Wednesday 7 December 2016

Altogether now: 'We're all part of Trap's Army. . .'

As we look to choose our Euro 2012 song, Damian Corless ponders past glories and glaring misses

Published 08/01/2012 | 06:00

Ole: Xavi and
Iniesta, be very
afraid — a new
Irish soccer
anthem will
roar from the
terraces in
Poland this
summer
Ole: Xavi and Iniesta, be very afraid — a new Irish soccer anthem will roar from the terraces in Poland this summer

The shortlisted songs will be aired on an as-yet-unnamed "national media partner", following which the public will be able to vote via text message.

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FAI spokesman Peter Sherrard says the decision to go the talent-show route is due to intense public interest, with scores of would-be composers and performers offering their services.

The contest is sure to draw a sackful of entries. Two contenders have already been posted on YouTube. 'Be The 12th Player' samples manager Giovanni Trapattoni delivering a pep talk to Ireland's fans over a catchy eurobeat ditty. And '24 Years (We're Going To Win The Euros)' hijacks 'Living Next Door To Alice' and warrants a straight red card.

Happily for all concerned, panellists Brady, Giles and Dunphy won't be asked to whittle down the hundreds of expected entries to a shortlist for the public vote. But how will the football body judge a song contest?

"We won't," says Sherrard. "The social media seems like the ideal way to do that." So we're talking about a preliminary internet vote to winnow out the final line-up for public consumption? "Something like that."

But the FAI may have to re-think holding an internet pre-poll now that the glove puppet Dustin has set the cat amongst the turkeys with his midweek assertion that not only will he enter, but he will win the competition.

The FAI stresses the event will raise money for charity. Dustin in the final would surely raise extra phone revenue, but his mocking presence would just as surely underline the fact that official football songs are woeful almost by definition. Perhaps it would be best to scrap the whole thing and donate the running costs to charity instead.

Nevertheless, here's our guide to the good, the bad and the Toto Schillaci of footie anthems.

FIVE THAT HIT THE NET

'Here Come The Good Times' -- Ireland (2002)

There is one school of thought which maintains that the greatest Irish football song of all time is 'Put 'Em Under Pressure' from Italia '90, which mulched together Horslips' greatest hit, Jack Charlton soundbites and the Olé chant into a rousing serving of heroic porridge. Another school of thought (this one) says NO! This bouncy 2002 ode to Mick McCarthy features Westlife, Dustin and dire lyrics, and it's still much better.

'Back Home' -- England (1970)

England flew out to Mexico in 1970 to defend their crown as world champions, and the theme of this upbeat number was very much that, back home, the people of England expected every man to do his duty. Phil Coulter and Bill Martin, who wrote the song, followed up two Eurovision smashes ('Puppet On A String', 'Congratulations') with more of the same, except with extra handclaps and crowd roars.

'World In Motion' -- England (1990)

Not New Order's finest hour, but as football songs go, it's a masterpiece. The fan delirium of Italia '90 was mirrored in the raves of the Madchester scene, and the English FA nixed the song's original title, 'E Is For England', for obvious reasons. John Barnes beat off stiff competition for the rapping rights from Peter Beardsley, Paul Gascoigne and Chris Waddle. Truly a team of all the talents.

'Three Lions' -- England (1996)

A hat-trick for England as this clever poppy number again topped the charts on its musical merits. Penned by The Lightning Seeds' Ian Broudie with comics Skinner and Baddiel, 'Three Lions' observed some traditions (name-checking heroes) while bravely hinting that England's record since 1966 was pretty dismal. Still, they concluded, hope springs eternal. (Of course, England flopped again).

'Nessun Dorma' -- Everyone (1990)

Having exhausted the fund of the best bespoke football songs ever, all four of them, there's space left to pay homage to the greatest of them all. Puccini's aria was never a football song until the BBC borrowed it for Italia '90. Translating as None Shall Sleep, it was the perfect theme tune for Jack's Army, home and abroad.

FIVE OWN GOALS

'Give It A Lash, Jack' -- Ireland (1990)

Penned by Liam Harrison, this wasn't the official team song of Italia '90 (that honour went to 'Put 'Em Under Pressure') but with Big Jack and the players in the video it half seemed like it. Sounding more Dubbalin than Dustin, it was described by one critic as 100pc "pig-under-the-arm Oirish blarney".

'Don't Come Home Too Soon' -- Scotland (1998)

In 1978 Scotland's fans invaded Argentina singing 'Ally's Tartan Army', a song that echoed the view of manager Ally McLeod that Scotland were 110pc definitely going to win the World Cup. They didn't, but Del Amitri overcompensated with 'Don't Come Home Too Soon' which completely missed the point of football songs.

'Anfield Rap' -- Liverpool (1988)

Not a national team anthem, but so fabulously awful it can't be ignored. They fancied themselves as the Beastie Boys, they breakdanced, they rattled their bling, and they rapped wearing backwards baseball caps. It was as good as it sounds.

'I'm Mick McCarthy's Baby' -- Ireland (2002)

Set to the tune of X-Press 2 & David Byrne's 'Lazy', this abomination from the radio ham Jim-Jim opens with "I'm Mick McCarthy's baby and he buys me nice ice cream", and nosedives for the gutter from there. They say football's a funny old game. Not here it isn't.

'Vindaloo' -- England (1998)

There are some who argue that this is the wittiest and generally finest football song of all time. And it should be, given the strength of the Fat Les line-up which consisted of Keith (father of Lily) Allen on lyrics, Blur's Alex James on music and artist Damien Hirst doing the video. Sadly, in trying to send up England's football yob culture, it gormlessly glorifies it.

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