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Football chant

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Football chant

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Football chants are repetitive chants generated by the crowd at football (soccer) matches, particularly professional ones. Throughout Europe and Latin America it is considered normal for the supporters to spend much of their time shouting at the players, opposing spectators, the referee, or just the world in general. They are intended to encourage the supporters' team, insult the opposition, or just make a noise.

The chants themselves can vary enormously, from the simple and repetitive to the topical and complex, encompassing tradition and vulgarity. An example of simple, though proud chanting is the Brazilian chant, sung by the fans at World Cup matches: "Eu sou brasileiro, com muito orgulho, com muito amor" (I am Brazilian, with a lot of pride, with a lot of love). They frequently contain vulgar or antagonistic lyrics, in fact a lot of things shouted within football stadiums would not be acceptable in a number of situations outside of one, and as long as the chants are not used outside of football, it is tolerated. Most importantly, it should be said that they generally contribute to people's enjoyment of a game and its atmosphere, and are an integral part of football culture.

They are also known as a terrace chant - a terrace being the old standing areas in football grounds in the 1900's till around the 90's in top flight football. Terraces are still used in lower league football where crowds and stands are smaller.


Common chants

One of the world-know football chants is "Olé, Olé". The word is a expression in the tauromachy after the bullfighter engaging the bull with a capote like a expression of approve by the public who attend this spectacle. The chant is most-popular in Europe, especcially in Spain and France and Italy also in Latin America like form of the fan of the local football team fan to support them.

Also this word is like a cheers by the fans when the local team is winning and make precising ball passes between the team members.

The simplest chant is just the name of the team shouted over and over again, often with clapping in the gap; e.g. "Tottenham" (clap clap clap); "Tottenham" (clap clap clap). Chants being nothing if not competitive, opposing supporters may respond by shouting an insulting word in the gap, most commonly used is shit.

A variation upon this clapping is: "clap clap, clap clap clap, clap clap clap clap, clap clap". The most famous instances of this rhythm were firstly, during the late 1990s when AAPT Smartchat released a successful Australian advertising campaign - "A, A, A A P, A A P T, Smart chat!". The rhythm can also be heard at the beginning of the Hoodoo Gurus song "Wipeout (Like Wow)".

The next simplest chant, used when your team is ahead, is just the score repeated, e.g. "two nil; two nil", particularly if one of the teams has scored recently, sung to a tune approximating "Amazing Grace".

Chants can also support particular players. A common one is "One David Beckham! There's only one David Beckham" (or whoever). When an England international squad included two players both called Gary Stevens the chant became "Two Gary Stevens! There's only two Gary Stevens"; conversely, during the late 1990s Arsenal played host to the chant "Two Ian Wrights! There's only two Ian Wrights", in reference to their new signing Luis Boa Morte who bore a striking resemblance to Wright. When Andy Goram was diagnosed as schizophrenic, opposing fans chanted "Two Andy Gorams! There's only two Andy Gorams". This is an example of the commonplace confusion between Schizophrenia and Dissociative identity disorder. In Australian rules football, the song "One Tony Lockett" was created, referring to the legendary status of the AFL's leading goalkicker of all time - "There's only one Tony Lockett!".

All of the above are sung to the tune "Guantanamera", as are "Sing when you're winning, you only sing when you're winning" (the variant "You don't even sing when you're winning" has been heard at Manchester United), and (when an easy shot or a penalty is missed) "Score in a brothel, you couldn't score in a brothel". The tune "Blue Moon" is used for the chant "Twelve men, you've only got twelve men" (when the referee is perceived to be biased to one team - acting as their 12th man). Most chants can be adapted to the name of almost any player.

The Gap Band's "Oops Upside Your Head" was adapted by Glasgow Celtic's more hardline supporters as "Ooh! Aah! Up the 'RA! Say ooh ah up the 'RA!", where 'RA is an affectionate term for the IRA. This was adapted by Republic of Ireland fans into "Ooh! Aah! Paul McGrath!" (the "th" in McGrath being silent) and then by Leeds United fans as "Ooh! Aah! Cantona!". Just as famously it has been adapted in Australian cricket, with fast bowler Glenn McGrath the subject of the "Ooh! Aah! Glenn McGrath" chant.

The Duran Duran song "Rio" was adapted in several ways for Rio Ferdinand; in fact in 2002, fan Simon Le Bon (Duran Duran's lead singer) promised to re-record one of the football chants if the team won.

