Ordinarily, May would see the climax of the club season both domestically and abroad, but the blight that is Covid-19 has meant that the landscape for football has changed, perhaps permanently.
With football being suspended in March, not only do all league issues remain unresolved, but also left incomplete at present are European club tournaments and the domestic FA Cup.
With even the quarter-finals not yet played, it remains to be seen whether or not the competition can be completed. Even if it is played to a conclusion, it is certain to take on a different format as all matches, including the final if it goes ahead, will be played behind closed doors.
Other aspects are likely to be considerably different also. One of which is the traditional cup final song. Whether or not this year’s finalists will rush to release a four-minute sing-along cringefest is perhaps not of prime importance to either the footballing fraternity or society in general, but in this enforced lay-off it might be interesting to have a quick trawl through some of the efforts of yesteryear.
So, what follows here is a look at some of the footballing records through time, both cup final and non-cup final related.
Growing up in the 1970s and 80s, the first such song I was aware of is one that is still played on match days at Stamford Bridge to this day. ‘Blue is the Colour’ was the flagship record produced by Chelsea in time for their League Cup Final appearance in 1972 against Stoke City. Reaching number 5 in the charts, the record which features such esteemed Stamford Bridge alumni as Peter Osgood, Alan Hudson and Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris, has somehow stood the test of time.
The song was relatively unusual in that it was a ‘League Cup’ song rather than an FA Cup one. Not recalling too many other ‘LC Songs’ offhand, the only one that springs to mind of that era was Nottingham Forest’s reworking of the old ‘classic’ ‘He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands’ in which the main lyrics were changed to ‘We’ve Got The Best Team in the Land’.
It was a bit of a shocker, to tell the truth, and some clergymen at the time were not impressed with the adaptation of a popular religious hymn into a terrace song for commercial gain.
Anyway, cup final songs continued to be a bit of a hit and miss affair for the next few years with Liverpool’s 1977 effort, ‘We Can Do It’ peaking at number 15. Sung to the same tune as The Rubettes 1975 hit ‘I Can Do It’, it marked the first but by no means the last appearance in the charts of one Kevin Keegan.
Liverpool made it back into the charts in subsequent years and indeed cracked the top five with their 1988 Anfield Rap and 1996 Pass and Move (The Anfield Groove) efforts.
West Ham won the FA Cup twice in this period and although The Hammers didn’t release a single in 1980, their ‘I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles’ effort of 1975 reached number 31. Five years later, The Cockney Rejects released their version of the same song post-final to celebrate West Ham’s success and reached 35 in the hit parade.
Serial chart-botherers have been Manchester United, who have had several chart entries over the years. In 1983 their terrace chant, ‘Glory Glory Man United’ was put onto vinyl and reached the heady heights of number 13, and two years later the truly abysmal ‘We All Follow Man United’ went three places higher.
This 1985 effort had to compete with fellow finalists, Everton, and their song of the times; the evergreen ‘Here We Go’. Who can forget the legendary appearance on Wogan when the entire squad – sans Neville Southall- turned up in blue tracksuits to mime to their number 14 hit? The song was a popular terrace chant of the time adopted by supporters of many a side, but then fell out of fashion. It is, however, still sung at Goodison Park to this day.
Ten years later and Everton once again reached the charts with their adaptation of The Farm’s ‘All Together Now’.
Other Manchester United efforts have included a song to celebrate winning the league in 1993 (‘United We Love You’) that reached 37, ‘Move, Move, Move’ in 1996 (Number 6 in the charts) and their crowning glory – a number one hit in 1994 with the lyrical genius that was ‘Come On You Reds’.
Perhaps one of the most famous cup final songs of all times was released in 1981. Although it peaked at a slightly underwhelming number 5 in the charts, it has entered the halls of fame as far as such records go. It is, of course, the Chas and Dave assisted classic, “Ossie’s Dream (Spurs are on their way to Wembley)”.
Another song that gets a regular airing many decades later, ‘Ossie’s Dream’ with the endearing reference to ‘Tottingham’ lives on in many the memory of an ‘eighties child!
World Cups are also an excuse for a sing-along, and England have enjoyed (if that’s the word to be using here) a number of hits. ‘Back Home’ in 1970 was the first footballing song to top the charts, and it was aptly named as England did indeed come Back Home early after a disastrous quarter-final defeat to West Germany after leading 2-0 deep into the second half.
Failure to qualify for the next two tournaments meant the nation’s ears were spared any more songs until 1982 when the side released not just a single (‘This Time’) but an entire album.
Goodness me, that was a belter!
‘This Time’ peaked at number 2, and also had competition in the form of Scotland’s ‘I Have a Dream’ sung in conjunction with B.A. Robertson which also cracked the top five.
Four years earlier, professional Scotsman, the north-London born and bred former Arsenal supporting, Rod Stewart combined with the Argentine-bound Scotland squad to release ‘Ole Ola’.
One record that I personally have never seen the attraction of is Baddiel and Skinner’s ‘Three Lions’. It’s just a personal opinion, of course, but to me, it’s just noise and not even much fun to sing along to. In the pantheon of footballing songs it is not a patch on ‘Ossie’s Dream’, for example, or even ‘Here We Go’ – both songs I find myself humming to at least once a week even now despite not supporting either side involved.
This brings us hop-skip-and jumping along to the last section; that of ‘serious’ footballing records.
Kevin Keegan has a deserved reputation for not doing anything by halves, and if you have time check out the ‘This Time’ video on Youtube. While certain England teammates seem to be enjoying themselves shall we say, you’ll see KK putting his very heart and soul into the chorus. Bless.
This was his second time in the studio as he had released a solo record some three years earlier. Titled ‘Head Over Heels in Love’, it was actually a decent effort and the little man showed that the ability to hold a tune was yet another string to his bow.
Next up was the mullet-haired combo Glenn Hoddle and Chris Waddle, who dipped their collectives toes into the world of music in 1987 with the legendary ‘Diamond Lights’. What can one say about this collaboration other than ‘they tried hard’? The earnestness in which the Tottenham Two approached their appearance on Top of the Pops should be applauded if nothing else.
Finally, could you ever forget English football’s Greatest Son and the mark he left on the music world?
Following Italia ’90, Paul Gascgoine’s stock was at stratospheric levels. Well on his way to becoming potentially one of England’s all-time greats, Gazza had wooed the nation with both his performances and his tears at the recently completed tournament, and with the world at his feet there seemed nothing he couldn’t achieve.
It was perhaps with this in mind that he decided, or was persuaded, to venture into the music business. Linking together with Lindisfarne to release his first single, Gazza hit number 2 in the charts with ‘Fog on the Tyne’ in autumn of 1990.
A follow-up single, ‘Geordie Boys’ (Gazza Rap) didn’t fare as well, peaking at a mere 31. For better or for worse, that was the limit of Gazza’s musical ambitions and no further singles were forthcoming.
So, a mixed bag then. Some records were better – or less awful – than others, and some have created a lasting legacy. On the whole, though, the cross over between music and football has been a harmless and enjoyable diversion over the years.
Perhaps there are not as many ‘football records’ anymore due to the changing of times and focus. Whereas previously such records were seen as a way to increase the players’ pool before a cup final or tournament, the current game and its financial status mean perhaps players don’t feel the same need to abandon their dignity in the search of a few extra quid?
Seriously though, the demise of the traditional cup final song is perhaps a slight pity,