Category Archives: Andrew

The Sound of Football: Brentford (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

Brentford

Nickname: The Bees

Ground: Griffin Park

Stadium Capacity: 12,763

Song: Hey Jude

Did Rod Stewart play for Brentford? We know that his first love was football, closely followed by blondes and platform shoes. On his hit song, ‘You’re In My Heart (The Final Acclaim),’ he compared one of his conquests with the best team he’d ever seen. Better even than Manchester United or his beloved Celtic. Was Rod talking about Brentford?

For years, the press would write that Rod had played for The Bees as a young man. But, in 1995, he finally confessed he’d never played at Griffin Park. He’d only had a trial as a schoolboy. We think we can now assume that Brentford was not the best team he’d ever seen.

One man believes Brentford was the best team he’s ever seen, and that’s ex-player Lloyd Owusu.

Owusu joined Brentford from non-league Slough in 1998 and immediately made an impact, helping the team to promotion. He finished top scorer with an impressive 22 goals. Over the next few years, he continued to feature prominently and became a fan’s favourite due to his ‘raise the roof` goal celebrations

Although Owusu left the club briefly, he returned in 2005 for a second spell. The fans welcomed his return, and one in particular – Status Quo bassist John ‘Rhino` Edwards – even created a tribute song, ‘Owusu The One And Only, in his honour.

Brentford’s club song is ‘Hey Jude’ by the Beatles, played at every home game. For the chorus, the fans sing:

Laaa Laaa Laaa La-la-la Laaa

La-la-la Laaa Brentford

Laaa Laaa Laaa La-la-la Laaa

La-la-la Laaa Brentford

(Source: fan chant)

There are two theories why the fans sing Hey Jude. The first is that a woman named Jude in the 1960s dumped a Brentford player, and the club played the song to remind him of her. The second theory is more straightforward – and more plausible – it was simply started by supporters who spotted that the chants of “Hey Jude” could be easily swapped with “Brent-ford“.

‘Hey Jude’ is one of The Beatles’ greatest songs, but drummer Ringo Starr almost didn’t play on it. The band was ready to record the track, but Ringo went to the toilet before they started. The rest of the band didn’t notice he had gone. He heard Paul McCartney singing and ran back in time to hit his drums right on cue.

John Lennon may have once said that Ringo wasn’t “even the best drummer in The Beatles“, but Ringo knew, like all great drummers, that timing is everything.

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The Joy Of Socks (Andrew)

Once a week I run at lunchtime from our office in Larbert. I usually prepare my bag the night before so I have my kit, my towel, a change of clothes and my trainers. I was a Boy Scout. Be prepared!

Except, I wasn’t a very good Boy Scout, and a couple of weeks back I forgot the most important item of all. Not my towel, there’s always ways to dry off even if you forget a towel, including but not limited to a roll of toilet paper, which we shall never speak about.

No, the worst item you can forget is a fresh pair of socks. Once you’ve been running you don’t want to wear your socks again. They need to be banished into the darkest deepest parts of your bag so that the smell is smothered until you fish them out later with a pair of tongs to throw them in the washing machine.

But if you have no socks, what do you do? Nothing. You can’t wear loo roll on your feet. Nor can colour in your ankles with a black marker and pretend you’ve actually got socks on.

Instead, you have no choice but to dress like an 18 year old trying to get into a nightclub, ankles flashing on too short trousers.

I had to spend the rest of my day making sure not to leave my desk so that no one could accuse me, a 44 year old man, of being some kind of Hoxton Hipster from 2015.

“Is that your ankles I can see?” Someone would ask.

And I have to explain that I work in social media marketing and as a part time barista and that this was a uniform, not a choice.

So, from now on, to avoid this happening again I now have a pair of emergency socks in my bag. That way if I ever forget to bring a pair I can break out the emergency socks so that I can walk freely again without showing off my ankles.

My first Podcast (Andrew)

When books are converted to films it’s hard to read them again without hearing the voice of the actor that played them. Until then, you will have your own idea of how they sound. Maybe Jack Reacher sound deep and gruff. Or Harry Potter like a chipmunk. Whatever it is, you now hear the voice of Daniel Radcliffe when Harry Potter speaks.

