Well, you know how it is. Your favourite national team qualifies for a major tournament or indeed your club team gets to the FA Cup final, and all of a sudden the vocal talents of your football team (or of course lack of) are exposed for all to see. Here I'll digest through some of the good, the bad and the plug ugly and explain just why they're a whole cheesy genre all of their own. And, where possible, video links too so you can actually (should you want to) see how bad they actually were performing as well as singing! So here's a rundown of them in no particular order..
Liverpool FC - Anfield Rap (1988)
Liverpool FC as hard as hell, United, Tottenham, Arsenal! And so you're introduced to the stunning wit and rip of one John Barnes, trying to rap in the style of the Beastie Boys before a hybrid mix of the Beatles samples, the club anthem "You'll Never Walk Alone" and former managers speaking, with the players doing a dose of Scouse wit (most notably Steve McMahon and John Aldridge). Believe it or not, it was the idea of their Australian player Craig Johnston to come up with the rap single. And it's such an embarassment, it really is. The sight of Alan Hansen with blinged up jewellery is just, well, bizarre. They even got the late commentator Brian Moore to rap a few lines including "Macca Can.." in the style of Chaka Khan's "I Feel For You". Utterly bonkers, and the outcome? Oh yes, Liverpool lost to Wimbledon 1-0 in the final with Aldridge missing a penalty. Oops.
Glenn and Chris - Diamond Lights (1987)
And if you thought that's bad, well it doesn't compare to this absolute lyrical masterpiece (ahem) from the year before. Glenn Hoddle and Chris Waddle were both England regulars and indeed both at Tottenham at the time of making this track, and were always referred to as "Hoddle and Waddle". This was rather an eighties tune throughout, with some rather pounding almost Industrial beats in the background, with guitars and an absolutely hideous chorus. And boy, do I mean hideous. The high pitched tones just make you want to hide rather quickly and make you wonder who was behind it. Well, the man who wrote it also wrote the pop songs for.. Russ Abbott! Bloomin 'eck, that's a sign of quality isn't there? (sarcasm applied here of course).
Tottenham Hotspur FC with Chas and Dave - Ossie's Dream (1981)
Spurs were on their way to Wembley, and Tottenham's going to do it again, so they proclaimed. In years to come this song would be the chant of choice of anti-Tottenham songs from the Man City fans, not least as of course the 1981 FA Cup final was Tottenham beating Manchester City 3-2 in a replay. Of course the alternative words are far too unsavoury to put here, but as Chas and Dave have been Tottenham fans for absolutely years, it made sense for them to team up and do the official FA Cup final single. In case you wondered why it's Ossie's Dream, it was because of their midfielder Osvaldo Ardiles, and his epic line "in the cup for Totting-ham" which he sings at the end of the second verse. As a football song goes, it's not that bad - but spot BBC reporter Garth Crooks in the Tottenham squad miming hopelessly out of synch!
Gazza and Lindisfarne - Fog On The Tyne (1990)
So, England have had a good World Cup (semi final loss on penalties to Germany, no less!) and Paul Gascoigne's tears after him being booked during that game despite some admirable performances to get us there had everyone on his side. So when he started the 1990/91 season with Gary Lineker at Tottenham, as you can imagine everyone was cheering both of those heroes. Success went to his head, he teamed up with those Geordie folk legends Lindisfarne, and put together this rather naff version of "Fog On The Tyne" with Gazza deciding to rap all over the verses with some really bad lyrics and attempting to sound credible. At least John Barnes rescued his rap singing during "World In Motion". This, on the other hand, is pretty inexcusable really. And it got to number two!
