Category Archives: The Sound of Football

The Sound of Football: Cove Rangers/Berwick Rangers (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


Nickname: The Blue Brazil

Ground: Central Park

Stadium Capacity: 4,309

Song: The Coo (Cow) Song

Cowdenbeath’s nickname is the Blue Brazil. It’s an unusual name, and its origin can be traced back to a Scottish Cup tie against Stranraer.

Usually, Cowdenbeath plays in blue strips. Typically, it’s known more for hitting and hoofing than step-overs and intricate passing. However, according to fans at the match, the team that day was playing some “silky stuff“. One fan was so impressed he shouted out, “C’mon the silky blues“. Another shouted out “C’mon the super blues” before a third added “C’MON THE BLUE BRAZIL!” A stunned silence followed – earth-shattering hyperbole can do that to a stadium – along with a 3 – 1 victory, and the nickname’s stuck ever since.

Cowdenbeath was formed in 1880 by James and John Pollock, who had one claim to fame: they had the only football in Cowdenbeath. As the official history notes: the brothers were originally from Ayrshire, on the west coast of Scotland, and had learnt to play football there. When they moved to Cowdenbeath on the east coast, they discovered no one played football. Their mother went to Glasgow to buy them a ball, so they could keep playing.

The official history of Cowdenbeath records that her son Davie said in 1952:

Mither decided that we’d got tae hae a ba’ so she went tae Glesgae and brocht ane back. That ba’ was really the start o’ footba’ here.”

(Mother decided that’s we had to have a ball, so she went to Glasgow and brought one back. That ball was really the start of football here.)

Sadly, Mrs Pollock didn’t also bring another part of their Ayrshire heritage: classic poetry. The most famous son of Ayr is Robbie Burns, Scotland’s national poet. Instead, Cowdenbeath fans sing a song based on Scotland’s other national poet, William Topaz McGonagall, considered the worst poet in the world.

McGonagall was born in 1825 and wrote almost 200 poems, all of them awful. He was such a poor poet; audiences would throw rotten fish at him as he performed. But, despite dying penniless in 1902, his poems have become celebrated, if not for the right reasons.

At Cowdenbeath, in Central Park, fans sing one poem in particular – ‘The Coo Song’ (The Cow Song).

There was a coo, on yonder hill.

There was a coo, on yonder hill.

It’s not there, it must’ve shifted.

There was a coo on yonder hill.

(Source: terrace chant)

Robbie Burns, it is not.

It’s worth noting that William McGonagall was a teetotaller and a great supporter of the temperance movement. Robbie Burns loved drinking. So, if you want to write poetry, better order a double.

Buy the Sound of Football from Amazon.

The Sound of Football: Cove Rangers/Berwick Rangers (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

Cove Rangers/Berwick Rangers

Nickname: The Wee Rangers

Ground: Balmoral Stadium

Stadium Capacity: 2600

Song: None!

We’ve tried fan forums (couldn’t find one), emailed supporters (no one answered), checked fan chant websites (all listed ‘zero songs’), and we’ve begged online for leads, but we’ve drawn a blank. Cove Rangers, one of Scotland’s newest clubs, having joined the league in 2018 after a 7 – 0 aggregate playoff victory against Berwick Rangers, has no songs. Please let us know if you know a Cove Rangers fan or have ever heard them sing. Instead, let’s look at the team they replaced: Berwick Rangers, though their musical legacy is not much stronger. 

Berwick Rovers was one of the few clubs in the SPFL that neither played music when the team walked out or after the team scored, and we’re indebted to the Berwick Supporters Trust for confirming that there’s no official song for Berwick Rangers, saving many hours looking for pieces that don’t exist.

It’s not surprising that Berwick Rangers has no official song when you learn that its hometown of Berwick-upon-Tweed is still at war with Russia – or, at least, it is, according to local legend and its unique position near the border between Scotland and England.

Berwick-upon-Tweed is located in England, just two and a half miles from the border with Scotland, yet, Berwick Rangers play in the Scottish Professional Football League. A discrepancy came about due to a lack of local English teams to play against, leading to it facing teams in the Scottish borders instead.

