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One singer, one song - but can you name the tune?

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Jim Spence | 15:35 UK time, Friday, 21 May 2010

What's your favourite football club anthem and why is it sung anyway?

Last Saturday's Scottish Cup final got me thinking about this.

'Love is in the Air' and 'Beautiful Sunday' both belted out at Hampden by Dundee United fans are now firmly part of the mood music at Tannadice and they capture the club and fans perfectly in my humble opinion.

fans_singing_blog.jpgBut why do songs by John Paul Young and Daniel Boone stir the hearts of one half of the city and not the other?

And why did the Arabs start singing them in the first place?

'Sunshine on Leith' is the highly emotional backdrop to any Easter Road shindig, and given The Proclaimers love of the Hibs and the Leith connection it's an obvious battle hymn for the Hibees.

Yet over in Gorgie, neighbours Hearts appear to be more traditionalist sticking with the rousing 'Hearts Hearts Glorious Hearts', which is thunderously emotional when belted out from a full Tynecastle, but perhaps in need of updating.

So why has the choir at Tynie not come up with something for the modern age?

'Paper Roses' was being given laldy by Kilmarnock fans last time I was at Rugby Park, while of course south of the border Liverpool's 'You'll never walk alone' and West Ham's 'Blowing Bubbles' are indelibly linked with those two clubs.

Yet some clubs appear to have no anthem at all - not even an old traditional number.

So is it just that some clubs have fans who are simply more fun loving and inventive than others?

And if so why are the fans of some clubs more outgoing and tuneful than their rivals?

Is there a deep hidden sociological meaning to it all, or are the punters on the terracings at Tannadice, Easter Road and Rugby Park just that bit more hip than those in the rest of the country?

Answers on a singing postcard please...


  • Comment number 1.

    All fans have chants but only some of those come from songs as you stated in the piece Jim. Possibly fans making up their own chants are more inventive that other that simply decide to sing the words of their favourite song. - English Footballers Abroad

  • Comment number 2.

    Stirling Albion fans have sung "beautiful Sunday" for many years, Dundee United fans copied that of us!!

  • Comment number 3.

    Hi Jim, I believe Beautiful Sunday was first sung at Tynecastle after we beat Hearts (on a beautiful Sunday) at Tynecastle for the first time in 10 years, 1995ish? I could be wrong though. I think Love Is In The Air was first sung after the 1994 cup win, for obvious reasons. I wonder who started it though?? Both songs are now synonymous with Arabs and firmly rooted in United's culture now. Great songs to have in my book. My personal favourites though are the anti-sheep anthem, 'I Cant Read I Cant Write' and 'Fly Over Dens'.

    It's all to with the culture, heritage and history of the club where most songs originate. That's why clubs like St Johnstone, Livvy and Gretna have/had a dull support, they have nothing to shout about, no history or heritage. I was also disappointed with the Ross County fans lack of noise at the final considering there were 15000 of them. All I heard was the occasional, clap clap clap clap County...' Don't they have any songs??

    As for Killie, come on Jim, you could hear a pin drop most days at Rugby Park, I've only ever heard their fans droning the sleep inducing anthem, 'Killlllllie' zzzz

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    Three Little Birds by Bob Marley is, bizarrely enough, very popular at Chelsea just now. This goes back to our away game at Porto in November when some fans were obviously in possession of, how shall I put this, what I believe are known as "jazz fags". I myself was at the front of the stand, and could hear a song floating down from the back, not recognisable initially, but then becoming clearer. Within 5 minutes every Chelsea fan in stand had joined in, and the Porto stewards were laughing their heads off. For the rest of the night, including on the way to the station and into town, snatches of Three Little Birds could be heard all over the place and has maintained its popularity throughout the rest of the season, although it's more likely to be heard at away games.

  • Comment number 6.

    from a Celtic fan point of view, Fields of Athenrye is a good favourite while Let The People Sing is a good atmosphere setter. Of You'll Never Walk Alone in big games in outstanding. Fields of Anthenrye I think was started as it links to the reason why Celtic was founded and I think it is similar idea with Let The People Sing. Not to sure about YNWA, I don't really care about who sang it first. It's a great tune and I love singing it with my scarf in the air. Great read, good to see Dundee United with some "anthems". I have to laugh at the Chelsea fans story! Class

  • Comment number 7.

    Not really answering your question Jim, but as an Arab at Hampden last weekend I found the singing of "Love is in the Air" at the end of the match the most evocative moment of a brilliant day. I would agree that these songs capture fans and club perfectly and suggest that they become part of the "brand" associated with a football club and contribute to making United distinctive just as the inspired decision to switch from black and white to colour (tangerine) in the late 60s.

  • Comment number 8.

    I remember "Love is in the Air" really taking off during the Tommy McLean days, although it was more commonly sung in the Shed as "Olaf's in the Air" for Kjell Olafsson.

