Thank You For The Music
It has been a while since we did this, isn’t it? Last weekend, though, I took it upon myself to download 800mb of football songs. My life is one constant social merry-go-round, I can tell you. Now, the majority of these songs are terrible, obviously, and they haven’t been tagged properly, so it is taking me a while to work my way through them all (in particular the ones that aren’t in English, which is all of them) and some of them are vile skinhead songs (you know the sort of thing – punky metal things about how great it is to be a white skinhead who loves fighting), but some of them warrant further inspection. I’m not making any excuses for any of these songs. They’re all absolutely appalling. The picture on the left, by the way, appears to be of the Spurs 1972 UEFA Cup winning team.
1. Leeds United Calypso: The Manchester United Calypso has, of course, entered national folklore. That doesn’t mean that it was a good idea for Leeds to have a go at it, too. For one thing, the very concept of a calypso being sung in a thick West Riding accent blows my mind. Secondly, there’s the small issue of the Zappa-esque shouting of “LEEDS LEEDS LEEDS”, out of time with the music, towards the end. Finally, um, there’s the massive casual racism of saying that Albert Johanneson, the elegant black South African defender who became the first black player of the modern era when he signed for Leeds in 1965 “could be from Timbuktu” caused my jaw to drop to the floor. Have Leeds United ever done anything that wasn’t completely charmless?
2. Blackpool FC: I would have thought that the natural thing for any Blackpool fan wanting to write a song about his team would be to change the words of George Formby’s (frankly almost literally) seminal “With My Little Stick Of Blackpool Rock”. Not so, apparently. I have no idea where this particular curio comes from. It makes reference to the 1953 FA Cup Final, so it’s from since then, but I can’t work out quite when. Maybe it was released to coincide with their 1971 Anglo-Italian Cup triumph. Who knows?
3. Manchester City: I’m going out on a limb here and confidently predicting that this was released for the 1981 FA Cup Final (in which, contrary to legend, they pushed Spurs all the way – Tottenham required an own goal to force a replay in the first match and City took them into extra time before Ricardo Villa briefly became the best footballer in the world). It would have been shunted out of the limelight by the all-conquering Chas & Dave, though. This is all guesswork, I would remind you. I know a Manchester City fan, but I haven’t seen him for a month.
4. Arsenal: Nick Hornby points out in “Fever Pitch” that part of the appeal of the Arsenal team of the 1960s for him was that they were never as glamorous as other London clubs like Chelsea or even Queens Park Rangers. They’re a slick marketing machine now, of course, but such slickness sits uncomfortably at a club that made boring their opposition into submission their raison d’etre, as can be heard from this song, which reads like the transcription of the football commentary of a match from the mid-1990s between Arsenal and Manchester United.
5. Heart of Midlothian: Rather like Blackpool, Hearts fans haven’t had a great deal to celebrate over the last twenty years or so (unless we’re counting their recent Scottish Cup win against Gretna), and I think it’s safe to assume that they didn’t release a song to celebrate when they pissed their chips away at Dundee on the last day of the 1985/86 season. The Proclaimers are Hibernian fans, I think (in case you were wondering).
6. Scarborough: Football songs celebrating events have fallen out of fashion of late, but there was a time when footballers didn’t need much of an excuse to be tempted into a recording studio. In the case of the late Scarborough (who were celebrating their 1987 Conference championship here), though, it wasn’t so much a recording studio as the bedroom of a thirteen year old with a Casio keyboard. I think you can pass this sort of thing as “punk” nowadays.
7. Nottingham Forest: Ah, yes. “We’ve Got The Whole World In Our Hands”. The thing is that, somewhat surprisingly, Forest could stake a claim for this at the time. Think about living in a world in which Nottingham Forest were the European Champions for two years in a row. Just stop and think about it for a moment. And it happened within most of our lifetimes, as well. Anyway, this was released to coincide with Forest’s 1979 League Cup Final win. Sadly, it doesn’t feature a Brian Clough rap.
8. Rangers: This folky little number, representing the blue half of Glasgow, it actually quite hummable until you get to the chorus. Fortunately, it manages to steer clear of any catholic-baiting and is mercifully free of too much flag-waving. It’s called “The Blue Sea Of Ibrox”.
9. Celtic: In the interests of balance, I thought that I’d better put this up. It’s a tribute to Jimmy Johnstone and, whilst I appreciate that he might have been one of their greatest ever players, but to say that he is a better player than Pele is, I think, rather pushing the envelope.
10. Soccer Superstar: Regular listeners to the Baker & Kelly podcast will already be aware of the existence of this song. I don’t think any further comment needs to be passed upon it.
Some of the efforts of our continental brethren will follow at a later date.