The Sound of Football: Arsenal (Andrew)

Every fortnight we cover the best and worst football songs from every club in the UK from our book ‘The Sound Of Football: Every Club, Every Song’. You can buy it here

Arsenal

Nickname: The Gunners

Stadium: Emirates Stadium

Stadium Capacity: 60,361

Song: Good Old Arsenal

She doesn’t strike you as a Gooner. Her majesty. Queen Elizabeth II. But when ‘Gooner’ is derived from ‘Gunner’ and was bestowed on Arsenal’s original fans because they worked at a weapons factory in Woolwich, it all makes sense. So who has the biggest cannons in the world? Take a guess. And it’s not Pornhub. Nor is it the Pope. He has canons. Instead, yes, you guessed it; it’s Queen Elizabeth II, commander in chief of the armed forces and ruler of the British Empire.

It’s no surprise Her Majesty supports a team that was once a significant force but whose fortunes have been on the slide. A team that was the first to be broadcast on radio; the first to be broadcast on television; and the first to be blocked by everyone in the world after Piers Morgan banged on about them every minute of every hour of every day on Twitter. And a team who seems to think that first is what you get if you eat too much salt. Let’s just say, if Arsenal were the monarch, we’d politely say, “you’re looking well, your majesty”, and not ask how many countries she’s conquered lately.

The Queen is not the only member of the Royal Family to support Arsenal. Prince Harry is also a fan of the Gunners. We can only guess why someone who is fourth in line for the throne and moves further away with each year would be attracted to Arsenal.

Arsenal, unlike Queen Elizabeth, has a notable first (she, of course, is the second of her name). In 1971, Arsenal released a single to celebrate reaching the FA Cup final. The song was the indirect result of a competition to find a song for Arsenal which could rival Liverpool’s ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone. However, unlike that song (which we talk about later), Arsenal wanted an original song and not one borrowed from the charts. Instead, a TV competition organised by ITV tried to find a worthy song. However, none of the entries were considered right, and football pundit Jimmy Hill (who will pop up again for his musical legacy for Coventry City) asked the then Arsenal manager, Bertie Mee, for permission to write a song for the club instead. Bertie said yes, and Jimmy wrote “Good Old Arsenal” to the tune of “Rule, Britannia.” This became the first record released to be performed by a football team’s squad to commemorate the club reaching the FA Cup final. 

The Queen and Prince Harry are not the only famous fans of Arsenal. If you ask the average Gooner to name a famous fan, the Queen would not be their first choice. Arsenal fans have a more famous leader among their terraces: a man who brought more terror to the world than a ship of British boats laden with Earl Grey tea, Rich Tea biscuits, and a cargo full of bloody bayonets to stick it right up Johnny Foreigner’s foreign parts. Arsenal’s most famous fan is a deceased terrorist mastermind, Al-Qaeda leader, and professional recluse Osama Bin Laden.

As the Gooner chant goes:

Osama, woah-woah

Osama, woah-woah

He’s hiding in Kabul

He loves the Arsenal

(Source: fan chant)

This isn’t accurate – he was hiding in Abbottabad in Pakistan, which is not even the same country as the Afghan capital. If only Prince William (see Aston Villa) was a fan of Arsenal, he could have used his geography degree to point them in the right direction.

There are no chants about the Queen. If she is peeved at only being the second most famous Arsenal fan, she doesn’t mind. Even the Queen concedes there’s only room for two royal figures at Arsenal, and neither of them has the surname, Windsor.

There are two Kings at Arsenal. First, the team enters the Emirates Stadium to Elvis Presley’s ‘The Wonder of You,’ adopted as the club’s anthem in 2007. But, like the Emirates, the song has never caught on with fans has in recent years been replaced by ‘Lux Aeterna,’ a track from the soundtrack to the film Requiem for a Dream.

The second King, however, will never be forgotten. He is the King of Kings, Arsenal’s greatest player, Thierry Henry.

Thierry Henry is a former captain, a multiple winner of PFA and FWA Player of The Year, Arsenal’s all-time leading scorer (228 goals in all competitions), and winner of two league titles and three FA Cups. When Henry left to join Barcelona in 2007, we imagine that even Her Majesty bowed down to this King. All hail King Henry.

Buy the Sound of Football from Amazon.

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