Date:Saturday September 18 2010
You`ll never walk alone, Forever blowing bubbles, Blue moon rising, and heck… even Keep right on. Anthems and chants have become as much a part of today`s football as the players themselves. I`m sure every one of you knows which of the above anthems associate with which club? And rightly so. They bring identity in a way that simply can`t be measured. They bring passion and they bring a real sense of togetherness in backing a team, so it`s been no surprise that this has been a point of debate amongst Villan`s for some years now.
How to adopt a club anthem.
The club have made it fairly clear that they view the issue as something that should be left to the fans and the fans have made it pretty clear that it`s just not going to happen without the clubs input.
Either way it`s left us at a stand still and while I was thinking about this at work just a few days ago, it got me to thinking… how did some of the English game`s famous anthems come along?
Well, with some careful research I found out…
You`ll Never walk alone
The song, originally from the 1945 Rogers and Hammerstein musical, Carousel, has long been associated with the Merseyside club, and later Celtic. But it was the season of 1962/63 Liverpool had drawn bogey team Leicester in the FA Cup semi-finals after already losing to them both home and away in the league. Once again Leicester got the better of the match and won 1-0. With the rain pouring, the Liverpool fans stood applauding their heroes from the field when as record dictates, one comedian amongst the Hillsborough crowd stood and starting to sing, "When you walk through a storm…!" Many others of the 25,000 travelling fans saw the funny side and joined in. But then at the final home game of that season, Liverpool had taken a very comfortable 5-1 lead against our friends from over the road when the song started up again, presumably from the same set of travelling supporters that were at Hillsborough that rainy FA Cup day. From then on well into the following season the song grew and grew amongst supporters which prompted local band and long time Liverpool fans, Gerry & The Pacemakers to release the record and thereby cementing it`s place amongst the Anfield stands.
Forever Blowing Bubbles
There are two versions of where this originated from but as one involves a painting of a 5 year old boy blowing bubbles that became an advert for soap, with said boy resembling a member of the West Ham reserves, I don`t think it likely. The more logical one is that the West Ham board employed a band that would perform at Upton Park called the Beckton Gas band, and as a part of their set, they would perform the popular 1920 hit "Forever Blowing Bubbles" as it was customary back then to sing popular songs on the terraces. The song became increasingly popular amongst the Upton Park regulars where quite simply, it just stuck.
Now I couldn`t find just why the Eastlands club adopted this as their anthem amongst all the websites going on about some sort of Manchester City movie coming soon named Blue Moon Rising, but what I can tell you is that it was originally performed by Elvis and covered by Frank Sinatra. Some pedigree, I`m sure you`ll agree but quite how it became associated with Manchester City, despite the rather obvious 'blue` reference, I`ve no idea.
Keep Right On
Even Small Heath have their own anthem. As much as you hate them, just think objectively for just a moment… is it effective? Certainly! Well it was 1956 and player Alex Govan would regularly belt out his favourite song on the team coach which eventually got to point where his teammates would join in. As the coach would arrive at the stadiums to the greetings of the fans, the fans would hear the singing and picked up on the words themselves. So as Birmingham played Arsenal at home in the quarter finals of the FA Cup, the fans started to sing the now famous lines, "Keep Right On…!" Motivated, they went on to win 3-1 and book their place in the semi finals against Sunderland. The trick was repeated against Sunderland, which saw them reach the final against eventual winners Manchester City. They may have lost out on the trophy that day but they gained something else of value, their own anthem.
Anyway, you may be sitting their thinking what has this got to do with me, I`m a Villa fan?
Well the reason being, there is an argument there that clearly shows how we can incorporate our very own anthem and yes, the club do need to be involved.
Firstly, It should be played at the start, at half time and at the end of every home game. It should be played so much we dream the lyrics, none of this publishing the lyrics in the programme notes malarkey I keep reading about it. Personally, I would find that just plain embarrassing. It should become as much as a match day experience as the half time beer and pie.
Secondly, it needs to be supported by the club by handing out free flags and banners and anything that will encourage people to get in the mood. Yes this will have short term costs, but they should be thinking long term when we`re able to get Villa Park rocking once more encouraging others to come down and be a part of the match day experience. We need to be selling out each week and an anthem would be a huge step in that direction.
And finally, Much in the way of Liverpool having "You`ll Never Walk Alone" Emblazoned above the Shankly gates, we should adorn Villa Park which a choice phrase from the anthem. We need to associate ourselves as much as we can with the anthem and what better way than to have visting supporters greeted by "something something something" on the side of Villa Park, or something else to that effect.
As for the anthem itself, what to pick?
That`s a whole other story. Someone out there needs to grab the bull by the horns and lead the way in bringing us together on the matter.
For what it`s worth, my two cents worth…
An anthem should be unique to a club, none of this Liverpool/Celtic thing, and it shouldn`t be sung, it should be bellowed. It should be something that you have to reach right down inside to muster the voice for the support needed. You`ll Never Walk Alone is sung, Keep Right On is bellowed. And finally, it should last more than 20 seconds. We should be committing ourselves to each song. I love Holteenders In The Sky as much as the next person, but how long does it last, and more importantly only one section of our support can credibly sing it.
The only one viable option I`ve come across, and I remember VoiceOfTheHolte touching on this a while back, is Ringing The Bells.
It is the only option that is uniquely Villa would be easy to incorporate and would be fitting for all future generations, the only problem being its length. How can we play a song at the beginning, at half time, and at a full time if it only lasts 20 seconds? The only way to combat that would be if the club were to commission an artist to record an extended version… preferably a Villan.
Date:Saturday September 18 2010
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