St Mirren Football Club was established in 1877. Similarly to Kilmarnock in 1869, Heart of Midlothian in 1874 (potentially), St Johnstone in 1884 and Dunfermline Athletic in 1885, St Mirren FC was formed when members of St Mirren Cricket Club took a notion to play football in the winter months to keep up fitness levels.
So highly were St Mirren regarded even in these early years that the club were invited to become founding members of the Scottish Football League in 1890. By 1908, St Mirren reached the first of their six Scottish Cup finals, but their opponents, Celtic, proved too strong for the buddies. St Mirren had another shot at glory against Celtic in the 1925/26 final, which would be their first of three Scottish Cup victories (the others being the 1958/59 and the 1986/87 finals).
In the 2017/18 season, St Mirren Football Club topped the Scottish Championship table and gained promotion to the top tier after a three-season spell in the second tier. Best of luck to the Buddies in the 2018/19 season.
The St Mirren kit first included a badge, consisting of the Paisley coat of arms and a banner reading ‘St Mirren FC’, during the Second World War. A badge was not used consistently until the 1950s. Slight variations of this badge were used off and on throughout the sixties and seventies. From 1981 until 1984, a new badge was used, which reduced the size of the Paisley coat of arms inside a black and white striped shield. Supporters were not keen on this badge, and so the club reused the earlier coat of arms badge.
In 1995, the coat of arms was first placed inside a circle, though the inclusion of the traditional mural crown brought a legal challenge from the Court of the Lord Lyon, as a 1672 law requires that all coats of arms in Scotland must be registered. The club bypassed this challenge the following season by creating a more figurative mural crown of black and white stripes for which the Saints are known, present in the current badge.
I don’t find the current St Mirren badge particularly weak, but there is a displeasing heaviness to the design. We’ve got this busy coat of arms (with an intrusive and thick black border), bordered by a clunky typeface and the heavy black and white stripes of the mural crown. These stripes, in particular, create an aesthetic incoherence.
In my initial redesign, I drew inspiration from the 1981 ‘SMFC’ badge, which I consider to be quite handsome. In this redesign, the coat of arms was simplified and reduced in size. For the text, I employed what I consider to be a more elegant Roman typeface.
I was never completely satisfied with this badge redesign. In particular, I found the coat of arms and date difficult to see. Given that this 1981 badge was not an especially popular one among St Mirren supporters, I opted to go a completely different route. I began from scratch, sketching a crosier (a hooked staff carried by an abbot or bishop as a symbol of pastoral office). Most depictions of Paisley’s coat of arms feature an abbot holding a crosier, as Paisley’s patron saint, Mirren (or St Mirin) is considered the founder of the community that occupied the site of what would become the Abbey of St James and St Mirren, now known as Paisley Abbey. Most heraldic depictions of abbots include the head of the crosier closed in on itself, like a spiral, indicating the abbot’s pastoral care for the ‘inward’ community of the monastery. The head of a bishop’s crosier, on the other hand, is depicted as terminating outward.
In my sketching, I realised that an outward-pointing crosier can be designed to look very much like an ‘S’. I chose to abandon the heraldic convention for the sake of the design in order to make the minimalistic monogram below. The ‘S’ and ‘T’, for ‘Saint’, are part of the crosier, with an ‘M’ passing through the middle. I have also included three stars within the crosier head to commemorate St Mirren’s three Scottish Cup victories. The crosier monogram is enclosed by a vesica piscis, calling back to medeival seals and emblems.
As ever, I am indebted to Dave at Historical Football Kits for some of the historical information used above.