    Saturday was a great day, I have several friends who are Motherwell fans who obviously wanted us to win and they all commented on how great the atmosphere was and how loud the United fans were all the way through.

  • Comment number 9.

    It surprises me just how many clubs sing You'll Never Walk Alone. Of course, everybody knows that Celtic and Liverpool sing it at every game but I only learnt this year that Kaiserslautern and Mainz sing it in Germany, although Kaiserslautern do it much, much better! I can only imagine these clubs were inspired by the likes of Celtic and Liverpool.

  • Comment number 10.

    Love is in the air was first sung around the time of the 2nd "viking Invasion" of Tannadice, when we had Erik Pederson, Lars Zetterlund and Kjell Ollafson. It was sung as often with "Olaffson's in the air" as it was with "Love is in the air". I think it was the 2 "Tango Men" and their cronies of the SAS who started this and "Beautiful Sunday". For United, I also love when we sing Elvis' number, "Can't help falling in love with you". United do a good rendition of John Denver's "Annie's Song", even if its just the instrumental part! As for pure chants, I love the "Hullo Hullo, how do you do?", "We Do!!! We love United, We Do!"

    I think that United had some creative ones mainly about our great rivals across the road, sadly haven't been sung enough of late due to the Fun being unable to get out of division 1. But Englebert Humperdink's "Please Release me" was a great number to sing on the terraces.

    As a kid growing up I hated any sort of singing, whether that was being pressured at school to sing or at family parties, but put me inside a Football stadium with a couple of thousand other Arabs and I would sing myself hoarse! I used to love going to games and singing all the songs, trying to work up the bottle to start one yourself and if the stand took! I'd be beaming all day! :)

    We all know football chants CAN get a little close to the bone, but in general its one of the most joyous moments in life to be belting out a song to roar your team on

  • Comment number 11.

    Erik Pederson, Lars Zetterlund and Kjell Ollafson were sitting next to me at Hampden, and they were as up for it all as any Arab. Erik had his old Utd top on with his name still on it. I wonder if Kjell knew LIITA was originally for him as he listened to us all belting it out? I hope so.

  • Comment number 12.

    I'm sure that Beautiful Sunday was first sung at the play-off away leg against Partick Thistle and that there was also a version of Love is in the Air for Sieb Dykstra saying that Gloves are in the Air. Both songs originate in the mid to late 90's and are still as popular as ever as was shone in the cup final last week. Well done lads and here's hoping for another great season next season.

  • Comment number 13.

    Unintentionally hilarious!

    Beautiful Sunday and Paper Roses are about as "hip" as... well, the word hip!

    Bless you, Jim.

  • Comment number 14.

    I concur with Blue Baby and "Three Little Birds" becoming popular at Chelsea. I heard some guys singing it on the way to WHL and apparantly it was sung away at Pompey, but I didn't hear it! I certainly hope to hear a lot more of it next season, we need longer more drawn out chants at the Bridge.

    Singing classic songs is a given by Turkish fans (Turkish songs of course!), looks like it is slowly becoming popular here too ^_^ Although in saying that stuff like "You are my Chelsea" and "Gianfranco Zola" (To the tune of I love you baby) surely count?

    What about One Step Beyond?! ;P

  • Comment number 15.

    Yeah, i distinctly remember "Olofsson in the air!"

  • Comment number 16.

    i find that songs like love is in the air and beautiful sunday usually start as fans join in to what the grounds dj plays over the tannoy.
    bout time tannadice dj started playing led zeps tangerine.
    or how about dens dj playin titanic soundtrack, oh no, titanic only went down once.

  • Comment number 17.

    my personal favourite is the Dundee United song.... get on your hands and knees and pray its the anniversary of the dens park massacrer of 65 (65!) its the day we wont forget and the day Dundee will regret its the day we gave them 1 2 3 4 5!

  • Comment number 18.

    thats the website you can get audio + lyrics for Scottish clubs

  • Comment number 19.

    The Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen when sung at pittdorie is special especially at night when there is a decent crowd.

  • Comment number 20.

    What's wrong with the hearts song? Something original, not copied from a song that was in the charts, no other club in the world has a similar song. It is the best song in Scottish football.

  • Comment number 21.

    Re # 18, 19 & 20.

    Big thanks to TheShedBoy1983. Had no idea this site existed. Ten Men Couldnae Carry Nade is a hoot. There is still a bit of humour about.

    Hibs fans used to have a version of The Northern Lights that I seem to remember had little to do with meaning ' home, sweet home to me'.

    It pains me to say but Hearts Hearts Glorious Hearts is a belter of a song. Best response is a healthy chorus of In Your Gorgie Slums although one of my mates, who had a nice wee flat in Wardlaw Street, did'nt agree.

  • Comment number 22.

