OUT OF TUNE
Football and music’s dangerous mix
THE relationship between football and music has been one fraught with difficulties and tensions. Our national game has inspired a few jolly fine tunes, but also many which should have been strangled at the dawn of their creation.
In fact, there was no real relationship between football and music until 1970. Prior to that date, the only time that football and music interacted was in the waiting time just prior to kick-off and maybe at the half-time period.
During those times of high tension, the proprietors of clubs tried to take people’s mind off the upcoming action and thoughts of fighting rival fans by means of playing some music to them over a totally inadequate PA system.
Sometimes this con-
sisted of a piped radio station, probably the Light Programme (some bigger clubs had their own “station”, e.g. Radio Chelsea). Sometimes someone bought along a tape to play;- either pre-recorded or one that they’d knocked up at home using one of those new fangled tape cassette recorders.
Sometimes the person in charge of this entertainment decided to play everyone his own personal taste, which for some reason always turned out to be Country and Western.
Even in later years this penchant for playing your own music persisted.
A while ago, I heard a phone call on one of the Danny Baker shows from an Aston Villa fan who had gone to a home match and had had to endure as the pre-match entertain- ment a whole side of an album by Feargal Sharkey.
This surely comes under the heading of mass cruelty, and the perpetrator should have been subjected to a custodial sentence. Sometimes there was live music. Occasionally, such as at the Cup Final, you might have seen a marching military style band or, if you were really unlucky, some community singing.Young football fans will find it impossible to believe that, in days gone by, the FA tried to make it
compul- sory for people to sing hymns prior to watching the Cup Final.
But, believe me, this is what happened. Every year some minor celebrity such as Bruce Forsyth or Lulu climbed onto a rostrum on the Wembley pitch and led the crowd in a huge sing-song, singing things like
or Songsheets were given out to the crowd as they went in, and the whole thing was sponsored, often by newspapers such as the Daily Express. And then, in 1970, some bright spark had the idea of getting the England World Cup squad to record a single.
was the title of the song selected, written by top songsmiths of the day Bill Martin and Phil Coulter, authors of such hits as and
This dreadful abomination went to Number One in the UK singles charts, sold many, many copies and produced much income, and, for a long time afterwards, football and music had a much closer relationship.
A good football song is a rarity – in my humble opinion
by England New Order is by far and away the best (even allowing for John Barnes’ rap) , followed I suppose by the
various versions of
But all of those mentioned so far have been for the national squad. It wasn’t long before the top clubs realised that a pound or two could be made from those gullible supporters if they too recorded a song, usually in association with an FA Cup Final appearance.
We must, however, judge these songs on purely musical content and not on any partisan affiliations we may have.
A few were okay – by Manchester United in 1994 used
John Barnes: Music to our ears – not! in ’96 – with Ian Broudie, Frank Skinner and David Baddiel