The fact that Berwick-upon-Tweed is in England meant Berwick Rangers was the only team in the Scottish leagues required to implement the Taylor report in 1989, which followed the Hillsborough disaster. The report required all clubs in England & Wales to have all-seated stadiums. As Berwick-upon-Tweed is an English town, the club had to comply even though Rovers play in Scotland.

The town has had an equally confusing history, being, at times, either English or Scottish depending on where the border between the two countries was drawn. The Treaty of Everlasting Peace (between Scotland and England in 1502) stated that Berwick-upon-Tweed was ‘of England’ but not ‘in England’. This led to Berwick-upon-Tweed being mentioned separately from Scotland and England in Acts of Parliament. A separation that led to its continuing war with Russia.

In 1853, Britain’s declared war against Russia. The declaration referred to England, Scotland and Berwick-upon-Tweed. However, the 1856 Treaty of Paris that ended hostilities never mentioned Berwick-upon-Tweed. Because Berwick-upon-Tweed wasn’t mentioned, locals say that the market town of 25,000 people must still be at war with Russia as it never declared a ceasefire. And, as we know what Russia thinks of musicians, following its treatment of Pussy Riot, perhaps Berwick Rangers is playing it safe and not choosing any music in case it offends Vladimir Putin, and he decides to invade?

Berwick does have unofficial songs. Berwick supporter Michael Smyth provided us with lyrics to two songs that celebrate the club’s stadium and surrounding streets. We include both songs below. In the first song, “The Grove” and “The Harrow” are pubs that flank Shielfield Park. While, in the second, the reference to “Shielfield Road” is a bit of artistic licence – Berwick’s ground is actually off Shielfied Terrace. Perhaps this is an attempt to confuse Vladamir Putin if he ever restarts hostilities?

To the tune of Molly Malone:

In Berwick’s fair city

Where the girls are so s***y

I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone

As she wheeled her wheelbarrow

From The Grove to The Harrow

Shouting B-E-R-W-I-C-K


(Source: unknown)

To the tune of Blaydon Races (see Newcastle United)

Aw me lads, you ought tae see them gannin’

Gannin’ along the Shieifield Road

Just as we were stannin’

All the lads and lasses there

See their smilin’ faces

Gannin’ alang the Shielfield Road

… Tae see the BERWICK RANGERS!”

(Source: unknown)

Buy the Sound of Football from Amazon.

The Sound of Football: Coventry 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

Coventry City

Nickname: The Sky Blues

Ground: Ricoh Arena (subject to dispute and games in 2019/20 were played at St Andrews, Birmingham)

Stadium Capacity: 32,604

Song: The Sky Blue Song

Cinderella is the proverbial rags to riches story, but Coventry City must be one of the ugly sisters as it’s suffered the reverse – a riches to rags story.

The club spent 34 consecutive seasons in the topflight before relegation in 2001. It was a founding member of the Premier League but has since stumbled from one financial problem to another, culminating in further relegation. It suffered through administration, and due to a dispute with its stadium owners, the club even started 2013/14 playing its home games in Northampton rather than in the Ricoh Arena in Coventry after being locked out of its ground.

It’s been a long time since the success of the ‘The Sky-Blue Revolution’ of the 1960s when the legendary Jimmy Hill became manager.

Jimmy has had every job possible in football except professional WAG. He was a player, union leader, coach, manager, director, chairman, television executive, presenter, analyst and match official. His first managerial role was at Coventry, where he orchestrated the Sky Blue Revolution. He changed the home kit’s colours to sky blue, coined the nickname the ‘Sky Blues’, and penned the club’s song ‘The Sky Blue Song’. Dulux doesn’t do football, but if they did…

‘The Sky Blue song’ was written in 1962 by Jimmy and director John Camkin. It was launched at a home game with Colchester, but the match was abandoned at halftime because of fog. Hill had the words printed in the match programme – a new invention by… you guessed it, Jimmy Hill.

