Liverpool Badge: Eagles, Cormorants and Eternal Flames
Is it an eagle? Is it a cormorant? No, it’s a… liver bird.
The mythical creature is a symbol of the city of Liverpool – the most famous examples are a pair atop the Liver Building, where Bertie looks out over the city and Bella looks out to sea.
A liver bird also appears on the badge of Liverpool FC and has done so since its inception in 1892.
But what is a liver bird? Research suggests its origins are a bird that appeared on a unique seal used by the city since 1229. Historians have linked this seal to King John, whose patron saint was St. John. An ancient symbol of Saint John was an eagle.
Versions differ, but it appears the seal was lost and when a new one was created in the 17th century the type of bird was uncertain. Documents show people referred to him as a cormorant, a common bird on the Mersey Estuary.
Later in the same century, the bird was referred to in records as a “spatula” and a “Leaver”, the latter of which caused the bird on the city’s coat of arms to become a liverbird.
Like many other new clubs, Liverpool FC used the city’s coat of arms as their first crest. It had two hepatic birds in the center flanked by the Roman god Neptune and the Greek god Triton, plus the Latin phrase: “God has granted us this facility”.
The club crest was first added to Liverpool’s kit in the 1950 FA Cup final loss to Arsenal. It was a much simpler design. No more gods or Latin. Instead, a liverbird stood front and center inside a shield.
The shield did not last long however, with a 1955 redesign changing the crest to an oval. The initials “LFC” were added below the liver bird and this badge remained until 1968 when the oval was removed creating a stripped down version of the badge as seen on Kenny Dalglish below.
The club reverted to the shield logo, albeit with a different style, in 1986. It has remained at the center of the crest ever since. The new crest also featured the words “Liverpool Football Club” for the first time.
To mark the club’s centenary, a special crest was commissioned for the 1992-93 season. While the shield pattern was retained, the design added the Shankly doors to the top. The words “You will never walk alone” have also been added.
The song, covered by Gerry and the Pacemakers in 1963, was sung by Liverpool fans in the 1960s as it rose to the top of the charts, becoming the club’s anthem.
The doors were ‘unlocked’ by Bill Shankly’s wife at a ceremony in 1982 to celebrate and mark arguably the most important manager in the club’s history, who died nearly a year before. Shankly arrived at Anfield in 1959 with Liverpool in the Second Division and during his 15-year reign the club won the First Division three times, as well as two FA Cups and a UEFA Cup.
The Shankly Gates were moved to the opposite end of the Anfield Road stand after the new stand was built in 2016, but were previously located next to Hillsborough Memorial.
The disaster will forever remain a tragic moment in the history of the club. In memory of those who died, the eternal flames were added to the club badge in 1993.
In 1999, the crest became more colorful: various elements changed from gold to green. The Liver Bird was also enlarged and freed from the small shield around it.
With the exception of the club’s 125th anniversary in the 2017–18 season, the badge has remained the same ever since.
You don’t have to be eagle-eyed to notice that although the badge is still used on all official merchandise and proudly plastered on the main stand, it is no longer used as a crest on club kit. .
This change came in 2012-13, when new Warrior kit designers introduced a simpler design, adapting the 1968-1987 liver bird crest above “LFC”.
Although the club have since changed kit manufacturers, the simplified shirt badge has remained and there are no signs that it will change anytime soon.
(Top image: designed by Samuel Richardson)