“I may be ochre, I want to go home”

by Jack Howes

2012 has been a great year for football. There was Sergio Aguero winning the title in the most dramatic finish to a season known to man and Spain winning Euro 2012 by being footballing prog rockers with its beautiful yet pretentious, bloated, self-important style of football. Not forgetting Chelsea winning the Champions League by stealing Alex McLeish’s tactical master plan of having everyone, from the centre forward to the coach driver, behind the ball, defending for their lives to try and beat technically superior outfits. And credit to them – they won.

There was also Liverpool single-handedly proving satire is not dead in modern football with its award winning production How to Flush £120m Down The Toilet, Papiss Cisse showing his inner Le Tissier by scoring a number of amazing goals that people would struggle recreate playing FIFA on an Xbox, Tottenham collapsing like Saddam Hussein’s statue and even Edgar Davids playing for the mighty Barnet.

But football this year won’t be remembered for those things. It will be remembered for the ubiquity with which the song Sloop John B (known affectionately now as Sloop John ‘Clucking’ B by irritated people across the land) has been heard at matches.

There is a silly amount of nostalgia about the days when terraces were supposedly original with their singing and chanting, because ‘Charlie George, superstar, walks like a woman and he wears a bra’ is of course a chant so clever it makes Oscar Wilde seem as witty as the average caller on Talksport. But we’ve reached the point where the sound of cute puppies being hacked to death by dog killing mafia men is preferable to hearing away fans chant ‘I wanna go home, I wanna go hooooooooome’ at opposition grounds.

We’ve also reached the point where sane football folk are on the verge of contracting Sloop John B Tinnitus. The few chants that have a different tune are becoming pain relief for the massive doses of Sloop John B you’re putting up with. There have even been reports of football fans and people on a night out, on trains and buses chanting such things as ‘he’ll drink what he wants, he’ll drink what he waaaaaaants…’.

In the same way that banter needs to be given a good hiding, chanting to Sloop John B deserves to be given a clip round the ear and locked in the largest, darkest cupboard anyone can find.

Like Hallelujah when it was performed by an X Factor contestant/Simon Cowell drone in an attempt to be Christmas No.1, Sloop John B is a great song now ruined by over exposure. As Hallelujah was destined to subsequently be played at cheesy funerals, Sloop John B will now be played at the weddings of tattooed, red faces, football supporting males and not be the Beach Boys classic it should be.

Sloop John B is a song that has existed in one form or another since the 1920’s. The full list of people involved in the writing and performing of it is: Richard Le Galliene, Carl Sandberg, Alan Lomax, The Weavers, The Kingston Trio, Johnny Cash, Jimmie Rodgers, The Beach Boys, Rainy Day, Ulfuls, Joseph Spence, Tom Fogerty, Roger Whittaker, Jerry Jeff Walker, Dick Dale, Catch 22, The Ventures, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, Relient K, Dan Zanes, Okkervil River, David Thomas, Barry McGuire, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, Tom McRae, Lonnie Donegan, Cornelis Vreeswijk and Ann-Louise Hansson, Voltaire, Simple Minds.

To give the award to so many people would have been unprecedented. To give it to people who’ve never played football would also be unprecedented, though probably still would have provided a more accurate list than The Guardian’s list of the Best 100 Players in the World. 1960’s surf musician Dick Dale has probably done more in football than Emmanuel Mayuka (ranked 85th) has.

But there’s one person who’s responsible for Sloop John B being adopted by fans, for bringing the song to a mass audience. That one man, who sang the song on the pitch at the KC Stadium after his side relied upon their relegation rivals saddling themselves with Alan Shearer as manager to stay in the Premier League for another season.

That man is ex Derby, Hull and Preston manager Phil Brown. He may have a silly tan, have ruined the greatest season in his club’s history by giving them a half time team talk on the pitch and not know what ‘homophobic’ means. But by far his worst deed is singing Sloop John B on the pitch after his team’s last game of the 2008-2009 season. While this in itself is a harmless, understandable act in the midst of an emotional escape from relegation, its consequences have been disastrous.

For spreading the use of Sloop John B all those years ago, Phil Brown, ahead of the likes of Messi, Ronaldo, Xavi, Iniesta, Van Persie and others, is the winner of the Football Person of 2012 Award.