Archive for the ‘Footy and music’ Category

SOME TIME ago (August 2009 to be precise) I wrote an article about the rich connection between football and music for this blog.P1060939

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.

P1060940Lyrics are kept to the minimum here and I was left with the mind-numbing near-religious chant of ‘Kiwis, All Whites/ Kiwis, All Whites’ rattling around in my head for the rest of the week.

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.



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Words 2The fanzine is dead: long live the fanzine.

As a former fanzine editor I find it almost eerie that the self-produced, stapled-together publication, written with more love than skill, is largely passing into the anals of history, a footnote in the history of the counter-culture.

You can blame the electronic era, but, actually, we need to celebrate it because it’s the saviour of anyone with a few words to say.

From the mid-1980s to the late 1990s, I was avidly collecting zines, which would vary from 12-page dedications to Aztec Camera, to bulky, generic zines on indie music, most of them coming in the handy A5 format. The fun was in discovering these gems in the classified ad sections of the music mags, or in other zines. I would write a cheque (or postal order), enclose a stamped addressed envelope and about six weeks later it would pop through the letterbox.

There weren’t all good but most zines were written with enthusiasm, a knowledge of the subject and delivered in a readable manner. I still have several copies of a wonderful publication called Pure Joy, a paen to Julian Cope that had incisive and well-researched articles, good quality photographs and was brilliantly laid out. I also recall being impressed by a ska zine called Zoot; Shy Like Me, the only issue of which I ever saw contained THREE flexi-disks, and a wonderful zine all about fey English pop with with every page in flourescent green and oranges (I forget the title).

There was also a proliferation of football fanzines, established by diehard fans fed up with the club’s official mouthpieces and the media in general and sold outside the ground on match days. There are too many fantastic examples of club zines, but I have to single out a Celtic FC rag called Not The View, born out of the frustration of fans towards the awful pro-board mag The Celtic View, also known as Pravda. It’s still going (issue 177 just out) and looks as good as it ever did, though I don’t know what sales would be in comparison to its heyday.

NTVThese were labour of loves, cheap gifts (often the postage was more than the publication) from dedicated writers with more enthusiasm than sense.

I was one of them, producing from 1995 to 1998 five rags and contributing to a few others. One had Kenny Dalglish on the cover but had nothing to do with football; another was about a band called The House of Love, and the other two, Words Fail Me and Monkey With A Typewriter, included interviews with the likes of Travis (one of their first) and the Wedding Present, and went off on tangents about Scottish third division football and an American street novelist called Iceberg Slim. It took forever to arrange and conduct interviews, write the articles, sub it, lay out the pages, take it to the printer then try to sell the thing, which by that stage you just wanted to stick in a bin. Essentially, they were fun.


Every town in Tory Britain had at least one zine written on a typewriter or a second-hand PC, featuring bands who may well have split up by the time of publication.

I came across a great wee zine recently, called Ice Cream For Quo, free if postage included, which has pieces headlined Some fanzines I’ve written for, Some famous people I’ve seen and The Day I Met Kylie Minogue.

In New Zealand, where I now live, I found in a internet/ anarchist bookshop, now gone sadly, a zine devoted to the Auckland punk scene called Panik! that came out in 2005 and had some great pics and articles on North Island punk bands. That, alas, was the only issue but it showed that the art of the zine isn’t dead (unlike punk). The shop also had a mag about Christian Anarchism (surely an oxymoron) and a vegan zine featuring Maria Sharapova on the cover.

But the art of the printed publication is largely dying, as the numbers of printed zines have fallen considerably over the past decade or so and the outlets have narrowed.

The reason for this is the electronic age, which reduces costs and the laborious task of distributing the hard copy.

Sniffin glueHowever, the fanzine is enjoying a revival; it’s had to change format. The internet has created an army of people with a lot to get off their chest. Once there was a handful of printed zines dedicated to Morrissey, now he’s got hundreds of webzines singing his praises. Picture quality has improved, the material can be issued immediately and feedback can be left on forums. This is indeed a golden age for people with something to say. And, of course, I have my own cyber space. What you are reading now is basically a fanzine. Without the staples.

My city centre library has a small section dedicated to printed fanzines, and the wonderful staff there categorise each one as per their objective – music, personal, comics, art, general etc. Clearly, there’s an interest in zines, or at the very least the library feels a duty to stock examples of them.

On the right of this page are links to various websites and blogs and within these are links to hundreds, if not thousands more. That shows people still want to write about things they love.

If anyone is producing a printed zine, please send to PO Box 10904, The Terrace, Wellington 6143, NZ and I will review it. All links to webzines are also gratefully received.

somemightsayCity GentSlacker zine

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George Best



Football and music, three words that evoke memories of players singing out of tune and Chas and Dave being dug up ahead of a Spurs appearance in the FA Cup final. Or England Back Home, the dismal Baddiel and Skinner … the list of cultural criminality goes on and on.

Music has often used football for its ill-gotten gains and, on the other side of the coin, the sport has gotten a piggy back from the industry to promote a forthcoming tournament or boost the bank balance of a striker.

Highlights of this meeting of unlikely bedfellows have been few but New Order’s World in Motion is probably the best example of this form of the football song.

However, Porky has been snorting about and discovered the beautiful game and the beautiful sound have often mingled coherently in a lovestruck relationship.

The basis for this discovery was an album by The Barmy Army called the English Disease. Released in 1989, it sounds a little dated now, especially with tracks such as England 2, Yugoslavia 0 and a protest song against a plan in the UK to issue all football hooligans, as the then Conservative Government viewed all fans, with ID cards.

