Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. The best football song ever is New Order’s World In Motion.
I don’t just say that because I’m a New Order fan, I say because I’m a football fan. It just is the best of them all, there’s nothing else to say.
The first ever official England song was Back Home, recorded for the 1970 World Cup, when England were defending world champions. It was written by legendary Irish songwriter and composer Phil Coulter and by Scotsman Bill Martin and featured the vocal exertions of the whole squad, filmed belting it out wearing tuxedos on Top of the Pops.
Sadly it trigged a lamentable run of squad songs for major tournaments by our home nations that never really got any better until, of course, World in Motion in 1990.
But for England fans no song has captured the mood on the radio, the terraces and in the fan zones quite like Three Lions, David Baddiel and Frank Skinner’s anthem recorded for Euro 96 with Ian Brodie of the Lightning Seeds. The chorus of ‘it’s coming home’ still rings out whenever England are playing.
I suspect it has stuck partly because it was a song created by fans, for fans, rather than for the team. Even now you hear chants to that chorus almost as often as you do to the tune of Go West. Most of these, if we’re honest, are pretty unimaginative. And part of the problem is that crowds collectively have had this stuff served up for them as football becomes increasingly part of showbusiness.
One of the many things I have grown to dislike about modern football is the pumped in music in order to create atmosphere in stadiums. Not all clubs are fortune enough to have matchday DJ like Tameside Radio’s Dave Sweetmore, who entertains the punters at Rochdale FC’s home games.
For a couple of season my team, Blackburn Rovers, walked out to the instrumental bridge of Coldplay's Viva la Vida, a rousing soaring anthem about a guilty liberal wrestling with his childlike understanding of religion. I never understood why.
My personal nadir for pumped in, pumped up music was the use of Status Quo's Rockin' All Over the World in February 2002 at Cardiff’s Millenium Stadium as Rovers paraded the League Cup. It spoiled a genuine moment of joy.
I saw a clip last week of the Liverpool fans on the Kop terrace singing Beatles songs and Cilla Black’s Anyone Who Had A Heart, I suspect they had a prompt from the tannoy, but they weren’t drowned out the way those examples were and it feels like a beautiful collective moment.
Still, if you really want an example of a football crowd giving you a proper ‘hairs on the back of the neck’ moment, go and find the video clip of Hibernian fans singing Sunshine of Leith at the Scottish Cup Final in 2016.
And remember as you enjoy Euro 2021, there’s only one way to beat them, and that’s round the back.
(From the Tameside Reporter, Weekender, June 10, 2021)