50 Best Football Chants: 10-1 – Annie, Hark and No Limit
Here they are: the best football chants of all time as voted by the FFT team. Just a reminder that to pick these, we looked at the following criteria (as the world of football chants is large and varied: traditional hymns, club anthems, player chants and pop-music perversions et al):
- Durability (has it stood the test of time?)
- Ubiquity (have other clubs adopted it/changed the lyrics? Parody being a good thing)
- Power (that hairs-on-the-back-of-the-neck-
raising effect/also is it catchy?)
Check out the full list of 50 best football chants here. And the winners? Behold...
10. Tom Hark
The Piranhas’ impossibly catchy number – as seen here on Top of the Pops, definitely being played live – is ridiculed by many for its use as ‘goal music’, most notably by Wigan. When Piranhas singer Bob Grover said that hearing it on the terraces “brought tears to my eyes”, he probably wasn’t alone. It’s unfair, really: goal music is a scourge on football but Tom Hark itself is cracking (originally traced back to the 1950s).
Versatile, too. Chelsea fans have adapted a version for Willian, recorded here by a man with no Landscape setting on his phone, and Manchester City are one of several clubs whose support proclaim, “United [or equivalent] sing / We don’t know why / ‘Cos after the match / They’re gonna die”. Lovely. (HD)
9. That's Amore
Pity Brighton fans. Having come up with a most ingenious chant in the early noughties in praise of their lower-league goal machine, Bobby – ‘When the ball hits the goal, it’s not Shearer or Cole, it’s Zamora’ – it was Fulham’s version – ‘When you’re sat in Row Z, and the the ball hits your head, it’s Zamora’ – after a more errant spell at Craven Cottage between 2008 and 2012 that came second in a 2014 poll of wittiest chants. The original – inspired, of course, by Dean Martin’s 1953 hit That’s Amore – is the best, as far as we’re concerned, complete with three verses. (LM)
8. La Donna é Mobile
Even football chants need to have rules. So while it's perfectly acceptable for fans to sing the praises of one Italian genius (Paolo di Canio or Fabrizio Ravanelli, say) using the music of another - La Donna é Mobile from Verdi's Rigoletto since you ask - FFT draws the line at Huddersfield Town fans claiming "Who needs Wayne Rooney, when we've got [Andy] Boothy?" Not big, not clever, just wrong. (LM)
7. Goodnight Irene
"Sometimes I take a great notion to jump in the river and drown." Well, we've all been there. Football fans love gallows humour, and Bristol Rovers are surely just one of many teams to take an early 20th-century folk standard about love, loss and suicide, written by a convicted murderer, and say: "Yes, that speaks to us as a club."
In a 1950s clash, the Rovers faithful were taunted by Plymouth fans and their accompanying accordionist (obviously) playing the popular lament by prison-troubling bluesman Lead Belly. They sung back, "Goodnight Argyle" after taking the lead, and it stuck – so much so, their gorilla mascot is called Irene. Takes all sorts. (HD)
6. Take Me Home, Country Roads
The official state anthem of West Virginia was initially a wistful number for John Denver, written by the bespectacled country titan with Bill Danoff and Taffy Nivert. Celebrating Denver’s native state as ‘almost heaven’, it’s a bucolic love letter to his ‘mountain momma’, and has been neatly adapted by those to whom the place they belong is at the end of the M62.
“I was born to be United, daddy told me when I was just a baby/ when I was five/ I went down the Warwick Road,” runs the MCR version, before referencing Bobby Charlton, George Best and Cantona, invoking a slice of paradise as beautiful in its own way as the Blue Ridge Mountains. (NM)
5. Annie's Song
They might be marooned in the middle of English football’s third tier for now, but Sheffield United can lay claim to one of the more heartfelt chants in football – with apologies to American acoustic legend John Denver.
The Blades turn Annie’s Song into a tribute to Woodbines, John Smith’s Magnet, a night out in Sheffield and, of course, a greasy chip butty. It’s at once fun, achingly nostalgic and rousing, especially when Bramall Lane is in full voice. Alex Turner, eat your heart out. (JT)
If even Stoke fans can’t agree on why they first started chanting Tom Jones’ 1968 hit, what chance the rest of us? The most likely origin is Potters fan Anton Booth, who started singing it in a local pub in the 1980s – although why he chose to do so is also the subject of some debate – and it soon became the anthem with which fans at the Victoria Ground tried to stir their team.
It’s just as popular, if not more so, at the Britannia, although in 2014 some do-gooder tried to have it banned – among Welsh rugby fans too, as they also sing it – because the song is essentially about the murdering of a woman. (LM)
3. Forever Blowing Bubbles
It may come as a shock that the only chant on our list to be synonymous with one club and one club alone may have been adopted by West Ham fans after hearing their visiting Swansea counterparts sing it in the early 1920s. Another theory is that the song - written in America in 1918 - was first used by Hammers supporters in praise of the club's youth player Billy 'Bubbles' Murray.
Further confusion comes in the oft-misquoted lyrics. So Slaven Bilic, in case you fancy singing along, it should be "Then like my dream, they fade and die", not "And like my dreams, they fade and die". Ok? (LM)
2. No Limit
“TECHNO! TECHNO! TECHNO! TECHNO!” 2 Unlimited’s musical hate crime, No Limit topped the chart in 1993 for several agonising weeks. This abhorrence did however birth a truly inspired Kolo-and-Yaya Toure inspired chant among Manchester City fans when both brothers were on the books: crouching down for “Kolo, Kolo-Kolo, Kolo-Kolo, Kolo Kolo Toure” before leaping up for a bellowed round of “Yaya-Yayas” was simultaneously moronic and inspired.
Also available in Tony Hibbert on Merseyside. (NM)
1. You'll Never Walk Alone
Written by Rodgers and Hammerstein for their 1945 musical Carousel, a UK chart-topper for Merseybeat band Gerry and the Pacemakers in 1963 and soon adopted by fellow Scousers on the Kop, rarely has a song had so little to do with football yet so much all at the same time. As the song title suggests, it’s effectively a show of solidarity – reinforced by all those scarves being held aloft in unison, perhaps football’s most powerful spectacle – one picked up by Celtic, most of the Bundesliga, a handful of Dutch clubs and FC Tokyo, among others. Most importantly, though, it inspired the Anfield Rap. (LM)
Writers: Louis Massarella, Nick Moore, Jamie Thunder and Huw Davies.