In 1910, the two rival football clubs in Ayr, Ayr FC and Ayr Parkhouse FC, determined that their town was too small to both support two senior teams and for those teams to rival the leading Scottish clubs. The result of this realisation was the formation of Ayr United Football Club. (Historically, Ayr Football Club had already formed as an amalgamation of several clubs, the earliest of which was Ayr Eglinton, formed in 1875.)
Despite the noble intentions of the two clubs that formed Ayr United in 1910, the club has never been counted among the most competitive in Scotland. Still, they continue to survive, boasting such honours as reaching the final of the 2001/02 Scottish League Cup (where they were defeated by Rangers) and being crowned champions of the second tier on six occasions (1911/12, 1912/13, 1927/28, 1936/37, 1958/59 and 1965/66). More recently, Ayr United gained promotion to the Scottish Championship after topping the League One table in the 2017/18 season.
Ayr United’s kit first featured a badge in 1938. This badge consisted of a stylised black anchor within a white shield with a black border and was used until 1948. Another badge appeared for the 1967/68 season, though regular use of a badge wouldn’t feature until 1977. From that time until 2017, some form of this 1967/68 badge was used.
In 2016, an anonymous complaint to the Court of the Lord Lyon challenged the use of the club’s badge, noting that it featured both a Saltire and the club’s initials within a shield, both a breach of an ancient heraldic law in Scotland, the same which caused bother for Airdrieonians in 2015. Reluctantly, in 2016, Ayr United opened up a competition in which fans could vote on their favourite badge from a pool of finalists. A badge designed by Jamie Stevenson, a Scottish Ayr United supporter living abroad, came out on top, ganering 48% of the vote. This new badge, seen on the left below, was then incorporated into the kit for the 2017/18 season.
The current badge utilises several features from the previous badge, including the Saltire and a football within a cord of rope, the rope recalling the town’s maritime heritage. At the bottom of the badge is the club’s nickname, ‘The Honest Men’, which comes from the Robert Burns poem ‘Tam o’ Shanter’ (1790). The second verse of the poem reads,
‘This truth fand honest Tam o’ Shanter,
As he frae Ayr ae night did canter,
(Auld Ayr, wham ne’er a town surpasses,
For honest men and bonny lasses.)’
For my redesign, I decided to make use of some of the historical imagery of the club, though with a significant departure from the club’s current badge. The colours used—black, white and red—are consistent with the historic club colours. I omitted the Saltire in favour of a singular image of a horse rampant upon an anchor. The anchor calls back to the original Ayr United badge from 1938.
The stylised horse with a missing tail is a visual reference—which, in a badge, I prefer over an overt, written reference—to ‘Tam o’ Shanter’ and the club’s nickname. In the narrative poem, the eponymous character, Tam, is depicted as having a ‘gray mare, Meg’. In the climax of the poem, Tam, demonstrating his ‘honest’ character, is escaping from a ‘hellish legion’ of the devil, warlocks, and witches who have begun to shed their clothing (noting one particularly attractive witch, Nannie Dee, with an undersized ‘cutty-sark’ or ‘shirt’). When Tam is fleeing upon his trusty Meg, Nannie is able to grab hold of Meg’s ‘gray tail’, which is left behind.
The home kit is based upon Ayr United’s traditional home colour scheme of a white top with black shorts. The away strip makes use of the club colours in a vertical stripe running down a dark blue kit, borrowing from the old Ayr FC’s early colours.
As ever, I am indebted to Dave at Historical Football Kits for some of the historical information used above.