Barmy ArmyThe Barmy Army cut and paste interviews and match commentary, using them ad nauseum; expressing their love of West Ham Utd with snippets of the Hammers theme tune I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles, and songs dedicated to Alan Devonshire and Billy Bonds. On a hit-and-miss (the goalpost) album, the strongest moment is Sharp As a Needle, featuring the Anfield Kop in fine voice, a track beloved by the legendary, yet extraordinarily tedious, DJ, John Peel.

Barmy Army’s experimental dub-football crossover came at a time when indie bands in Britain found inspiration from a game which was, at the time, maligned by hooliganism and stadium disasters.
In 1987, burgeoning Yorkshire indie-wonders, The Wedding Present, looked at the sport’s glorious past, to name their debut album George Best, adorned with a picture of the Northern Irish maestro at his peak.

I, Ludicrous, graduates of The Fall school of witticism, spewed an imponderable number of football-related songs: Quite Extraordinary (piss-take of commentator/ buffoon David Coleman), and We Stand Around (about hardcore fans braving all the elements and bad players).

During this period of rampant hooliganism, one man stood up to fight the good fight, and lead the charge to rid England of the menace of the “English Disease” once and for all. Unfortunately, that man was Colin Moynihan, a short-arsed little bastard who, somehow, was appointed Minister of Sport.

The Conservative regime seemed to regard the role as no greater than the leader of a community council, and so Moynihan became the champion of British sports. I, Ludicrous penned Moynihan Brings Out The Hooligan In Me, on account of his ignorance of the game and the small matter of this bastion of the sporting spirit, running onto (invading?) the pitch when the Great Britain hockey team won gold at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul. Just like a good hooligan would.

Forget that English teams were banned from European club competition on account of their naughty fans, this was when indie music fell in love with football, precisely because of its bad-boy image.

It was a time when The Housemartins named an album, Hull 4, London 0; Tackhead wrote about The Game, sampling commentator Brian Moore; and the Proclaimers reminded the world of Scotland’s love of the game with songs about Hibernian FC (Sunshine on Leith and The Joyful Kilmarnock Blues). Hell, I’ve even got a flexi disk, by an obscure Northern Irish band with a song called The Cross, that came with a Coleraine FC fanzine.

More recently, Britain’s favourite lefty, Billy Bragg, a renowned footy fan, even though he’s from Essex, issued songs such as God’s Footballer and The Few, the latter describing hooligan firms like the Inter City Crew, who were fully aware that any rampage would never be ignored: “These little John Bullshits know that the press will glorify their feats”.

Bragg famously sang, on a song called Sexuality of all things, that he had, ” an Billy Bragguncle who once played, for Red Star Belgrade.”

Ah, yes, Eastern European soccer, the true cult of the sport. And is that a Half Man Half Biscuit song I hear, perhaps I Was A Teenage Armchair Honved Fan, in recognition of Hungarian football, and subbuteo (a game also referenced by The Undertones in My Perfect Cousin: “He flicked to kick, and I didn’t know”), or demanding a Dukla Prague away kit for Christmas.

Recently, football, despite it’s invasive worldwide profile, hasn’t crossed over into music to the same extent, outwith the flurry of piss-poor singles issued in time for the start of a major tournament, using Sham 69 hits and odious comedians.

My own favourite football-related song, even if the core subject is writer Christy Brown, is the Pogues’ Down All the Days, for the line, “And I’ve never been asked, and I’ve never replied, have I supported the Glasgow Rangers,” which can mean many things to many people.

Or there’s the Suppery Furry Animals’ The Man Don’t Give A Fuck, an expletive-ridden tale of eccentric Cardiff City player Robin Friday; the Sultans of Pings’ Give Him a Ball and a Yard of Grass (“If God meant the game to be played up there, He would’ve put goalposts in the air.”; an unofficial Scottish 1998 World Cup team-up featuring the divine talents of Primal Scream and Irvine Welsh; tracks entitled Stan Bowles (The Others) and Tony Adams (Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros), although the references to those legends are fairly humdrum while Morrissey put Terry Venables on the cover of 1995’s Dagenham Dave.

And just to prove referencing football in song is not a new fad, Gracie Fields recorded Pass, Shoot, Goal in 1931. Fields was apparently a big Rochdale FC fan and even helped them out financially in rough times. Way before Elton John passed upon Watford FC.

I haven’t covered everything, how can I, and there are club/band team-ups that are actually quite good, notably Shane MacGowan and Simple Minds appearing on a charity EP, in tribute to Celtic legend Jimmy Johnstone, plenty of songs by Serious Drinking, or more from I, Ludicrous and Half Man Half Biscuit, and an obscure indie trio from Norwich who issued one single in 1991 and who’s name I haven’t made up yet, blah blah blah, but you get the bloody point.

There’s an old Scottish football song, the original dating from 1885, of which I will reprint the opening verse and chorus:

“You all know my big brither Jock

Miss-hit: Hoddle and Waddle

Miss-hit: Hoddle and Waddle

His right name’s Johnny Shaw.

Last week he jined a fitba’ club
For he’s mad about fitba’.
He’s got two black eyes already,
An’ teeth oot by the root,
Since Jock’s face came in contact
Wi another fella’s boot.

‘Cause he’s fitba’ crazy,
He’s fitba’ mad.
The fitba it has ta’en away
The wee bit sense he had.
And it wid take a dozen servants
His claes tae wash and scrub,
Since Jock became a member o’
That terrible fitba’ club”

Now, please add your own memories …

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