I don’t know what voice you have give me. Am I deep and gruff or do I squeek like a cartoon animal? Either way, if you want to hear what I actually sound like then you’re welcome to listen to the latest Glasgow Triathlon Club podcast where I talk about running every street near my house on a Glasgow A-Z.

You can listen to it hear (and on Apple Podcasts/Spotify etc): Listen here

The Sound of Football: Brechin (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

Brechin City

Nickname: The City

Ground: Glebe Park

Stadium Capacity: 3,960 (Seated 1,519)

Song: Two Can Play That Game

Brechin’s unofficial song is the Tractor Song:

I can’t read,

And I can’t write,

But that doesn’t really matter…

Cause I’m a Brechin City fan,

And I can drive a tractor!

(Source: terrace chant)

This celebration of a singular talent is appropriate for Brechin and one player, in particular, Bobby Brown (not the R & B singer).

Manchester United’s Ryan Giggs was a spring chicken fresh from the youth team compared to Brechin’s Brown. While Giggs rewrote record books at Manchester United by playing for over 20 years, there are unsung heroes at other clubs who play on year after year to show that footballing life doesn’t stop at 35, 40 or even… 50 years old.

Between 1983 and 1998, Brown played 444 games for Brechin. What’s remarkable is that he should have played many more. He made his debut for Brechin’s first team three years after joining the club. Even then, he only played one game before he was sent back to the reserves. However, he became an almost permanent fixture on the team sheet once he forced his way back into the first team. We say ‘almost’ because, for a brief time, he was involved in a very peculiar ban when the Scottish Football League wouldn’t let him play. After all, Brechin already had a Bobby Brown playing for them.

In the early 90s, Brechin signed a second Bobby Brown (still not the R&B singer), and the Scottish Football League wouldn’t let both Browns play at the same time because they shared the same name. Brechin had to appeal to FIFA, who ruled there was nothing to stop two players with the same name playing. Or as Bobby Brown (the R&B singer) so famously sang ‘Two Can Play That Game’*

In 1994, Brechin held a testimonial for Bobby and the matchday program revealed the secret of his success: “Bobby has been, is, and always will be, a good professional“. It then added that Bobby was “not blessed with a lot of natural ability, but has produced a level of consistency more talented players will never achieve“.

It’s this consistency that meant Brown was still playing football for Broughty Ferry FC, a non-league side, on his 50th birthday. While standards may have slipped in recent times, it was not by much. In 2008-09 he was Broughty Ferry’s Players’ Player of the Year – at forty-nine. In comparison, his fiftieth year saw him make thirty-seven starting appearances for the club.

It’s legends like Bobby that teams should celebrate. Although Brechin has won leagues titles in the lower reaches of Scottish football and bounced back and forth between the third division and the first, players like Bobby provide the club with the heart and soul and bedrock of consistency that fans crave.

*We suspect this story may be a wind-up from a Brechin fan.

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You Can’t Give It Away (Andrew)

“Can I ask you a question?”

No, I’m not Brad Pitt. I know I look like him but I can assure you that while we might share the same chiseled features and unmistakable look of almighty handsome-ness, I am not him.

Is what I didn’t say because no one has ever asked me that. But I can but hope.

“Yes,” I said.

“What do you think of that t-shirt?” And he pointed at a neon pink t-shirt hanging on a rail at the back of the shop.

I was in a running shop to buy a t-shirt. In fact, I was now at the till having picked up a t-shirt and brought it to the till to pay for it. I had seen the pink t-shirt while browsing but hadn’t tried it on because it was a colour that can only be described with words like “shocking”, “blinding” or “confident in my sexuality”.

I’m not sure what to say so I try and think of something neutral. I say: “I prefer t-shirts with a pattern.”

It’s only when I say it that I realise I’ve handed him a simple blue t-shirt. I now look like a man who says I don’t like running while standing in a running shop buying running gear and talking about running.

The assistant doesn’t notice, instead they ask: “Would you buy it?”

Would I heck. I’d sooner run naked than wear a top that can be seen from the moon. You couldn’t give away a t-shirt like this. They should cut their losses now and just burn it. But I can’t say that. I say: “I’ve already paid for this one.” And I hold up the blue one.

