Why are Bolton Wanderers, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Wycombe Wanderers etc so known?

The OED seems to be silent on the matter, so I searched elsewhere on line. The following answer came up. Does it appear to be a satisfactory answer in other people's opinion? Can anyone from Bolton or Wolverhampton supply any further information?

Q. Why do football teams often use the word 'Wanderers' in their names

A. As we all know wanderers are people who roam around from place to place. The first winners of the FA Cup, in 1872, were called simply the Wanderers, a name the club adopted in 1864 after moving from east London to Battersea Park in south London. But the name also conveys the rather romantic sense of a group of travelling gentlemen who play for pleasure rather than to win - a very English sentiment, particularly in the late 19th century when most clubs were formed. So we have Wolverhampton Wanderers, Wycombe Wanderers and Bolton Wanderers.
The AnswerBank

  • I didn't know you guys played football, too.
    – user98990
    Feb 16, 2015 at 0:14
  • 1
    @LittleEva you'd probably know it as soccer. There's a question or 2 in the use of "football" across the English-speaking world I'm sure.
    – Chris H
    Feb 16, 2015 at 0:18
  • 1
    Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. The early Wanderers' Championship likely inspires the other clubs.
    – ScotM
    Feb 16, 2015 at 2:07
  • 3
    @LittleEva When you say you love both forms of football, I am assuming you mean the kind the Wanderers play, and Rugby football.
    – WS2
    Feb 16, 2015 at 8:18
  • 1
    May I point out, Little Eva, that because some Soviet-era football [soccer] clubs were based around various industries, there's still a football club in Russia called Moscow Locomotiv [Футбо́льный клуб "Локомоти́в" Москва́]! Feb 16, 2015 at 12:02

2 Answers 2


There is a blog entry from the Oxford Dictionaries addressing English football club names. It's newer than the original question. The following explanation is offered for the clubs named Wanderers early on.

The names Wanderers, as in Wolverhampton and Dundee, and Rovers, as in Bristol and Raith, were adopted by teams without a permanent home ground. - ODO Blog

Everyone named Wanderers who adapted the name later on is as likely as suggested in the comments on the imitation train.


Wolverhampton Wanderers started out as St Lukes Boys as the played from St Lukes Church, they outgrew their ground and moved to a pitch in Wanderers Avenue in Wolverhampton and adopted the name Wolverhampton Wanderers

  • 2
    Do you have any historical references to back this up? Are you sure that it wasn't the other way round and Wanderers Avenue was named after the football club? Feb 19, 2021 at 21:54
  • 1
    Wikipedia has that St Luke's FC was founded in 1877, and merged with the football section of a local cricket club called Blakenhall Wanderers to form Wolverhampton Wanderers in August 1879. Quite why Blakenhall Wanderers were called that is not specified.
    – Andrew Leach
    Feb 19, 2021 at 22:31

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.