The Sound of Football: Birmingham (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

Birmingham City

Nickname: The Blues

Ground: St Andrews

Stadium Capacity: 29,409

Song: Keep Right On To The End Of The Road

Birmingham City’s official song is ‘Keep Right On To The End Of The Road’ by Harry Lauder. However, it should be called ‘Keep Right On To The End Of The Canal’ as Birmingham has a longer canal network than Venice. Unlike Venice, Birmingham has twice been voted Europe’s least romantic city. Yet with a canal network that gives it the nickname “the Venice of the north,” perhaps it’s Venice, the city of love, that should be known as ‘the Birmingham of the south’*?

Birmingham was the first English club to participate in a European competition when it played in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup competition. It was also the first English club side to reach a European final, although they lost 4 – 1 to Barcelona. Birmingham was also the second English club to participate in the European competition by reaching the final the following year. However, again, it lost to foreign opposition when Roma beat it.

In 1956 Birmingham became the first team to reach the FA Cup Final without playing any games at home. In the build-up to its semi-final match, one of the payers, Alex Govan, revealed that his favourite song was ‘Keep Right on to the End of the Road’. Alex Govan said about the song:

I thought no more about it, but when the third goal went in at Hillsborough, the Blues fans all started singing it. It was the proudest moment of my life.”

The song has a sad history. It was inspired by a tragic event in the First World War and was written after the singer and entertainer Harry Lauders’ son, Captain John C. Lauder, was killed in action at the Somme.

Harry received a letter from an officer in his son’s company. The letter described his son as a leader of ‘great gallantry’ who, in his dying words, had ordered his troops to ‘carry on. Those words inspired Harry to write ‘Keep Right On To The End Of The Road’ as a tribute.

*Although this ‘fact’ is widely quoted, it may be the work of an imaginative member of the Birmingham tourist board.

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