    Yes I am biased, but the hearts song is indeed a belter. Credit to BaldyHibby for being gracious on that front. Saying it needs updating is utter mince and misses the point - I like the fact that it has a traditional feel to it and a bit of history, there are more than enough brainless newer chants, why get rid of the classics? And yes, RangerWillRobinson - sorry Jim but the utd choices mentioned are not, erm, 'hip'!!! Although, fair play to the arabs for having a good singalong!
    Must add though, hearts Europe choon (although unfortunately not any use for the coming season!) is a cracker.

  • Comment number 23.

    A little of topic here, but a Dundee United and St. Pauli fan (look at the pic at the top of the article), interesting I didn't know there was fan connection or am I just looking to far into this?

  • Comment number 24.

    youll never walk alone - celtic fc

  • Comment number 25.

    Burnley fans have a rendition of 'The Wild Rover' that's been going for years.

    Although it's not too popular in a town a few miles away...

  • Comment number 26.

    As a Hull KR fan, we have a habit of making songs up. For instance, if one sole spectator is trying deperately to get a chant going (and subsequently fails) we sing 'All by myself' by Celine Dion haha.

    And, not forgetting, When the red, red Robin comes bob, bob bobbing along...

  • Comment number 27.

    It is important to have your 'own' songs and not generic ones sung by all football fans. At Bristol City we have various Wurzels songs 'Drink up ye Zider' being the most iconic. The Wurzels actually recorded 'One for the Bristol City' as a remake of their song 'Morning Glory'.

    I used to love seeing thousands of City fans performing the 'Okey Cokey' or the 'Dziekanowski' as we called it after signing Celtic's Jacki.

  • Comment number 28.

    RangerWillRobinson, I may have been intentionally hilarious, how can you know.

  • Comment number 29.

    lynchbhoy - i think he could be a celtic fan trying to be at a cup final this season.
    tina turner - simply the best

  • Comment number 30.

    One line irked me so much I felt the need to sign up to register my annoyance:

    "thunderously emotional when belted out from a full Tynecastle, but perhaps in need of updating."

    Updating how Jim? Enlighten me. It is a classic footballing anthem (yes, I am biased) but seriously, have a word. It's been belted out in the stands of Tynecastle for decades now and is considerably better than most teams going "oh that sounds good we'll just nick that"

    At a time when people are bemoaning a lack of tradition in football, this is one of the geart ones left. Shame on you for such slanderous suggestion.

  • Comment number 31.

    As an American Rangers fan, hearing "Follow, Follow" being sung by a packed Ibrox gives me the chills like nothing else in football can. It's also great to wake me up when I have to be up at 4 AM over here to watch the matches.

  • Comment number 32.

    Super Marius don't get too irked........The Hearts song is as I've said thunderously emotional. By updating it I meant a newer voice to re -record the original record sung as I recall by the late Hector Nicoll. I'm not suggesting any change at all to the song itself which I am a big fan of. I should have made myself clearer.

    Many of the old recordings of the traditional club songs played at various grounds, are in need of either digital remastering given their age or having a newer recording with a newer voice on them.

    The songs themselves are part of our footballing histroy and I'm not suggesting any change to them.

  • Comment number 33.

    The song was updated in the 1980's i think, possibly during the bittersweet 1985/86 season, and then again in 2005/2006, the latest of which was an awful version. The 1986 version is played as often as the Hector Nicol version. It is the greatest song in football.

  • Comment number 34.

    Not sure, but I always thought that the Hibs fans started singing 'sunshine on leith' around the time when Tom Farmer saved us from administration (or even worse - a merger with Hearts) around 1990(ish)... I've got the video of the Skol Cup win the following year and it is played throughout... anyway, if I'm wrong, the lyrics sum up the emotions of that period pretty well. I'm off to watch that video...

  • Comment number 35.

    Come on Jim get real "digital remastering" the Hearts song you would do that to Hector Nicols classic!!!.

    Think I am right in saying you can still hear the scratches and crackles on the version they play at Tynecastle - much better!! - surely you are old enough to have a vinyl collection Jim?

  • Comment number 36.

    For me the Hearts song is undoubtedly the best song in Scottish football. I find myself singing it sometimes and I'm not even a Jambo!

    We do have a few good songs at United. The United version of "glory, glory" when sang by a packed Tannadice is something special.

    Oh, and number 23, Lynchboy - if you're trying to suggest that Spencey is a Celtic man then you are very much mistaken. Jim is most definitely an Arab!

  • Comment number 37.

    I'm sure that Love is in the air was first sung at the Scottish cup semi replay against Kilmarnock at Easter road in 1997.
    The DJ/stadium announcer started a sing-off between the fans.
    Kilmarnock got Paper Roses (unlucky) while Dundee United got Love is in the air.
    We won the sing-off but lost the match.
    The fans enjoyed the song so much that I heard at the next match and it's still sung today.


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