Englandneworder- World In Motion (1990)
And talking of the 1990 World Cup, is it no irony that the best football songs have got us further in the tournaments than any other? Think of Three Lions in Euro 1996, and New Order's only number one hit six years earlier. Co-written by the band and Keith Allen, and featuring a very redeemable rap by John Barnes (lessons learned from Anfield rap, obviously) and the late Kenneth Wolstenhome's classic World Cup 1966 final commentary at the start, it's just the stuff of legend. When the whole squad join in at the end and actually start singing along they don't even sound that bad. Studio trickery or genuine vocals? Who knows, but note that Steve McMahon and Paul Gascoigne are two of the vocalists, signs from the past and future. Not to mention Barnesy trying to even dance a bit, some seventeen years before Strictly Come Dancing. I still think it's the best football song. Ever. End of.
Kevin Keegan - Head Over Heels In Love (1979)
The curly hair permed one had had a colourful career even before this, winning trophies with Liverpool, being on a Green Cross Code advert, falling off his bike in Superstars and then signing for Hamburg in 1978. It was over there that he decided to have a hand at being a pop star and with the two blokes from Smokie writing it, it was a simple love song that didn't require much remembering of the words so that it could be sung along to pretty easily. The curly perm and hackneyed 70s video effects with colour were there in the original video, which I sadly couldn't find, but the song's below for your enjoyment (well, sort of). It was quite a hit in Germany and even made the top 40 here, but then again if David Hasselhoff's a big pop star there, you do have to wonder..
Everton FC - Here We Go (1985)
Ah, the days of the eighties FA Cup final, when usually one or both sides would release a Cup Final song. After winning the Cup in 1984, Everton found themselves back at Wembley to try and do the League and Cup double - unfortunately they lost 1-0 to Man Utd in extra time. Still, they did also win the European Cup Winners' Cup that year as well. Their Cup Final anthem was basically the old song "The Stars and Stripes Forever" with the lyrics changed to "Here we go, here we go, here we go, Everton is the best we all know" (etc) and even now the club's fans sing the one line "Everton, Everton, Everton" (etc) so the same song, ad infinitum. You'd think they'd come up with something more original, you know?
Suggs and Chelsea FC - Blue Day (1997)
Fast forwarding to the 1990s and still the Cup Final single charts. This time around the Chelsea squad, years before Abramhovic and some Portugese manager came along, they were still winning the odd trophy now and then. This time around they enlisted the help of Suggs, lead singer of Madness, and diehard Chelsea fan, to knock together a singalong tune that everyone could yell "We're gonna make it a Blue Day" and "Chelsea Chelsea" along to. Even bits of string arrangements a la Oasis' "Whatever" crept in this one, and Suggs didn't do that bad a job really. Must have helped in the final, as Roberto di Matteo scored after a mere 40 seconds and Chelsea went on to win 2-0. There endeth the lesson.
Leeds United - Leeds! Leeds! Leeds! (aka Marching On Together) (1972)
In the 1970s, Leeds United were not only good and in the top division, but actually one of the best teams in the country as well. They had reached the FA Cup final that year and although the A-side, the originally titled "Leeds United" was the single for the final, it was the B-side, sung by the squad, that would end up being a terrace chant for Leeds some thirty five years later. The actual title is called "Leeds! Leeds! Leeds!" in case you didn't know, but as the chorus referred to "Marching On Together" considerably, it was that line which was picked up by the faithful in years to come. Indeed, it's still played before kick off at Elland Road, thus cementing its place as one of the better football songs out there - not least as the whole squad at the time sang their heart out. This clip from their 1992 league title winning celebration should demonstrate it thus:
Manchester City FC - The Boys In Blue (1972)
I couldn't let this article pass without a tribute to my own team, Manchester City. They realised that they needed a club song that the team could run out and enlisted no less than Graham Gouldman of 10CC, who just so happened to be a City fan, to come up with the music and words and have the squad at the time (the likes of Colin Bell, Mike Summerbee, Francis Lee etc) sing along and really get the crowd pumped up. Despite the "pah pah pah" trumpets in parts, the players do hold their own lyrically and for its time was up there with Leeds' anthem above as the first of the truly decent football songs (Arsenal's "Good Old Arsenal" from the year before being another). Even now it's still played at the end of a City game and it brings back memories of me being at Maine Road back in the day..