 1980s the minute books refer to the desirability of having a carved ‘dove’ on the honour’s boards. Whatever the truth, it has been worn with pride (and some bafflement) for over 60 years.