The song is still sung today. In 2012 to celebrate its 50th-anniversary, members of the Coventry squad from the original Colchester game went onto the pitch at halftime and sang it with the fans.

To celebrate his achievements, a seven-foot bronze statue of Jimmy was unveiled at the stadium after £100k was raised by fans.

Buy the Sound of Football from Amazon.

The Sound of Football: Colchester United (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

Colchester United

Nickname: The U’s

Ground: Weston Homes Community Stadium

Stadium Capacity: 10,105

Song: Up The U’s

If you are interested in alternative music, then one name will immediately come to mind: Steve Lamacq.

Steve’s tireless championing of new music on his long-running shows on Radio 1 and Radio 6 Music has delivered the first UK radio exposure for Oasis, Coldplay, and every guitar band who’s emerged on the UK alternative music scene in the last 20 years. In-between attending hundreds of gigs each year, Steve has another love: Colchester FC. On 23 January 2006, he combined both passions by playing the team’s anthem ‘Up the U’s’ on Radio 1’s Evening Session.

The song is ironic: Colchester is the setting for the famous nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty. During the English Civil War, a sniper known as Humpty Dumpty, due to his large size, sat in the belfry of a church (Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall.) He was shot down (Humpty Dumpty had a great fall) and, shortly after, the town was overrun by Parliamentarians (all the king’s horses and all the king’s men/couldn’t put Humpty together again), which is why, instead of singing ‘Up the U’s, an appropriate fairy tale ending for Colchester would find them falling down the divisions.

The club has had moderate success. With a population of just over 100k, it has punched above its weight and regularly features in the top half of League 1. Its greatest achievement was a victory over Don Revie’s all-conquering Leeds United side of the 1970s. A result that put all of the Colchester players involved into the club’s player hall of fame.

The club anthem is ‘Up the U’s’, and Colchester based punk band Special Duties has recorded the song twice.

Special Duties was originally called X-pelled, but they switched names when a box of badges with “Special Duties” printed on them ‘came into their possession’. Allegedly the badges were stolen from a local Colchester school. They changed their name to fit the badges rather than print more badges with X-Pelled written on them.

Buy the Sound of Football from Amazon.

The Sound of Football: Clyde (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

Clyde FC

Nickname: The Bully Wee

Ground: Broadwood Stadium

Stadium Capacity: 8,029

Song: The Song Of The Clyde

The lyrics to Clyde’s song ‘Song Of The Clyde’ are the perfect description of what it means to be a Clyde fan. The second verse includes the lines:

I’ll follow them east, and I’ll follow them west

Tae the north or the south still it’s ‘my team’s the best.’

So come down tae [insert name of the current stadium] you’ll know I’ve not lied

When I tell you the greatest of team is the Clyde.

(Source: unknown)

Clyde’s a nomadic team, which is why we’ve written “[insert name of the current stadium]” in the above lyrics. The supporters originally sang of Shawfield Stadium in the south side of Glasgow before they relocated in 1994 to a new stadium in Cumbernauld, a town to the north of Glasgow.

In 2015 there were reports that it would be on the move again after falling out with its landlord, North Lanarkshire Council, over unpaid rent for Broadwood. This time it would move back to East Kilbride, another town to the south of Glasgow. In total, Clyde has had six grounds since it formed in 1877. However, returning closer to its original southside home will not guarantee that fans will follow. In its final season in Shawfield, Clyde averaged 940 fans a game. In Cumbernauld, it has averaged 1,100, and many of those fans may not want to travel across Glasgow to see Clyde’s new home.

While Clyde may have a small fan base today, it was once considered one of Scotland’s bigger teams. It played in the top division of Scottish football until 1976 and won the Scottish Cup in 1939, 1955 and 1958. However, the late twentieth century was not a good time to be a Clyde fan. After Clyde’s owners sold the stadium, relegation from the topflight was followed by financial problems and, ultimately, the decision to leave its home in Shawfield.