The song "Go West" by the Village People provides the melody for the common chant "You're shit, and you know you are" and many, many others, including more specialised chants such as "One nil, to the Arsenal" (which popularised the usage of "Go West" in English football), "Go West Bromwich Albion" and "Posh Spice takes it up the arse", made famous when Victoria Beckham mentioned it in her autobiography as an example of the less-than-warm welcome shown to her by fans of her new husband's team, Manchester United.

Another melody for chants is that of the hymn Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer which goes "Bread of heaven, bread of heaven, feed me now and ever more! Feed me now and ever more". The most famous incarnation of this is "You're not singing, you're not singing, you're not singing any more! You're not singing any more!" sung when the opposition's supporters have stopped chanting as a result of conceding a goal.

A large proportion of chants have the same tune as hymns, because hymns were traditionally sung before the start of all football matches in the late 19th and early 20th century. The hymn Abide With Me is still sung before the FA Cup Final every year. Very few chants are adapted from popular pop music, Go West and Winter Wonderland being notable exceptions.

A somewhat sinister riposte to Manchester United supporters' song, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life which they customarily used to sing when leading to taunt their opposition is to be found in a song sung to the same tune Always Look on the Runway for Ice, a reference to the tragic Munich air disaster of February 6, 1958, in which 23 of the 43 people on board died, 8 of them Man United players. This has been countered in recent years, such as against Leeds United, when the song Always Watch Out For A Turk With A Knife which is a reference to the two Leeds supporters who were fatally stabbed whilst in Turkey for a Champions League match.

In the Australian A-League competition, the Melbourne Victory fans are known for their famous "Kitzbichler" chant. It is directed towards the exciting Austrian midfielder Richard Kitzbichler, and is sung to the tune of "Tequila", with the entire crowd singing the tune "do do do do do do, do do", then shouting "KITZBICHLER!".

Further examples include:

  • "Who's the bastard in the black?" (meaning the referee. There are some variations to this, such as Celtic's "Who's the Mason in the black?")
  • "Can we play you every week?" (a particular favourite among supporters in the Isles of Scilly League which has only two teams and who play each other 20 times or so during the course of a season)
  • "Are you X in disguise?" (where X is a weak or a rival team)
  • "You're supposed to be at home" (when the away team supporters are being more vocal in their support than those of the home team) as well as the obverse of this coin, "You should have come in a taxi" sung when the away supporters are few in numbers.
  • "My garden shed" (used by away supporters to insult the size of the host ground - My garden shed/Is bigger than this/My garden shed/Is bigger than this/It's got a door and a window/My garden shed/Is bigger than this). Conversely, a poor side playing in an attractive stadium may be greeted by the simpler chant of "Nice ground, shit team", to the tune of the Pompey Chimes.
  • "<Insert name here>'s a wanker!" (notably an Australian chant, used to degrade anyone on the field)
  • "<Insert name here> walks on water! Tra la la la la la la!" (used whenever a sportsman completes an amazing deed, for example, Stephen Milne's 11 goal haul in Round 22, 2005)
  • "Stand up, if you hate <insert name here>." This can refer to a person or a team, and would be accompanied, of course, with the singing fans standing.

Some football teams also have songs which are traditionally sung by their supporters. Probably the most famous of these are Liverpool's and Celtic's (or Rodgers and Hammerstein's) "You'll Never Walk Alone" and West Ham's (or Jaan Kenbrovin and John Kellette's) "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles". Inevitably, these have become targets for parody by opposition fans; "You'll Never Walk Alone" has been adapted to "You'll Never Get A Job", a reference to the high unemployment in Liverpool during the early 1980s.

Some chants form part of protest by the fans against the management of the club, usually if the majority of fans believe the manager should be sacked. Some chants might be a protest to the chairman not to sell a star player.

Another chant is "Who ate all the pies?", to the tune of Knees Up Mother Brown, which is aimed at a supposedly overweight player or official. During the 1990s, opposition fans at Nottingham Forest games began singing "He's got a pineapple on his head" to the tune of "He's got the whole world in his hands" to Jason Lee because of his somewhat unorthodox hair cut. The chant became famous when featured on David Baddiel and Frank Skinner's Fantasy Football League.

