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Football Terrace Songs and Chants

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A football with musical notes on it

These are the songs as sung by football (or soccer) fans at stadia everywhere. Long gone are the days when those standing in the terraces would be encouraged to keep quiet so as not to make a fool of themselves.

What Makes a Good Football Song?

A good football song ought to be simple and rhythmic so as to be easily learned and sung by the masses. It's fairly safe to assume that most of the people in the crowd aren't classically trained tenors and volume is definitely much more important than tone. It is also important that the lyrics are not too complicated, as it really wouldn't do anyone any good if everyone had to stop halfway through the song to go and look up the words.

Football songs must also ascertain with utmost confidence that the team that is being chanted for is unbeatable and their opposition are among the most inept group of players to ever set foot on a pitch. Some might find it a little odd at first when they hear fans proclaim that Halifax Town are 'by far the greatest team the world has ever seen' when they are actuality languishing in the lower reaches of the third division, but this wilful delusion is commonplace within the world of football songs, and even the most literal minded supporter will soon grow used to it.

Examples of Football Songs

There are almost as many football chants around as there are people who sing them, so we shall restrict ourselves here to some of the more famous ones:

And it's Football Club Name
Football Club Name FC
They're by far the greatest team
The world has ever seen

This one speaks for itself. Football Team Name obviously changes depending on the club. Many and varied are the ways that the team names are contracted or mutilated in an attempt to fit into the required four syllables to fit the tune.

You're not singing
You're not singing
You're not singing any more
You're not singing any more

This one aptly demonstrates the simplicity of the football song. It is commonly sung when an equalising goal is scored, hence silencing the fans of the opposing team.

Who ate all the pies?
Who ate all the pies?
You fat b*****d, you fat b*****d
You ate all the pies

This one refers to the tradition of eating meat pies at football matches.

Beyond these there are a large number of traditional chants which are just a word or short phrase repeated indefinitely. Examples of these include 'The referee's a w****r', 'one-nil' (or whatever the current scores happen to be; clearly only sung by the supporters of the team currently in the lead), and 'In-ger-land In-ger-land In-ger-laaand' (sung at international games; it would seem that nobody has been kind enough to tell England fans the name of their country yet).

There are also many chants singing the praises of individual players. Again, these range from the simple to the very simple. At the most basic end of the spectrum is the simple repetition of the player's name over and over. While this may be good for the player's ego it is somewhat unimaginative.

The slightly more cerebral fan might also include a few 'ooh's and 'ah's into their chants, giving rise to such memorable gems as 'Ooh-ah Cantona' and 'Oh Stanley Stanley, Stanley Stanley Stanley Stanley Collymore' (singing the praises of Eric Cantona and Stan Collymore respectively). It is also common to hear fans shouting 'There's only one Player Name', and while a quick look through the electoral register would most probably prove them wrong in many cases, the point is well taken.

Exceptions to the Rule

There are, of course, a few songs sung at football matches that go against the traditional rules of extreme simplicity. Probably the most famous of these are You'll Never Walk Alone which is famously sung by the fans of Liverpool FC, and the hymn, Abide With Me which is famously sung before the start of the FA cup final.

Actions to Accompany Chanting

The repertoire of the experienced football fan goes far beyond mere shouting. Passed down from father to son (or, indeed, daughter) there are several other actions that can often be seen ritualistically accompanying the chanting. Rhythmic clapping is common, often forming part of the chant itself, as are the stamping of feet, pointing and mock-bowing down to a player. A somewhat rarer, but still definitely related activity is the playing of musical instruments from within the stands. This can range from beating a drum in place of clapping, to having a full blown band playing rehearsed pieces such as the theme music from The Great Escape.

More Obscure Chants

Most of the chants shown above are immortal, can be easily adapted to fit whatever purpose is required at the time, and will continue to be sung for a long time into the future. However, there are always some songs that will only ever be used for any one given player or situation. Many of these are filched - taking the tune and sometimes some of the words of one song and inventing new words - and some of these are real gems. The following was sung by Stockport County fans to taunt local rivals Manchester City as they plummeted down the leagues and is to the tune of Lord of the Dance.

Joe Royle1
Whatever you may do
You're going down to division two
You won't win a cup
You won't win a shield
Your next derby is Macclesfield

Whereas the following is regularly sung (to the tune of 'You Are My Sunshine') by Manchester United fans, in praise of their Norwegian striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer:

You are my Solskjaer
My Ole Solskjaer
You make me happy
When skies are grey
And Alan Shearer
Was f*****g dearer
So please don't take
My Solskjaer

And many, many more besides. Such songs are now a integral part of the game, and during a particularly dull match you can always rest assured that you can get some entertainment from trying to decipher the obscure chants being sung out of tune in whatever the local accent might happen to be.

1Then manager of Manchester City. Incidentally, at the time of writing, Manchester City, after having ascended to the Premiership, were sadly relegated yet again.

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