Dunfermline Athletic

Club History | Origins of club nickname

It is clear that they started to be known as the Pars in the early 1900s but the exact reason for the nickname being adopted have never been fully known.

It is clear that Dunfermline Athletic began to be known by the nickname The Pars in the early 1900s. The reason for this has never been definitively established. There are at least four popular explanations:

1. It is a mordant, ironic twist on the Athletic part of the club name. A play on words led to Paralytic and was then shortened to Pars.
2. The construction of Rosyth Dockyard and Naval Base before 1914, saw considerable numbers of workers and sailors from Devon come to live in the Dunfermline area. They are said to have a banner at East End Park which read P.A.R.S, which stood for Plymouth Argyle Rosyth Supporters.
3. When Dunfermline Athletic joined The Central League in 1909, they were deemed by their supporters to be at last on a par with other similarly supported teams.
4. In 1909, when the club first wore black and white stripes the colours resembled the black and white stripes on the sides of a Parr, or young salmon.

The Dunfermline Athletic Heritage Trust, based on the available evidence and the balance of probabilities, believes that the nickname comes from the first of these explanation. We have come to this view based on the decades of research of Gordon Baird into the early history of Dunfermline Athletic, the views of Club historian Duncan Simpson and the very considerable interest and discussion of Dunfermline supporters evidenced on supporter websites. There are of course other interpretations, but this is what we believe to be most likely.

Without getting into great detail, we would simply note the following from The Dundee Evening Telegraph of Tuesday 11 March 1913., and the pen of their regular correspondent on Dunfermline Athletic who wrote under the name of East Ender. He was reporting a forthcoming AGM.

Probably one of the most interesting of the motions to be brought forward is a proposal to change the name from the Dunfermline Athletic to Dunfermline. I believe this will meet with some opposition, for the old familiar name of Athletic will be difficult to drop like a hot potato. Strangers to East End Park have, I believe, often wondered what meaning there was in the war-cry of a section of the home supporters, Come away the `Pars.` The term is an abbreviation of the word Paralytics, which at one time an unkind critic had dubbed the Athletics.

In the event the proposal to change the name was not adopted, and East Ender was of the view that keeping Athletic, also allowed the nickname The Pars to continue.

The truth is that the ironic use of the term Pars could have happened during any poor season since 1885. But from 1909, this was a club on the up, and it is likely that the nickname was well established in the minds of the supporters before then.

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