Very often chants are abuse directed at an opposition player, particularly if an incident has happened that has irritated fans of the other team, for example if the player has appeared to have cheated to get a penalty kick. Abuse is also commonly directed at match officials, usually only the referee after a controversial decision has been made. Common variations include "You don't know what you're doing", "You're not fit to referee", "Shit refs, we only get shit refs", with "The referee's a wanker!" probably the most popular.

It is believed that one of the earliest chants was written by Edward Elgar (a fan of Wolverhampton Wanderers). Elgar set the words "He banged the leather for goal!" to music in praise of Wolves player Billy Malpas. Elgar reused the tune in his oratorio Caractacus. It is not thought that his chant was widely used on the terraces.

Songs associated with football teams

Note: ALL Brazilian football teams have official anthems associated to them.

Aberdeen F.C - "Stand Free"
FC Bayern Munich - "Stern des Südens" (Star of the South), "So sehen Sieger aus" (That's What Winners Look Like)
Birmingham City F.C. - "Keep Right On"
Brentford F.C. - "Hey Jude"
Brighton and Hove Albion F.C. - "Sussex By The Sea"
Bristol Rovers F.C. - "Goodnight Irene"
Burnley F.C. - "No Nay Never" (to the tune of The Wild Rover)
Celtic F.C. - "The Celtic Song", "You'll Never Walk Alone","The Fields of Athenry","The Willie Maley Song", "Over and Over"
Chelsea F.C. - "Blue is the Colour"
Chicago Fire - "Don´t Stop Living in the Red"
Coventry City F.C. - "Eton Boating Song" Twist and Shout"
Crystal Palace F.C. - "Glad All Over"
Derby County F.C - "Steve Bloomer's Watchin'"
Eintracht Frankfurt - "Im Herzen von Europa" (In the heart of Europe)
Everton F.C - "Z-Cars"
Feyenoord Rotterdam - "I Will Survive"
Fulham F.C. - "There's only one F in Fulham"
Heart of Midlothian F.C. - "European Song" (to the tune of My Way)
Hibernian F.C. - "Sunshine over Leith" (by The Proclaimers)
Huddersfield Town A.F.C. - "Smile A While" and "Those Were The Days" (to the tune of the Mary Hopkin song of the same name)
Ipswich Town F.C. - Singing The Blues
Leeds United F.C. - "Marching On Together"
Liverpool F.C. - "You'll Never Walk Alone" (also sung often by Celtic F.C. and Feyenoord fans)
Manchester City F.C. - "Blue Moon" (originally and still sung by Crewe Alexandra F.C. fans)
Manchester United F.C. - United road ( country road)
Millwall F.C. - "No One Likes Us - We Don't Care." (To the tune of Sailing) "Let 'em Come." - Official Club Song.
Newcastle United F.C. - "Blaydon Races"
Norwich City F.C. - "On the Ball, City" (Oldest known football song in the world)
Nottingham Forest F.C. - "You've Lost That Loving Feeling"
Notts County F.C. - "The Wheelbarrow Song"
Plymouth Argyle F.C.-"Semper Fidelis"
Preston North End F.C.-"Can't Help Falling In Love"
Rangers F.C. - "Billy Boys" (to the tune of Marching Through Georgia) "God Save The Queen" (A reference to Rangers largely Protestant, loyalist fans base)
Reading F.C.-"Sweet Caroline"
Sheffield United F.C. - The Greasy Chip Butty Song
Southampton F.C. - "When the Saints Come Marching In"
Spartak Moscow - "I vragu nikogda ne dobit'sya" (Our Enemy Shall Never Achieve It)
Stoke City F.C. - "Delilah"
Sunderland A.F.C. - "Can't Help Falling In Love"
West Bromwich Albion F.C. - "The Lord's my sheperd" (Psalm 23)
West Ham United F.C. - "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles"
Wolverhamtpon Wanderers F.C. - "Theme from Emmerdale"

Chant Laureate

On 11 May 2004, Jonny Hurst was chosen as England's first 'Chant Laureate'

Barclaycard set up the competition to choose a Chant Laureate, to be paid £10,000 to tour Premiership stadiums and compose chants for the 2004-5 football season. The judging panel was chaired by the Poet Laureate Andrew Motion, who said "What we felt we were tapping into was a huge reservoir of folk poetry."

External links

Home | Up | Football chant | Psalms | Ambrosian chant | Anglican chant | Armenian chant | Beneventan chant | Buddhist chant | Gallican chant | Gregorian chant | Mozarabic chant | Qur'an reading

Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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