But the assistant won’t take my evasion for an answer. “I know it’s divisive. We just want to know what people think of it?”

And I look at it again and I realise that while I wouldn’t buy it, I would actually wear it as I have a t-shirt which is exactly the same colour – and I worn it many times while out running. The only difference between my t-shirt and this one is that I received my one for free after a race.

And that’s when I realised that you could give it away because runners will accept anything if it’s free. I have race t-shirst I would never have considered buying. Insipid colours. Garish patterns. T-shirts which look like they’d been designed by a dog running through a paint pot. As long as it’s free, runners will keep it, wear it and not give it a second thought.

But ask us to buy it and no thanks!

The Sound of Football: Bradford City (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

Bradford City

Nickname: The Bantams

Ground: Coral Windows Stadium

Stadium Capacity: 25,136

Song: Let’s Get Ready For Wembley

In 2013 Bradford City became the first ever team from the fourth tier of English football to reach a major domestic Wembley cup final – the Football League Cup. On the pitch Bradford lost 5 – 0 to Swansea but off the pitch the Bantams scored with the unofficial song ‘Let’s Get Ready For Wembley’ based on the Ant and Dec classic ‘Let’s Get Ready To Rumble’.

The song was created by Bantam’s Banter, the unofficial Bradford City podcast, which Tom Fletcher and Dom Newton-Collinge record live from the Valley Parade press box. This was the first independent podcast to reach number one in the iTunes charts. The otherwise excellent song and video for ‘Let Get Ready For Wembley’ has one crime against the English language: Wembley is rhymed with tremble-y.

Ant and Dec would be proud – as would York City (see York City for a similar abuse of the English language).

Bradford City’s the only professional football club in England to wear claret and amber. Although Motherwell have the same colours in Scotland it’s thought it ‘borrowed’ them from Bradford. The origin of Bradford City’s colours is less well known but it’s assumed it adopted the same colours of the West Yorkshire Regiment that it first used as changing rooms for the club.

In 1985, 56 spectators died and many more were seriously injured when a fire engulfed a stand at the Valley Parade ground. It was the worst fire disaster in the history of English football. A special recording of the Liverpool FC anthem ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ was recorded to raise money for victims of the fire. It featured Gerry Marsden and Paul McCartney and was recorded under the name “The Crowd”.

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The Sound of Football: Bolton Wanderers (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

Bolton Wanderers

Nickname: The Trotters

Ground: The Reebok Stadium

Stadium Capacity: 28,100

Song: Just Can’t Get Enough

In March 2011, Bolton Wanderers started blasting out ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’ by Depeche Mode over the speakers every time a goal was scored to try and improve the atmosphere around the stands of The Reebok Stadium.

The club had used a similar trick to improve atmosphere on the club’s return to the Premier League with James Brown’s ‘I Feel Good’.

Owen Coyle, then Bolton manager, explained that the decision was part of Bolton’s efforts to improve the match day experience for fans.

The important thing is that we try and build an atmosphere, and that it gets better” he told The Bolton News, before he added: “It’s not my personal favourite but it might prove to be if we keep using it because it means we’ve scored goals.”

It’s fair to say that Owen Coyle never became a fan of Depeche Mode. He left the club in 2012 after Bolton was relegated from the Premiership after failing to score enough goals to stay up. Recent years have seen the club fall further and be threatened with winding up due to unpaid debts.

It’s surprising that Bolton’s Reebok Stadium lacks atmosphere, as, according to a survey by the British Association for the Advancement of Science, Boltonians are the friendliest people in Britain. This friendliness is not reflected in the stadium design. Rather than walk onto the pitch together, teams emerge from separate tunnels on either side of the halfway line. Also, the away fans are seated in the lower tiers not covered by the Reebok stadium’s roof. Visiting fans are advised to bring waterproofs if it looks like it might rain.

The club is proud of its history. In 1939 every member of the team volunteered to fight the Nazis. In front of a 23,000 strong crowd, the Bolton skipper gave a rousing speech before leading the entire team to sign up at a local Territorial Army hall.

