The Tears of a Clown

Now if there's a smile upon my face…

Nice One Cyril

Recognise that song title? Some of the more mature amongst us certainly will. It’s one of those silly tunes that’s been in the back of your head for over thirty years now. Don’t worry, you’re not alone and you can get help. It’s called the plague of the football song.

The chirpy ode to former Tottenham Hotspurs’ stalwart Cyril Knowles is hardly alone in the cringe stakes, we all know of a whole catalogue of bad football songs, indeed there are very few ‘good’ ones.

It’s important that we establish a distinction here straight away as the author enjoys nothing better than a rousing good chorus of’ Glory Glory To The Hibees’ at the appropriate time, (i.e., in the day or at night, but no it’s not the joyous coming together of a group of like minded supporters I talk of here, but rather the sad collection of dubious collaborations between groups of highly paid professional footballers and oft ‘celebrity’ fans to record a platter for the general consumption.

They’re all flooding back now aren’t they? I’m sorry…I really couldn’t help myself.

Perhaps the first football song that I ever heard as a youngster still makes me want to kill myself. The song was called ‘World Cup Willie’ and celebrated the English mascot when England won the World Cup by accident. Willie was kind of lion in football shorts and used to prance about on the pitch rather like the idiotic jig that Nobby Stiles did after the ’66 final. I’m not bitter honestly.

World Cup Willie, the

1966 World Cup mascot

To be fair England’s follow-up song for the wonderful 1970’s World Cup Finals in Mexico was a good effort. ‘Back Home’ whilst suffering from the lack of vocal dexterity by the England squad was a cheery enough ditty and a catchy song with stickability. A shame for England that Peter Bonetti in the England goal didn’t have that last quality. Gordon Banks’ shirt on a coat hanger would have been more use during those finals.

Another that sticks in the mind (if not the craw – dictionary definition: to cause one to feel abiding discontent and resentment) was the Leeds United song.

“And we play all the way for Leeds United

Elland Road is the only place for us
With heart and soul for the goal that’s clearly sighted

We’re out to toast each other from that silver cup”

Sung in a deep Yorkshire accent, ‘Leeds Yew-nah-ted’ this always mystified me as most of their best players were Scottish.

Causing less chagrin by far was a song by a Mr. Don Fardon. It was entitled ‘Belfast Boy’ and no prizes for guessing it was about George Best in the days when he was slumming it, winning the European Cup and the European Player of the Year award at Manchester United before his fledgling career really took off at Hibs. The song which was recorded especially for a TV documentary about George reached number 32 in the charts and some of the lyrics included this gem:

“You won’t have long in the limelight; no you won’t have many days.

What did Don Fardon know that Hibs chairman Tom Hart didn’t? Answers on a twenty pound note please.

“If I can just get past these next
four defenders Mather’s Bar will be
open soon”.

One football song that I found truly despicable was the Baddiel and Skinner effort with the Lightening Seeds, ‘Three Lions’. To hear Baddiel’s “voice” groaning on about “thirty years of hurt” turned my stomach and still does if I have the misfortune of hearing it. What on earth was Ian Broudie of the Seeds thinking of getting caught up in that one? From a similar era the Fat Les ditty ‘Vindaloo’ was a blight on the career of that fine actor, Keith Allen. It certainly owned the full stereophonic/moronic sound required for full sales of this type of song however.

I cannot finish the piece without mentioning an effort made for the Scottish national team and Rod Stewart’s wallet though. Ole Ola by Rod was an absolute corker of the genus. Witness these lyrics, Lennon and McCartney eat your heart out.

“When the blue shirts run out in Argentina

Our hearts will be beating like a drum

And your nerves are so shattered you can’t take it
Automatically you reach out for the rum.

And the chorus which stretched poetic license within an inch of its life:

“Ole ola, Ole ola

We’re gonna bring that World Cup back from over there”

I recall in the first week of the Argentina ’78 World Cup there was a violent gunshot incident in a bar that Stewarty was in where Rod had to hide under the table. The press at the time blamed it on a robbery if I recall, but those of who had heard Ole Ola knew the real reason.

Rod in rather effete
looking clothing for once.

I’m not going to punish you any further with this stuff. I’ll just add the closing talkover words by Brian Clough at the end of Nottingham Forest’s completely mundane yet not inappropriate title ‘We’ve got the whole world in our hands’ from the late seventies – a 45 RPM single I bought for 10p recently but which all of my Forest-supporting friends have kindly refused to take as a gift.

‘Follow that, Yarwood…!’

I’m not going to punish you any further with this stuff. I’ll just add the closing talkover words by Brian Clough at the end of Nottingham Forest’s completely mundane yet not inappropriate title ‘We’ve got the whole world in our hands’ from the late seventies – a 45 rpm single I bought for 10p recently but which all of my Forest-supporting friends have kindly refused to take as a gift.

‘Follow that, Yarwood…!’

September 3, 2007 - Posted by | Sporting Tales

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