Hornet Heaven Deceased Player of the Month: Charles Harrison
Up in Hornet Heaven, we love a good nickname. Charles Harrison had one of the best. Olly Wicken explains.
A lot of players’ nicknames are uninspired. Heurelho Gomes was ‘Gomey’. Nigel Callaghan was ‘Cally’. Boring. Must do better.
Sure, at the turn of the millennium, it was amusing to hear our sophisticated Italian manager Luca Vialli refer to Tommy Smith as ‘Smudger’. But the nickname itself is common for anyone called Smith. Where was the originality?
In the late fifties, there was ‘Cannonball’ Fleming – a forward who had a fierce shot. That was better, but not especially witty. And, in the 1980s, nicknaming Lee Sinnott ‘Luggsy’ because his ears stuck out was just unkind.
If you go back to the 1920s, though, you begin to find some more obscure nicknames. There was the goalkeeper ‘Skilly’ Williams who, oddly, was named after the thin porridge called ‘skilly’ that he used to serve up when he was a kitchen worker.
There was also ‘Danky’ Smith, named after… who knows what? That’s more like it. Nicknames should sound good, be unusual, and get you guessing.
At the turn of the twentieth century, Jack Cother had a racially inspired nickname, so we won’t repeat it here. But there was also ‘Tuggy’ Beach. That’s one of our favourites. We have no clue where the name came from. And when we use our imaginations about that one, we giggle.
But our overall favourite is from the early 1890s: ‘Bangy’ Harrison.
Why was Charles Harrison called ‘Bangy’? Again, it’s fun to speculate. We know that he took a bang in a local derby when a goalkeeper was sent off for ‘thumping’ him. Was he ribbed about this for the rest of his footballing career?
Or was the nickname ironic because, as the 1895 Football Portraits supplement from the Watford and West Herts Leader tells us, ‘His quiet and unassuming manner, both on and off the field, has won for him the respect of his club men and spectators alike’. Maybe he was ‘Bangy’ because he wasn’t at all bangy.
But we’d guess that it’s because he was a centre-forward who used to bang in the goals for both Watford St Mary’s and West Herts before the two clubs came together as Watford FC. For St Mary’s, ‘Bangy’ scored at a goal a game between 1888 and 1890. When he transferred to West Herts, he scored twice on his competitive debut (in a 6-2 FA Cup win away to Norwich Thorpe in November 1892). Then he went back to Watford St Mary’s and scored 41 goals in the last three seasons before the merger. (At which point he joined the committee of Watford FC.) He banged in the goals, so everyone called him ‘Bangy’. Stands to reason.
Down here in the land of the living, we’ll probably never know for sure how he got his nickname. Of course, when the time comes, and you arrive in Hornet Heaven, you could always seek out ‘Bangy’ Harrison and ask him. But surely it’s best not to know and just continue wondering about the best nickname in Watford history.
‘Bangy’ Harrison is a character in the Hornet Heaven audio stories. Find out more about our podcast at HornetHeaven.com