Between 1986 and 1994, Clyde shared a ground with its hated rivals Partick Thistle (imagine Manchester United sharing with Manchester City, and you’ll have a good idea what fans thought of this move) and then with Hamilton Academicals before it was persuaded to play in Cumbernauld. North Lanarkshire Council promised Clyde a purpose-built stadium. Although 6,000 people attended Clyde’s first game, 5,000 didn’t come back. The stadium’s proximity to Glasgow meant local supporters would bypass Broadwood and go straight to Ibrox and Celtic Park for their football fix. However, while talks of a move have gone quiet, the fans know one thing:

I’ll follow them East, and I’ll follow them West

Tae the North or the South still its ‘my teams the best‘”

(Source: unknown)

Buy the Sound of Football from Amazon.

The Sound of Football: Chesterfield (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


Nickname: The Spireites

Ground: The Proact Stadium

Stadium Capacity: 10,300

Song: Chesterfield Song

Everyone knows the devil has the best tunes, but for Chesterfield fan, Carl Newton, both the church and the devil inspired him to write ‘The Chesterfield Song’.

The town of Chesterfield is renowned for the famous crooked spire of the Parish Church, which twists 45 degrees and leans nearly three metres from its true centre.

A local legend explains that the spire was knocked out of shape after the devil jumped over the spire in pain after a local blacksmith miss shod his cloven feet.

Another story blames bad workmanship for those who don’t believe in legends. The Church was built during the Middle Ages. The black death had killed many skilled workers leaving only unskilled labourers to finish the spire.

Whether legend or historical fact, the spire defines the town and the club. Chesterfield even takes its nickname from the spire and is known as The Spireites.

Although the exact date the club was formed is uncertain, a team has played in the town since at least the 1880s. The club wore shirts featuring the union flag across their chest during this early period. This unusual design was thought to have come about when a local landlord discovered the shirts in one of his properties. He didn’t want to throw them out, so he donated them to the club. Unfortunately, there is no record of why these strips were made in the first place.

In 2010 the club moved to a new stadium. At its first home game, the club unfurled a championship flag which it had received after winning League 2 the previous season. Chesterfield also played the club’s new anthem: ‘The Chesterfield Song’.

Carl Newton wrote the song in honour of the club and uploaded it to YouTube. Within a couple of weeks, it had been viewed over 10k times. He was invited to the stadium to play the song, and it has since been released on iTunes, with the proceeds going to charity. The lyrics celebrate the town and its devilish spire.

From the blue and white on the football ground,

to the crooked spire of this old town.

From the blue and white on the football ground,

to the crooked spire of this our home town.


Singing, Chesterfield na na na x 6

(Source: Carl Newton)

Buy the Sound of Football from Amazon.

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.

Buy the Sound of Football from Amazon.

The Sound of Football: Chelsea (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


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, (oi,)

Zagger, (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.

The Sound of Football: Charlton Athletic (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

Charlton Athletic

Nickname: The Addicks/The Robins

Ground: The Valley

Stadium Capacity: 27,111

Song: The Valley Floyd Road

There’s something fishy about Charlton Athletic. The club is nicknamed the Addicks, which is not a corrupted form of Athletic but derived instead from ‘haddock’.

When Charlton was building its stadium, players and directors would eat fish after every match. If Charlton lost, the club would save money by eating cod. They would have splashed out on a haddock supper if the team won. As Charlton became more successful, it became known for its haddock, and it became known as the Addicks.

Although the club was formed in 1905, it was fourteen years before it could play at its ground, now known as The Valley.

The club had purchased an abandoned sand and chalk pit in the Charlton area but didn’t have the funds to develop it. Charlton supporters volunteered to help. They dug out a pit for the pitch and used the soil from the excavation to build up the sides. The ground’s name most likely comes from its original valley-like appearance.

As the club’s supporters helped build the stadium, they have a strong bond with it. This is reflected in the club song: ‘The Valley Floyd Road’ (sung to the tune of ‘Mull of Kintyre’), which includes a verse about its 14-year wait to build a home.

