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What is a Gopher and do Devils eat chorizo? - the names behind the clubs of the Liga MX 2022 Apertura final

Pachuca and Toluca both have curious nicknames, but what are the stories behind them?

Joe Brennan
Into the belly of the beast - Pachuca players return to the dressing room of the Toluca stadium
Alex CruzEFE

At half-time the scoreboard was already at 0-4. The Gophers walked into the dressing room with their tails between their legs and the Red Devils swaggered back inside, 11 horned heads swaying proudly.

Pachuca’s 5-1 drubbing of Toluca last night in the Liga MX Apertura 2022 Final had the home side looking around in a state of confusion from the outset; Almada’s side were relentless and everything seemed to go their way. Balls bounced over Toluca heads and nuzzled into the soft spot of the boots of the side who could not stop scoring. Romário Ibarra set them off with two early goals either side of Cabral jumping on one of the many mistakes from Toluca. Isais and Ibáñez finished it off before Jordan Sierra got one back for the home side along with some pride.

The Red Devils clearly have it all to do in the return leg, but before that, let’s see just how the two teams got their curious nicknames.

Slightly cute, slightly too much like a rat

It is quite obvious where the Pachuca moniker of ‘The Gophers’ comes from. It is, of course, the name of the small rodent that lives underground all the way from southern Canada to northern Colombia. Exactly why the football team has the name of, let’s be honest, not the scariest creature in the animal kingdom, is a little more niche.

It comes from the club’s relationship with the Cornish miners of Pachuca, who were the founding members of Pachuca Athletic Club, in 1901. After moving from the south of England, they chose the slightly furry, slightly-forever-bald critter as the club mascot since it was the animal with which they shared their working environment (Gophers live over half of their lives underground).

The name stuck, and ever since those early days the club has changed its colours, badge and won plenty of titles, but the Gopher is going nowhere for the foreseeable future.

Toluca’s Devil must love chorizo

In 1953, Toluca were promoted to the first division in Mexico and decided to make a colour switch by changing their kit to red and black; before that point they were an amateur club, playing in blue and white. During the first match of the season, against Atlane, a fan arrived at the Ciudad de los Deportes, and he had put a lot of effort into his attire.

He was dressed as - you guessed it - a devil. The appearance of this figure, plus the club colour revamp, had such an impact on the fans that the name Red Devils started to be used as a term to describe the club. The figure of a red devil was from that point used as the new mascot of the team, and the tradition has carried on ever since.

There is slightly more to the Toluca nickname story, if truth be told, as the club are also known as Los Choriceros. The chorizo-makers came about from the relationship between the city of Toluca and its local produce, chorizo. It is unknown as to whether or not the Toluca Devil is a fan of the cured sausage, but we can suspect that he probably is.


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