IS ROCK n ROLL THE NEW FOOTBALL?
For years now, football and music
have been inextricably linked. From the old songs sung
about working men going to the match in the fifties,
to the calypso songs so popular in the sixties (see
any number of ‘Bend It!’ compilation CD’s). Tacky club
songs in the 70’s and 80’s sung by players usually
prior to Cup Finals, through to the attempts of comedians
and pop groups today.
Clubs and bands then started associating
themselves with clubs in the late seventies/early eighties.
Chas and Dave wrote a ditty for Spurs in 1981, which
was so bad they should have been locked up for crimes
against humanity. Nowadays more fashionable bands are
also becoming associated, which is a sign that football
has become more ’socially acceptable’ than ever. Sporty
Spice never has a Liverpool shirt off, and Super Furry
Animals sponsor Cardiff City. Fatboy Slim sponsors
the shirts of Brighton, which now have the legend ’Skint’ on
them (Mr Fatboy’s record label!). Local boys Mansun
helped City last season when they were asked, and have
promised to continue to help in the future. In the
early 90’s, Wet Wet Wet were the main shirt sponsors
of Clydebank FC. Heady days for both band and club,
who are both experiencing less successful times at
the moment. Even the non-league sides get involved.
Obscure rockers Mega City Four sponsored Farnborough
Town of the Jewson League a few years back, and The
Charlatans name drop Northwich Victoria at regular
BLUE IS THE COLOUR
The supporters play an integral role
in all of this. In the halcyon days of the seventies
and eighties, when clubs made Cup Final records (yes,
records – black things made of vinyl, usually 7” in
diameter), they would usually bastardise a supporters
chant. Chelsea did ’Blue is the Colour’, Man Utd did ’Glory.
Glory, Man United’ etc. These songs were often novelty
efforts, and were basically the musical equivalent
of the Chester and District Section D Sunday League
runners up. Things improved slightly in 1990, the FA
asked Manchester based independent group New Order
to pen a song for the England 1990 World Cup team.
Excepting John Barnes’ excruciating rap, this is no
bad song. But by god it spawned some utter trash. For
the first time (with one or two exceptions) every team
that got anywhere near a Wembley tea towel were asking
the local friendly chart act to pen a tune. Who remembers
the god-awful Man United/Status Quo effort? And Chris
Rea’s Middlesbrough ’anthem’? Crikey….
The monster and Daddy of them all
though, is the perennial England Euro 96 song ’Three
Lions’. The whole idea to me is bizarre. One of pop
music’s brighter groups, the Lightning Seeds, and a
couple of stand up comics who support Chelsea and West
Bromwich Albion combine and make a catchy record. Ok,
the song is a little contrived, but it is a catchy
enough number, and you can make some great chants out
of the chorus (Who remembers the North Terrace singing ’She’s
going down, she’s going down, she’s going…Dierdre’s
going down!’ at the depth of the Coronation Street
characters problems? – a classic). But after hearing
it ten million times during Euro 96/France 98, the
novelty does start to wear a little thin. I am not
even going to starton Chumbawamba…
YOU'LL NEVER WALK ALONE
The twisted vines that are football
and music are not all bad though. Some of the songs
that fans adopt are very good. Hearing Liverpool or
Celtic fans at their best doing ‘You’ll Never Walk
Alone’ sends a shiver down my spine, an especially
poignant song following the Hillsborough disaster.
The supporters of Stoke never fail to impress with
Delilah, and the funniest one goes to the Wolves fans
chant to the instrumental ’Liquidator’. Being a family
publication I cannot repeat it here, but keep your
ears peeled if you ever make Molyneux!
Some singers are true football supporters,
not just bandwagon jumpers. Has anybody out there has
ever heard of Half Man Half Biscuit? No? Well, they
are a small indie band who had a hit in the mid-eighties
with the ’Trumpton Riots’ single. When they were invited
to do the Old Grey Whistle Test (at the time a very
big weekly music programme on the BBC), they refused.
Their reason? They didn’t want to miss a Tranmere Rovers
home game! Being at a time when Tranmere were crap,
and had lower gates than us, this was a grand gesture
indeed. The Biscuits love of the game also percolates
into their music. Songs such as ’All I want for Christmas
is a Dukla Prague away kit’, which is about playing
Subbuteo at a mates house as a kid, and ’I was a teenage
armchair Honved fan’ made it onto early LP’s. Anybody
who namechecks the Watney Cup and Borussia Monchengladbach
in songs are fine by this writer.
Another big football fan is poet/musician
Billy Bragg. Bragg wrote a song called ’Gods Footballer’,
which was all about Wolves inside forward Peter Knowles.
Knowles quit playing first division football in the
sixties, to spread the word of God around the ’Black
Country backstreets’. The player believed that the
plaudits and praise he received for scoring goals was ’but
the worship of false idols’. He walked out of the game,
never to be heard of again.
Bragg also uses football ’speak’ in
his lyrics. He uses them when talking about love – ’you’ve
been up all night moving the goalposts’; sex – ’how
can you lie there and think of England, when you don’t
even know who is in the team?’; and success – ’I never
made the first team, I just made the first team laugh’.
In writing these lyrics, he is proving that football
need not always be treated as a novelty or a joke,
he is proving that it plays a big part in people’s
lives. Whether people like it or not, football is interwoven
into the fabric of our society.
Me? I blame Chumbawamba myself…