For the next six years, the players faced some of the heaviest fighting of the war in France, North Africa and Italy, while also establishing themselves as a formidable regimental football team. They were even pulled off the front line to play King Farouk’s side in Cairo. Incredibly, after six years of fighting, all but one of the team survived the war.

Before moving to The Reebok Stadium in 1997, the club played for over 100 years at Burnden Park. Its most famous song relates to the older stadium and is sung to the tune of ‘The Blaydon Races’, a famous Geordie folk song (see Newcastle United).

The original is considered to be the unofficial anthem of Tyneside and is frequently sung by supporters of both Newcastle United and Newcastle Falcons rugby club. The song is used by a number of sides (Walsall, Blackburn, Berwick Rangers and Portadown) by changing the geographical references and dialect. The lyrics are changed to suit the club but the tune remains the same.

Aw went to Blaydon Races, ’twas on the ninth of Joon,

Eiteen hundred an’ sixty-two, on a summer’s efternoon;

Aw tyuk the ‘bus frae Balmbra’s, an’ she wis heavy laden,

Away we went alang Collingwood Street, that’s on the road to Blaydon.

(Source: trad.)

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The Sound of Football: Blackpool (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

Blackpool

Nickname: The Seasiders

Ground: Bloomfield Road

Stadium Capacity: 16,007

Song: Blackpool

When Blackpool celebrate scoring you’ll hear ‘Glad All Over’ by The Dave Clark Five. A home win will be soundtracked by ‘Rockin’ All Over the World’ by Status Quo. And, if the club has lost, fans can cheer themselves by singing its official anthem: ‘Blackpool’ by The Nolans.

The Nolan family had emigrated from Dublin to Blackpool in 1962. Parents Tommy & Maureen Nolan became a regular part of the variety show circuits that were a feature of Blackpool’s nightlife entertainment. They sang as The Singing Nolans and enlisted their family to help. Their children, Tommy Junior, Anne, Denise, Maureen, Brian, Linda, Bernadette & Coleen, would join them on stage.

In 1972, The Singing Nolans recorded a tribute to Blackpool, their favourite team.

Although the song was played over the tannoy at Bloomfield Road it would be another four years before fans warmed to it. In that time the daughters would become more famous as The Nolans, whose biggest hit was ‘I’m In The Mood For Dancing’. The Nolans would sell 25 million records worldwide – including 12 million in Japan, outselling The Beatles.

Yet the fans were still ambivalent towards ‘Blackpool’. And when you know more about Blackpool’s fans you’ll understand why.

In the 1950s and 60s the best-known supporter’s group was The Atomic Boys, famous for their wild pranks and colourful outfits.

Blackpool superfan Stan Bevers had formed The Atomic Boys in the 1940’s. Stan wanted a group that would really stand out on the terraces. He encouraged everyone to wear costumes. Using a contact at Madame Tussaud’s waxwork museum on Blackpool promenade he and fellow fans would dress up to take part in daring pranks.

Before the 1953 FA Cup final Stan, wearing a flowing tangerine cloak and a silver head dress, talked his way into 10 Downing Street to hand-deliver a seven-pound stick of Blackpool rock to Sir Winston Churchill.

The Atomic Boys even adopted a live duck as a mascot – it led the team out, and wandered up and down the touchline during matches.

The duck had been a gift from the actor Douglas Fairbanks Jr. The Atomic Boys had tried to attend the premiere of the star’s new film ‘Mr Drake’s Duck’. The tables were turned on them as the Hollywood star (or, more likely, his publicist) knew of The Atomic Boys’ reputation and, in view of the film’s title presented them with a duck.

With such colourful fans, it should not be a surprise that the family friendly, safe and, worst of all, bland Nolans had their work cut out to persuade the fans to adopt their song as an anthem

It was only after a match programme against Millwall on 11th September 1976 included a “Blackpool Supporters Song Sheet” that the fans started to warm to it. Although the song continues to divide supporters, it has found one fan: the Bloomfield Bear, who took over as mascot after The Atomic Boys’ duck retired. Today, he can often be seen dancing to it before kick-off.

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The Sound of Football: Blackburn Rovers (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

Blackburn Rovers

Nickname: Rovers

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!

(Source: trad.)

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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