22 March 2023

What's in a name? Why the proposed A-League men’s team needs to be called Canberra United

| Tim Gavel
Join the conversation
Canberra United

Canberra United W-League: if we make it to the big time, the name should remain. Photo: Supplied.

Putting aside the continued debate over the location of a new stadium, nothing, it would appear, generates more heat than the naming of Canberra sports teams.

There will be speculation over potential players, coaches and so forth, but the community verdict on the name of the proposed A-League men’s team will be forensically scrutinised.

I have no doubt there will be community angst if the proposed new Canberra A-League men’s team is named anything other than Canberra United.

READ ALSO Tell ’em they’re dreamin’! Minister rejects CPSU’s 20 per cent wage bid

I believe this for a number of reasons, including the concept of the bids for a Canberra team over the years have focused extensively on being founded on a grassroots base.

The Australian Professional Leagues (APL) also intends taking over the licence of the existing Canberra team in the A-League women’s, Canberra United.

There will no doubt be negotiations with the owners of the name and the team at Capital Football, but it would be a travesty if there was a forced name change because a resolution couldn’t be found.

Canberra United fits perfectly with the community ethos of the proposed A-League men’s and women’s club.

It’s impossible to imagine returning to the Cosmos or the Canberra City Arrows. They relate to a bygone era.

The previous Canberra team in the Women’s National Soccer league was known as the Eclipse for reasons that escape me.

Like the Cosmos and the Arrows, the Eclipse name appeared to have little connection to the city.

The same applies to the Comets in cricket and the Cannons in the NBL.

We had the Canberra Cannons, the Canberra Comets and the Canberra Cosmos: they sure loved alliteration in the 1980s. Photo: File.

The Comets, I would assume, relates to rising stars, while I’m not sure why the Cannons were called the Cannons. Mind you, it’s better than the Hunter Pirates and the Singapore Slingers.

Thankfully the ACT Rugby Union dismissed a suggestion to call the Super Rugby team the Senators and instead went with the Brumbies, a reflection of the free-running wild horses in the adjacent high country.

That free-running approach became synonymous with the Brumbies from day one, proving more than a match for a side named after a flower.

Brumbies logo

The Brumbies brand is recognised globally as the most successful Australian Super Rugby franchise. Photo: ACT Brumbies.

The origins of the Raiders’ name hasn’t been fully clarified and it might always remain a mystery. I want to think it’s a reflection of the Canberra region’s raid on the NSWRL in the 1980s as opposed to being a name extracted from American sport.

READ ALSO Next stop Scotland for 10-year-old BMX champion Paige Cole

The Capitals have the name that probably best reflects the city, although a close second comes the Canberra men’s and women’s hockey teams, the Canberra Chill.

The Canberra Brave ice hockey team is possibly looking enviously at the more aptly named field hockey name, although the Brave has certainly been courageous.

Given the bushranger activity in the Canberra region in the 1800s, the Bushrangers seems to resonate as a Canberra team name and was applied in the Australian Baseball League from 1992 to 1995.

ice hockey players

The Canberra Brave: the name isn’t relevant to the ACT (but if you’re playing ice hockey, bravery helps). Photo: AIHL.

As the APL lines up aspects of the proposed A-League men’s team in Canberra, you can be assured debate over the name has already begun.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

Canberra 1913 FC
a) too many uniteds already (Adelaide, West Melbourne)
b) date-based names are quite popular as a convention for football clubs (1889 Hoffenheim, Schalke 05, Hannover 96)uy

Here’s a table from 1981 showing Canberra United in the ACT 1st division: http://www.socceraust.co.uk/1981/ACT/Div1/fixtures.html

Funny, I seem to remember the original ‘Canberra United’ being a men’s team representing the local Yugoslav community and playing out of Hughes oval. Dark blue shirts, white shorts and red socks…wonder if Capital Football bought the name from them?

Capital Retro10:13 am 17 Apr 23

The ABN Lookup page indicates the business name was first registered 25 Jul 2006 and then transferred to another Canberra based entity in 2017.

Don’t know if they were ABN registered but there was definitely a team called Canberra United in existence in the 80’s and 90’s and they were from the local Yugoslav community, they folded around the time of the civil war in Yugoslavia (for obvious reasons).

Here’s a table from 1981 showing Canberra United in the ACT 2nd division: http://www.socceraust.co.uk/1981/ACT/Div1/fixtures.html

Jamie Griffin10:17 pm 16 Apr 23

What about an Indigenous name? Something that ties in with Canberra. Remember all the Bogong moths? And how the mountains around Canberra were a feast? What about the Ngunnawal Gatherers, or something like that? Or the Moosehead Marauders? Ok, cancel that last one 😆

Capital Retro10:14 am 17 Apr 23

How about the Canberra Crackatinnies?

Jamie Griffin7:02 pm 17 Apr 23

Noice 😆 Canberra Carps? Or, with all the arguments over the light rail, instead of Canberra United we could be Canberra Divided FC. Stadium could even have 3 sections: North, South, and Away.

Too many United teams but it is fitting considering the Women’s team.
But one could use;
Canberra Capitals
Canberra Crows
Inter Capital
Canberra Highlanders

Stephen Saunders4:05 pm 23 Mar 23

Yes, United. Doesn’t matter if there are others, the women’s team have been amazing citizens, they deserve it.

I disagree strongly because of the unfortunate close link of that name to Canberra FC/(formerly Deakin). To avoid any ethnic association – which is once again the scourge of Federation Football I propose ‘Canberra City’, even if that means a rename for the women’s team.

Mansell Industries2:04 pm 23 Mar 23

Adelaide United
Western United
Newcastle United Jets (but they rarely use the “united” tag)
I think there is enough Uniteds

And lets not go with Canberra FC…
Sydney FC
Macarthur FC

Sean O'Connor12:41 pm 23 Mar 23

United makes sense but the league already has Adelaide United and Newcastle United Jets, and used to have Gold Coast United. That’s a lot of United.

You are missing the Canberra Capitals from your list of ACT teams, and their name fits in with the city.

I’ve been asking people what they think a new Canberra ALM team should be named and the best responses I have had so far:

Canberra Griffins – a nod to Walter Burley Griffin and the lake

Canberra Lakers – a nod to how important the lake is to Canberra. The only issue with this is it used to be the name of the men’s field hockey team, until they changed to the Chill banner, and it has strong connections to basketball given how big a brand the LA Lakers are.

Jamie Griffin10:20 pm 16 Apr 23

I’d support the Canberra Griffins, for sure!! It’s my surname too!

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.