3for3’s Dan “The Mekon” discusses the weird and wonderful ways in which the music business has well and truly stuck its oar into the football world.
Many purists will tell you that, by and large, music in its normal form has no place in football. They’ll point to the abhorrent practice of playing music after a goal, Cliff Richard forgetting the words to the national anthem before an International game (actually happened) and Robbie Williams supporting Port Vale* before spitting on the floor and telling you ‘it’s no bloody good’. But music has played an integral part in the way that football has ingrained itself into our popular culture. Chelsea still run onto the hallowed (and ever-so-slightly frostbitten) turf at Stamford Fridge to the strains of Suggs’ 1997 FA Cup song Blue Day, Liverpool fans sing a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical number each and every week (usually nine or ten times a match), and not a soul old enough to remember it can think back to the summer of ’96 without silently singing the words ‘It’s Coming Home’ over and over again.
*tends to only be offensive to Stoke City fans.
But music has had more to offer football than just a throbbing movie score; so, so much more in fact. It’s ranged from the ridiculous to the sublime, gone both ways over the border and back again, been a part of football revolutions and even, God forbid, made footballers some money. So let’s pause the football for a second, sit back with our feet up and enjoy a musical interlude. Maestro?
5. So Solid Crew’s MC Harvey turns out for AFC Wimbledon
99 out of 100 people around football were delighted when AFC Wimbledon broke into the Football League last summer (the 100th person is a Kingstonian fan and is more than a little bit miffed). Although their current squad’s success in escaping their non-league roots and moving that tiny bit closer to a pair of epic hate-matches with MK Dons is to be lauded, we mustn’t forget too those who helped get the club moving, those players who grafted down in Kingston-upon-Thames (sound the irony alarm) to get AFC Wimbledon going. Legends like Marcus Gayle, Carlton Fairweather, Robbie Earle… and Michael Harvey aka MC Harvey from So Solid Crew. Say what you want about his music or his personal life (they’re both full of examples of poor decision-making) but the shifts he put in at full-back for the Dons (the proper ones) helped them fight their way from the very bottom of the football pyramid to… a little bit higher up the football pyramid. He left after a couple of seasons, had spells at Aldershot, Lewes and St Albans then retired from the game to focus on his work. And judging by how much I see him on TV or all the albums he’s released since, his decision making clearly hasn’t improved one iota.
4. Elton John buys Watford FC
Back in 1976, when Watford were truly rubbish rather than the general wafting mediocrity currently encountered at Vicarage Road, the club found itself in deep financial straits and sought out potential investors. Enter the club’s most famous supporter; the Sinner from Pinner himself, Mr. Reginald “Elton John” Dwight. He brought in a little glitz, a little glamour and Graham Taylor in the dugout (only one of which did the team any good) and the club reaped the kind of rewards befitting a club headed by one of the world’s biggest stars, such as First Division football (including a second place finish), an FA Cup Final and ownership of Luther Blissett and John Barnes. John (Elton John, not John Barnes) sold the club in 1987 after the departures of Taylor to Aston Villa, Barnes to Liverpool and Blissett to (inexplicably) AC Milan led to a downturn in fortunes, but he remained honorary life president and owned the club again for a period between 1997 and 2002. What makes this truly mental is that he also part-owned the LA Aztecs in NASL, meaning that not only is Elton on a Mandaric/Risdale-esque streak of owning not-very-good clubs, but that NASL truly was the most unnecessarily mystifying football league in history.
3. The Michael Jackson Statue
If you try to mentally picture the words ‘batshit mental’, Mohammed Al-Fayed will pop up about fifth or sixth in your mind’s eye; a bit like doing a Google Image Search for something innocuous like ‘footlong sub’. The man is a walking, talking caricature who, while requiring a certain level of commendation for the work he’s done as Fulham’s chairman, leaves all whom he encounters with big, big question marks over his sanity. The former Harrods owner cranked the ‘big sack o’weird-ometer’ up to 11 though when he unveiled his latest addition to the facilities at Craven Cottage: a full-colour statue of his recently-deceased friend, pop legend and ALLEGED paedophile Michael Jackson; a statue which can only be described as looking nothing like Michael Jackson. As you can well imagine, its arrival was met with a mixture of bewilderment and laughter, and opinion was divided between those who hated it and those who really hated it. Ever the certifiable loony, Al-Fayed defended his latest objet-d’art by stating that anyone who didn’t like it could “go to hell” or “go and support another club.” Reports of Fulham fans then converting in their droves to Millwall are unconfirmed.
2. History’s funniest and cleverest football chants
This is where football supporters are at their very, very best. If a popular song hits the charts (or has ever hit the charts) then it’s prime pickings for the terraces to substitute a player’s name in place of an integral lyric and sing it full-pelt from the North Bank. Whether it’s Prefab Sprout’s King of Rock and Roll (“Hot dog, jumping frog, Albert Luque,”) KC and the Sunshine Band’s Give it Up (“Na-na, na-na, na-na, na-na na na naaa, Jobi McAnuff, McAnuff, Jobi McAnuff,”) Dean Martin’s classic That’s Amore (“When the ball hits your head and you’re sat in row Z, that’s Zamora,”) or even something as simple as my personal favourite, the theme from Happy Days (“Sunday, Monday, Habib Beye, Tuesday, Wednesday, Habib Beye…”) football fans consistently prove themselves to be a knowledgeable, intelligent and above all funny bunch of people. Now, if only they didn’t then go on 606 or Talksport and expose themselves as massive idiots…
1. Chris Waddle & Glenn Hoddle – Diamond Lights
No words. Just this link –
INJURY TIME FACT
Middlesbrough, who were beaten by Chelsea in the afore-mentioned 1997 FA Cup Final, released a reworking of Chris Rea’s Let’s Dance featuring Boro fans Rea and Bob Mortimer. And people wonder why they lost.
Dan Shoesmith is the co-host of the 3for3 podcast, and host of the X-Calibre Rock Show on 1Radio. Follow him on Twitter @BigDan_83 and @3for3_