50 Best Football Chants: 40-31 – the oldest crowd song, wheelbarrows and more
Yesterday we gave you the rundown of 50-41, so we now count down to 30. How many of the following have you sung?
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40. On Top Of Old Smokey (The Wheelbarrow Song)
It’s impossible not to see a parallel between Notts County’s perennial lower-league underachievement (they were once discovered to be the most stressful team in the country to support), and their woeful ode about a shoddy piece of garden equipment.
“I had a wheelbarrow / the wheel fell off” is simultaneously comic and melancholy; some claim it was inspired by an actual groundsman who did indeed suffer a barrow malfunction at Meadow Lane. It’s sung to On Top Of Old Smokey, an appropriately tragic tune about losing a lover for courting too slow. They’ll never learn. (NM)
39. We Are Sailing
Last time we checked, Chesterfield was nowhere near the sea, but it doesn’t stop their fans singing Rod Stewart’s 1975 hit – written in 1972 by Aberdonian singing siblings the Sutherland Brothers – on the rare occasion their team are ‘sailing’ to victory.
‘Stormy waters’, we are told, reflects life in the lower leagues. More understandable is Millwall’s rework of the refrain of "No-one likes us, we don’t care". Originating in the late ’70s, when the club, rightly or wrongly, were made scapegoats for a new wave of hooliganism, it’s since been worn like a badge of honour by all Lions fans, law-abiding or otherwise, to create a siege mentality. (LM)
38. Mull of Kintyre
It’s easy to forget that Paul McCartney made some real dross with Wings. But some of it resulted in massive hits, and Forest fans were so enamoured with his wistful ode to a vast Scottish lake that they hijacked it for a chant in the late ’70s.
And somehow it works. Their version swaps the rural Highlands for the City Ground and River Trent. Oh, and it ditches the bagpipes, which thankfully results in something a bit less David Bellamy and a bit more Brian Clough.
“Oh mist rolling in from the Trent, my desire is always to be here, oh City Ground...” (EP)
37. Glad All Over
If something’s been around since the 1960s and is still in use on a weekly basis, it’s probably all right. Palace fans know that. Glad All Over has been their terrace anthem of choice since The Dave Clark Five released it way back when.
Eagles players themselves have been known to get in on the act, too. Memorably, the 1990 FA Cup runners-up – including Mark Bright, Nigel Martyn and current boss Alan Pardew – recorded a particularly cheery/cheesy version, complete with handclaps. It’s well worth a watch.
Also worth a mention at this juncture: I Will Follow You by Little Peggy March, often heard raucously expelled from Palace fans too. (EP)
36. On The Ball City
This Norwich City club song is reportedly the oldest club song in the world (according to club historians). And to be fair that might be true given the rather outlandish lyrics: "Kick off, throw-in, have a little scrimmage...". Well, we've seen some of Cameron Jerome's misplaced passes recently but surely this is going too far...
When Canaries fans chirp up with "On the ball, City" you can be sure there'll be a rousing bout of "Never mind the danger" to galvanise the yellows into playing the ball on the deck in a brave fashion lauded through the years. As the song goes, "Let all tonight then drink with me / To the football game we love". Indeed. (GM)
35. Seven Nation Army
Could feedback-crazed White Stripes axeman Jack White have realised the reach that his melody was going to have when he pulled this monster riff out of his noisy bag? It first became a staple for a guttural sing-along among the Blue Army of Club Brugge fans, who themselves passed it on to Roma supporters at a 2006 UEFA Cup fixture (Italians called it the Po Po Po song).
It spread like wildfire, becoming Italy’s unofficial anthem for the 2006 World Cup: after they won, stars like Del Piero led a glorious rendition of it at the celebrations in Rome. “I’m honoured the Italians have adopted it,” said White himself, and it’s since become a ubiquitous stadium favourite across Europe and America. (NM)
34. My Old Man
A minute of verse so profane that it’d make Eminem blush, this is a classic yarn of a child rebuking his father’s suggestion that he support The Rival Team. Its stanza – “b*llocks, you’re a c*nt” – informs dad in no uncertain terms that the youngster finds the idea distasteful.
Indeed, he’d “rather sh*g a bucket with a big hole in it/ than be a [City] fan for just one minute”. What’s more, the ungrateful son starts to get shirty, claiming “With hammers and hatchets, Stanley knives and spanners/ we’ll show the [City] b*stards how to fight.” You’ve made your point, son. Also available in Villa and either North London flavour, among others, it’s an adaptation of the 1919 music hall hit in which the old man, perhaps more sensibly, suggests that his offspring follows a van. (NM)
A classic spiritual appeal for the Lord to descend and give help to those who are suffering (“sinners need you, Lord / come by here”), Kumbayah was most popularly applied in a football context to an unlikely five-foot six ginger Messiah going by the name of Paul. Scholesy was a laser-guided passing machine at Old Trafford between 1992 and 2013, and his decent strike rate in the earlier portion of his career gave birth to a reworked version of the hymn, the beautifully simple: “Paul Scholes / he scores goals”. Also applied to Bristol Rovers’ Jo Kuffour, Paul McGrath and Southend’s Lee Sawyer. (NM)
AKA: “Vieiraaa, whooaaooh”. Volare (‘Flying’) is an Italian ballad famously sung, in English, by Dean Martin, though Frank Sinatra, David Bowie and Cliff Richard all had a go with varying degrees of success. Arsenal’s version wasn’t a huge departure, apart from adding that their midfield enforcer “came from Senegal” and “plays for Arsenal”.
Yet despite Volare’s popularity in that part of London, Millwall weren’t allowed to use it in another. When the Lions planned to release an FA Cup song for their 2004 Final appearance in tribute to another midfield enforcer, their then-manager Dennis Wise, music titans EMI refused permission. Snobs. (HD)
31. Follow, Follow
It’s not been easy to follow Rangers over the past few years, but those who have will be used to belting out Follow, Follow.
Based on a 19th-century hymn, the song announces fans’ intentions to follow the Gers to Dundee, Hamilton and Aberdeen (their thoughts on more recent ties against Brechin, Arbroath and Falkirk are not recorded).
While the original hymn has uncontroversial lyrics, its tune has been adopted by sectarian elements. Even so, it remains a mainstay for the Ibrox faithful. (JT)
Writers: Huw Davies, Nick Moore, Emyr Price, Gregor MacGregor and Jamie Thunder.