The Sound of Football: Cheltenham Town (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

Cheltenham Town

Nickname: The Robins

Ground: The Abbey Business Stadium

Stadium Capacity: 7,133

Song: No official song

Cheltenham doesn’t have an official song, but if it wants a suitably heroic anthem, we can suggest it should call on a local hero and former Olympian, Eddie’ The Eagle’ Edwards.

According to the Olympic spirit:  “the important thing is not to win, but to take part“. One man embodies that spirit more than any other British athlete: Cheltenham’s Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards.

Eddie was the first competitor to represent Great Britain in Olympic ski jumping, a fantastic achievement when Cheltenham had neither snow nor hills to practice on.

His sporting ambition was also handicapped by a lack of funding, which prevented him from travelling abroad to train, and by his need to wear glasses, as he was near-sighted.

Glasses are a disadvantage in ski jumping – when Eddie jumped, his glasses would fog up. At the Calgary Olympics, he finished last, but the public took him to their hearts, and he became famous as a plucky underdog. At the closing ceremony, the president of the Organising Committee said:

At these Games, some competitors have won gold, some have broken records, and some of you have even soared like an eagle.

Unfortunately, other competitors didn’t have the Olympic spirit and complained that Eddie had made a mockery of their sport. They demanded the rules be changed to stop underdogs from competing. The International Olympic Committee created ‘the Eddie the Eagle Rule’, which requires Olympic hopefuls to compete in international events and place in the top 30 per cent or the top 50 competitors.

Eddie never competed in another Olympics. However, his skill in falling from a great height proved helpful when he went on to win the ITV celebrity diving show, Splash in 2013.

Cheltenham Town was founded in 1892. It spent the first three decades in local football, where it celebrated several championships and cup wins. Since moving to the football league, its trophy cabinet has been as bare as Eddie’s.

Eddie is not just a great faller; he’s also made several hit records. He recorded a song in Finnish entitled ‘Mun nimeni on Eetu’ (‘My name is Eetu’) even though he does not speak Finnish. Eddie’s less-than-perfect pronunciation added to its appeal. Later, he recorded another Finnish-language song: ‘Eddien Siivellä’ (‘On Eddie’s Wing’). Music doesn’t have an ‘Eddie The Eagle’ rule, but if it did…

Instead of a song, Cheltenham fans have several memorable chants, and perhaps one of them explains why they don’t have a song. If you visit the Abbey Business Stadium, you’ll hear fans sing:

We can’t read, and we can’t write, but that don’t really matter

We all come from Cheltenham-shire and we can drive a tractor

Ooh arr, ooh arr, ooh arr, ooh arr, ooh arr!

(Source: terrace chant)

Perhaps, when fans can’t read or write, it’s too much to expect a song from them too.

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