This week I had a rare experience, a good football song. Doc Brown’s ‘Glad All Over Again’ for Crystal Palace’s FA Cup Final managed to namecheck almost every player in the side, subtly shade former Sky pundit Andy Gray and feature a solid beat.
Usually when a footballer gets involved in pop music it ends terribly. Kevin Keegan’s Head Over Heels In Love in 1979. Chris Waddle and Glenn Hoddle on Diamond Lights in 1987. Andy Cole’s Outstanding, which was anything but. Sorry if you’ve clicked on those links. Really, I am. Gazza singing Fog On The Tyne. Sorry again.
But songs about football, that can be different. The first FA Cup song came from Arsenal in 1930, but they didn’t really catch on for another 40 years when Arsenal (again) released ‘Good Old Arsenal’. Given the amount of awful crap that’s been delivered since, from the Anfield Rap to whatever the hell Cardiff thought they were doing with Bluebirds Flying High in 2008, maybe Arsenal don’t deserve to win anything as punishment. After all, they’re to blame.
It’s not all bad though. This magnificent piece about New Order’s ‘World In Motion’ explains the reasoning behind getting a proper band to record the track, in that you’d end up with a good song and not just a bunch of sportsmen singing off-key in a studio. I suppose that’s the same reasoning behind Status Quo linking up with Manchester United for ‘Come On You Reds’ though, proving it doesn’t work every time.
Three Lions, David Baddiel and Frank Skinner’s collaboration with the Lightning Seeds in ‘96, was so good that it got re-recorded 2 years later for the 1998 World Cup. For those keeping score, it’s now fifty years of hurt and the Jules Rimet (and it’s replacement after 1970) remains untouched by English hands in the years since ’66.
It’s a remarkable song though, summing up the utter desperation of following a side as lacklustre as England in the period after the 1990 semi-final heartbreak and the opening of Euro ’96.
It’s not about winning, or being the best. It’s about being rubbish. It’s about everyone knowing you’re rubbish. But it speaks to that pre-tournament nerves that strike every supporter of an international side in the yawning gap between the squad being announced and the first fixture. Even if you know the score, you know they’re going to mess it up – there’s that spark of belief and possibility that this time, it’ll be different. This time we’ll get lucky. This time we could win it. Football’s coming home. It rattled Wembley ahead of the semi-final.
The song was a huge hit in Germany that summer for some reason.The follow up, in 1998, was tinged with a misguided triumphalism that would dog English football to the modern day. It was still a massive hit though, despite football still not coming home. Keith Allen also screamed back into contention with Vindaloo, which is what happens when you don’t let New Order pitch in.
Music can even become entangled with football in unintended ways. Thanks to a cup tie between Cercle Brugge and A.S Roma, the White Stripes Seven Nation Army echoed across Germany in 2006 and Austria & Switzerland in 2008. This added to a long history of songs cannibalised by crowds seeking a new wrapper for their noise; from Bread of Heaven to Sloop John B and beyond. Interestingly at Champion Hill in South London and in the shed at Kiwitea St, versions of Kraftwerk’s ‘The Model’ have emerged to serenade teams. 1980’s music is a rich seam for chants, one that has not yet fully be investigated and exploited by supporters.
It’s not just pop music though. When the BBC chose Nessun Dorma to open and close its Italia ‘90 coverage, it inextricably linked the song to that summer and to football. When Andrea Bocelli performed at Leicester’s final home game of the season, there really was only one song to perform that would resonate with the crowd and the millions watching on worldwide. A truly perfect moment, the beautiful game and beautiful music combined…
P.S …much like White Noise’s Barbecue. An equal to Bocelli, any day. Well, I had to include it somewhere.
Categories: Other Football Topics
John Palethorpe lives in South Auckland which is very far away from Fratton Park and Champion Hill. Having been told there was no football in New Zealand, he was delighted to find that there is.