A version of the song was released in April 2003 by 3 Blokes From F Block and Friends, including former stars Kevin Lisbie, Claus Jensen, Mathias Svensson, and future England International Scott Parker.

The club’s greatest success (and most haddock suppers consumed) came in the 1930s under the stewardship of Jimmy Seed.

Seed had an unusual background. He fought in the First World War and had only just survived a gas attack. He led the club to successive promotions from the Third Division to the First Division. In Charlton’s first season in the top-flight, it finished runners-up. It then finished third and fourth in the final two seasons before the outbreak of the Second World War.

During the 1940’s Charlton made it to Wembley four times. Twice to contest the “war cup”, a tournament that replaced the FA Cup for the Second World War. Charlton didn’t capitalise on the success, and the club refused to invest money in new players or facilities, which meant that although Jimmy Seed ‘discovered’ England legend, Stanley Matthews, he wasn’t allowed to sign him.

Charlton has also been known as the ‘Robins’ after its red shirts, which it had originally borrowed from local rivals Arsenal to save money when it started. Charlton is not the only club to begin in a borrowed kit. Its benefactor’s Arsenal also started with borrowed kit from Nottingham Forest.

In honour of its second nickname, the team enter the Valley at every home game to the tune of the ‘Red, Red Robin’ by Billy Cotton.

Buy the Sound of Football from Amazon.

The Sound of Football: Celtic Football Club (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


Nickname: The Bhoys

Ground: Celtic Park

Stadium Capacity: 60,355

Song: The Fields Of Athenry

In 2012 Celtic celebrated its 125th anniversary.  Yet the Celtic club badge has 1888 on it. So if you do the maths, that would make the 125th anniversary… 2013, So why celebrate in 2012?

The club’s founder, Brother Walfrid, formally constituted the club at a meeting in St. Mary’s church hall in East Rose Street (now Forbes Street), Calton, Glasgow, on 6 November 1887. However, Celtic played its first match in 1888: a 5 – 2 victory against Old Firm rivals Rangers, so the badge honours this date – and the club’s 125th anniversary is 2012 and not 2013.

Brother Walfrid aimed to tackle poverty in the east end of Glasgow by using the club to raise money for his charity, the Poor Children’s Dinner Table  At that time, Glasgow had a large Irish immigrant population, and the club and charity were set up to provide a focus for help.

Today, the club still has solid Irish links, and one of the fan’s most popular songs commemorates the Irish immigration experience.

‘The Fields Of Athenry’ was written by Irish singer-songwriter Pete St John in the early 1970s. Pete St John was Irish born but had lived abroad for many years, emigrating first to Canada before moving on to Alaska, Central America, and the West Indies, where he worked as a professional athlete, truck driver, logging camp labourer, PR/Sales Official, and finally electrical contracting executive in the U.S.A.

‘The Fields of Athenry’ is a song about a fictional character called Michael, from Athenry in County Galway, Ireland  Michael is convicted and sentenced to transportation to Botany Bay, Australia because he stole food to feed his starving family. The song is set between 1845 and 1850, during the Great Irish Famine.

The song is a love song and mourns the separation between Michael and his wife Mary back in Ireland.

The Fields of Athenry is now more than just a popular Irish song. After its adoption by sports fans, it’s become an unofficial anthem for Ireland, sung by fans at rugby and football matches for teams such as Connaught and Munster alongside Celtic.

The song’s association with Celtic is partly down to the sizeable Irish-Scottish community in Glasgow, many of whom are descended from the thousands of people who went to Scotland in the 1840s to escape the famine. Among them were 15,000 famine victims who were suffering from fever.

Today, the song is regularly heard at matches along with ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone.’ Still, just as Celtic has adopted ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ from Liverpool, Liverpool has also adopted ‘The Fields of Athenry.’ With many residents of Liverpool claiming Irish heritage, it is now one of Liverpool’s most famous songs, too. And it seems fitting that a song about immigration should find a home across the Irish Sea in both Glasgow and Liverpool.

Buy the Sound of Football from Amazon.