It wasn’t about the World Cup and FA Cup finals theme tunes featuring caterwauling players and guest appearances by the likes of Chas’n’Dave and New Order. It did highlight, however, how dance and indie acts have embraced the sport, and shown that such team-ups need not always result in clichés and bad singing. (see here, https://craighaggis.wordpress.com/2009/08/04/the-sound-of-the-beautiful-game/).
Still, I couldn’t resist buying The Official New Zealand Team Record for the 1982 World Cup finals in Spain when I spotted it in Slow Boat records. It isn’t something you see every day after all, in Wellington or Valencia. The guest appearance was supplied by Ray Woolf, a tuxedo-wearing showman with a beaming smile. And there he is on the cover with a beard that may now only be considered overgrown stubble, and a smile wider than the goalposts in Saudi Arabia.
Side one (as opposed to the A-side?) features Heading For The Top, written by Carl Doy, better known for his work with Kiri Te Kanawa. Shockerooonie, but this is an actual song, with Woolf doing his typical showman routine, and the warbling voices of the squad diluted/ mutated. Gosh, but it sounds like it could be from a musical.
While this track focuses on the team “playing the game the best we can to reach our final goal”, its companion, Marching On To Spain, shows a little more ambition. It was written by Vince Harris, and Google isn’t being quite so helpful regarding this chap. Marching On … doesn’t include Woolf, and features the immortal lines “we score goals, goals, goals and we’ll score some more again.”
They were certainly right about the first part as they stuck 13 past Fiji and five against Saudi Arabia, but on the second, well, they only netted twice in Spain, both against a Scottish side 3-0 up and already thinking about their post-match cans of Tennants Super Brew.
The 1982 All Whites World Cup qualifying campaign was one of the most memorable in history, and briefly relegated the All Backs to the inside back pages, as the Kiwis (population then three million, give or take a couple of thousand either way) battled through 15 qualifying matches, from the South Pacific to the Middle East, seeing off China (population one billion, give or take a hundred million or so) in a dramatic play-off in neutral Singapore.
That they did so with journeyman Brits and Irishmen and local lads playing in a part-time national league, and turfed out the Aussies on the way, made it all the more remarkable. Alas, Spain was a step too far as they got cuffed by the Brazilians and the USSR and after losing 5-2 to the tournament favourites Scotland. It would take 28 years for Ricki Herbert to lead the All Whites to another World Cup finals. And no, I don’t think they recorded a World Cup single.