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
Nickname: The Blues
Ground: Stamford Bridge
Stadium Capacity: 41,837
Songs: Zigger Zagger/One Man Went To Mow
No one bans vegetables – not when you need five a day for healthy eating. Yet, that’s precisely what happened when Chelsea played Sparta Prague in the Champions League in 2012/13.
Before the game, the UK government warned Chelsea supporters that they could not bring drinks, poles, flares, weapons or CELERY into Sparta Prague’s stadium. This was not a random decision. Celery had been thrown at Stamford Bridge for many years, accompanied by a saucy chant. But, in 2007, Chelsea banned it after the Football Association launched an investigation following several instances of celery being thrown on the pitch. Five years later, the UK government had no choice but to follow the FA’s lead when it issued instructions to Chelsea’s travelling support. Celery was banned.
While no one knows precisely how the celery throwing started, most people suspect just one man: legendary Chelsea supporter Micky Greenaway.
“I have found more vocal support away from home because there is not the atmosphere at the Bridge for shouting for the Blues. If everyone capable of cheering would shout powerfully at every home game (especially early on in the game), then Chelsea will know they have supporters on the terraces, and Chelsea would be inspired by such support” Greenaway writing in the match programme for Chelsea’s match with Workington, December 1964.
Micky Greenaway was born in the shed. Not literally. That would make him Jesus. But ‘The Shed’: Chelsea’s south stand and home to its hardcore supporters. He was a larger than life character, often dressed in pinstripes while carrying a briefcase, even though he was not a businessman.
He was born just a few streets from Stamford Bridge in 1945, brought up by a Chelsea loving stepfather, and made the club’s mascot when just nine years old. By the time he was a man, he was a devoted fan, and all through the 60s, 70s and 80s, he would lead the Chelsea fans in song. When the fans were quiet, he would sing even louder to encourage them to join in.
Greenaway even encouraged supporters to join together in the Fulham Road Stand at Stamford Bridge. He christened it the Tram Shed, now known as just the Shed so that they could rival the atmosphere created by Liverpool’s fans in The Kop at Anfield.
Greenaway started many of the songs Chelsea sing today in the Shed, including the ‘Zigger Zagger’, derived from the ‘oggie, oggie, oggie’ chant.
In his booming voice, he would bark out the call, and the crowd would reply:
“Zigger zagger, zigger zagger, (oi, oi, oi,)
Zigger zagger, zigger zagger, (oi, oi, oi,)
Zigger zagger, zigger zagger, (oi, oi, oi!)“
(Source: fan chant)
Greenaway also led supporters in singing ‘One Man Went To Mow’. At first, it was a joke, a tape he brought to soundtrack a pre-season tour of Sweden in 1981. For a laugh, the fans on tour started singing along whenever the tape was played. They sang it again for Chelsea’s pre-season game against Exeter when they returned home to remind them of the Swedish tour. Other fans picked it up, and by the end of the season, it was heard at home games. When Chelsea won the Champions League in 2012, 60,000 fans sang along to the club’s unofficial anthem.
Micky Greenaway died in 1999. The 90s were not kind to him. He was named in the News Of The World as leader of a Chelsea firm (gang) and accused of organising riots. Although many say he was not involved, the club banned him from Stamford Bridge, he lost his job and never worked again.
It was a devastating blow for a man who once wrote to the club to implore fans not to swear during games.
“I wish to reply on behalf of the ‘Shed’ regarding all the things that have been said in the press recently about Chelsea supporters. First, let me say that I personally have made persistent attempts to curb the bad language that has been used at various matches, and there is now a crowd of us who will stamp this out with our own methods. There will be no need to persist with the use of Special Branch detectives in plain clothes mingling with the crowd,” Greenaway wrote in the club programme in October 1966.
Greenaway never saw the club he loved transformed by Russian billions. He never saw them lift the Premiership trophy or find success in the Champions League. Perhaps he wouldn’t recognise the club Chelsea has become. A club that once was feared but now bans celery. Greenaway died penniless and alone in a bedsit in Catford; buried today in a pauper’s grave, forgotten by most but remembered by all in voice and song.
Buy the Sound of Football from Amazon.