Part three in our wade through the cream of dubiously musical tones from the terraces...
Behold, the next dollop...
30. I Will Survive
“At first I was afraid… I was petrified”. It’s the opening line to many a bad karaoke night, or a lonely woman giving it a right good go on a provincial disco dancefloor.
Yet several football clubs have also adopted I Will Survive as their own, including Schalke, Feyenoord and Portugal’s Vitoria. Admittedly the primary appeal seems to be the opportunity to chant along at the end, having awkwardly waited out the actual song being played over the PA.
Still, Gloria Gaynor (who’s very much alive and gigging, by the way) would surely approve of the gusto involved. (HD)
29. Hey Jude
The Fab Four knew that McCartney’s melody was a winner, and milked the child-friendly “na, na, na, NANANA-NA!” fade-out coda at the end for all it was worth. One listen is enough to lodge the tune in the cranium for eternity, and it has naturally been pilfered for anthems widely, with the words "Hey Jude" replaced by "City" in Manchester and "Celtic" in Glasgow.
More recently, Arsenal fans have slotted in the word Giroud. The groomed Gallic goal-getter approves, saying “it gives me goosebumps.” (NM)
28. The Battle Hymn Of The Republic
Over 100 years after John Brown’s body lay ‘a-mouldering in the grave’ during the American Civil War, "Hallelujah" had been replaced by "Tottenham Hotspur", whose Glory Glory football during the 1960s effectively popularised the chant.
In fact, Hibs were the first known team to inspire the chant, Glory Glory to the Hibees even being released as a single in the 1950s. Leeds United (1968) and Man United (1983; subsequently subverted to be sung as “Who the f*** are Man United?” by opposition fans and then sarcastically sung back by sharp Mancunians) did likewise, leaving them all to squabble over whose version is the best. (LM)
27. Besiktas' kick-off chant
Turkey is a notoriously intense place for foreign teams to visit for a football match – “Welcome to the Hell” and all that – and Beskitas’ fans seemed to have worked out the perfect chant to unsettle visitors.
Starting with what seems like a standard, if lengthy, ‘Woooah’, it suddenly transforms into the closest that football has to the Haka: loud, co-ordinated and thoroughly intimidating. And the local fans achieved a world high when a few years ago they recorded a world record 132db sound level (since overhauled by Kansas City Chiefs, if you must know) to make them the loudest crowd in football at the time. (JT)
26. Push It
New York hip-hoppers Salt-n-Pepa weren’t afraid to talk about sex – as their hit single Let’s Talk About Sex surely confirmed – and their spiky 1987 ode to getting it on, Push It, somehow got performed at Nelson Mandela’s 70th birthday concert.
On the terraces, however, Push It has been best adapted to celebrate the sexy football of Reading and Wales wing wonder Hal Robson Kanu. The definitivee version is accompanied by the brass and drum of the official Wales Band, The Barry Horns – who are either a fun addition to following The Dragons, or should be locked away in a dark cell with Bernie Clifton and the England Band, depending on your taste. (NM)
25. One Step Beyond
“Don’t watch that… watch this!” Suggs and several of the other Nutty Boys of Madness are well-know Chelsea fans, and the love is reciprocated, with one of their biggest hits, One Step Beyond, being blared from the tannoy at Stamford Bridge regularly (especially after a win), invoking "the heaviest sound around".
The tune was originally written by Jamaican ska overlord Prince Buster as a B-side to his hit Al Capone, and while it’s basically just a roar-along “doo-doo-DOOOOO!”, rather than a chant with anything meaningful to say, its exuberance when jigged en masse by the Blues is hard to argue with. Also popular with Walsall’s travelling charm offensive. (NM)
24. Mer Stonn Zo Dir
If you need to give someone an example of football fans’ incredible ability to transform a dire song into a good one, take them to the RheinEnergieStadion. Cologne’s anthem – sung in the regional Kölsch dialect rather than German – is an acquired taste in studio format, crooned aggressively to a sort of Phil Collins-lite backing, but its rousing chorus comes alive when belted out by some 40,000-plus supporters.
The Billy Goats’ anthem doesn’t translate easily into English, but it features all the staples of a classic club song: pledges of loyalty, commitments to unity and the like. It’s really rather good. (HD)
23. Men of Harlech
There are multiple English-language versions of Men Of Harlech, and indeed a Welsh one – which probably explains why Cardiff fans don’t bother singing any lyrics whatsoever. Instead, “Derrr, der-der, der der-der” is repeated, with handclaps, before more of the same and a few ‘Lers’ instead of ‘Ders’, usually fading as the lungs give up.
It sounds rubbish in theory, but as a traditional ritual before kick-off, it’s striking when sung in full voice (and sung at Wales national games too). The song itself is an 18th-century composition about an eight-year (eight!) military siege at Harlech Castle in the 1400s. If you’ve seen Zulu you’ll have heard a version. (EP)
22. Hi Ho Silver Lining
Written by American songwriting partners Scott English and Larry Weiss (who also penned Rhinestone Cowboy), Hi Ho Silver Lining was a hit for both The Attack and Jeff Beck. The lyrics are a cocktail of nonsense about tyres going flat, pea soup and beach umbrellas, but the melody was a rampaging earworm, and was most enthusiastically embraced in Wolverhampton and by Sheffield Wednesday, who boasted the right syllable count to fit with ‘Silver Lining’.
‘Let’s score some goals now, baby’ also slotted in nicely. (NM)
21. Leeds! Leeds! Leeds! (Marching On Together)
An oddity: while most chants are spontaneous adaptions of chart hits, this one is a pop song purpose-written for Leeds United and still popular to this day. Actually entitled Leeds! Leeds! Leeds!, but better known as Marching On Together, the 1972 composition was written by Les Reed (who later wrote It’s Not Unusual for Tom Jones) and Barry Mason (who wrote the Tom Jones hit Delilah, later adopted by Stoke City). It was the B-side to another song, shockingly entitled Leeds United, also still sung at Elland Road. It’s tradition to stand when Marching is sung, and many a devotee signs off their texts with ‘MOT’. (NM)
Writers: Huw Davies, Nick Moore, Louis Massarella, Emyr Price and Jamie Thunder.