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
Ground: Ewood Park
Stadium Capacity: 31,154
Song: The Wild Rover (Trad)
Blackburn Rover’s anthem is, naturally, ‘The Wild Rover.’ It’s probably the most widely performed Irish song around the world:
“I’ve been a wild rover for many a year, and I’ve spent all my money on this seat right here.
So there’s no point in saving for a rainy day, ‘cos I’m a wild rover, and here I will stay.
AND IT’S NO NAY NEVER, NO NAY NEVER NO MORE!
‘COS I’LL STAY A WILD ROVER FOREVER AND MORE!“
The song tells the story of a young man who has been away from his home for many years. Returning to his former alehouse, the landlady refuses him credit; until he presents the gold he gained while he was away. Finally, he sings that his days of roving are over, and he intends to return to his home and settle down.
To some, it’s a temperance song because it celebrates the end of his wild days. To others, it’s a drinking song, another drink before heading home. But, to Blackburn fans, it’s the perfect choice because Rovers fans were once known for their ‘wild adventures’ on the road – or, to give ‘adventure’ another name, hooliganism.
Today, football hooligans are more often found on satellite television shows presented by English actor and Eastenders’ landlord, Danny Dyer, than rioting in row D of the family stands of Premiership grounds. However, fans of Danny’s shows might not be aware that football hooliganism is not a modern phenomenon – it’s older than most clubs in the football league, and the first record of crowd trouble is linked to Blackburn Rovers.
Teams from the Home Counties surrounding London dominated footballs early years. The first team to break this southern monopoly was Blackburn after they won the FA Cup in 1884.
The Blackburn fans had a bad reputation. For one game in London, they terrified the locals by being “northern” (working class). A newspaper at the time, The Pall Mall Gazette, described them as:
“A northern horde of uncouth garb and strange oaths – like a tribe of Sudanese Arabs let loose.”
It was unfair to pick on Blackburn’s fans for being northern and working-class when its opponents that day weren’t just ‘northern’ – they were Scottish. Moreover, Blackburn was due to play Queens Park from Glasgow.
This wasn’t the only incident. In 1888, Preston refused to play a match against Blackburn because the club didn’t want to face Blackburn’s fans.
Preston and Blackburn have long been rivals, and there’s no love lost between the two sets of fans. Both groups of fans have an unusual tradition. When they are relegated, they bury a coffin decked out in the club’s colours. Once the side is promoted, they go back and ‘raise’ the coffin.
Unlike most teams, Blackburn Rovers has only ever had one design to its home kit. The distinctive blue and white halved jersey is widely acknowledged as the “town colour.” Although the design has remained the same, the side in which the colours fall has often changed. This is because blue resided on the wearers left since 1946. Before that, blue and white often switched over almost yearly.
In recent years there has been unrest between fans and the club due to unpopular decisions made by the club’s owners. The owners tried to get the fans back by consulting them over a choice of music for the team to run out. The options are the regular selections of stadium anthems, but they missed a trick by not including some of the more unusual Blackburn inspired songs.
First up is the metal band Frenzy with their simply named tune – Blackburn Rovers. A song about watching Blackburn play on TV. It’s not just metal bands who like Blackburn. The Norwegian band Seven released a song called ‘Blackburn (Always In My Heart)’. The true story of a former band member who lost his heart to Blackburn Rovers, and lost his girlfriend. And then, heartbroken, we can only assume he went to the pub and got very, very drunk while singing ‘The Wild Rover’.
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