Striking a chord
Football and music seem a good fit for each other, says Johnny Phillips, but the lyrics hold the key.
Last Updated: 05/09/11 10:30am
One of the trickier jobs on Soccer Saturday each week is choosing the music for the opener - the montage of footage used to introduce the programme.
This task is generally left to whoever is making the piece but it's not unusual for the producer to open the floor to suggestions from the office. A good track can make all the difference and it's important to grab the attention of the audience at the start of each show.
Music polarises opinion and with the age range of our production staff it's not uncommon for a heated debate to ensue every time a track is put forward.
Our assistant producer Caroline Eccles reserves a pathological loathing for Abba which I've never quite understood. Ok, they're not everyone's cup of tea but there's worse out there.
On the other hand there are those of us forever trying to peddle our favourites, so I'm never averse to under-laying a piece with a choice offering from The Chemical Brothers. You get the picture. And that's before our presenter has weighed in with his favourites from the 50s and 60s...
Football and music have always seemed a good fit for each other. By that statement I'm obviously excepting the myriad of FA Cup Final and World Cup songs produced by actual football teams down the years - that's one for another column, preferably written by someone else.
There are plenty of bands out there who are only too happy to fly their club's colours. Most famously Oasis and Kaiser Chiefs spring to mind in the contemporary era whilst everyone is aware of Elton John's love of Watford. It was football that inspired The Farm's biggest hit 'All Together Now' which recalls the World War One truce of 1914 when Allied and German troops along the Western Front put down their arms on Christmas Day and played a game with each other.
Billy Bragg's 'God's Footballer' is about Wolves striker Peter Knowles who, in 1970, turned his back on a successful career to become a Jehovah's Witness.
Bragg is a Crystal Palace fan but musical followers of the old gold down the years include Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant, who is now on the board at Molineux, and Edward Elgar. At the turn of the 20th century the classical composer regularly made the 60-mile round trip from his Worcester home to follow Wolves and could well lay claim to being football's first ever celebrity fan, although as far as I'm aware he never penned any odes to his team.
My own favourite football lyricists are Birkenhead's finest Half Man Half Biscuit. The avid Tranmere Rovers fans often refused to perform on Friday nights as they clashed with home matches at Prenton Park in the 1980s and early 90s. Their debut single The Trumpton Riots had a B-side which has gained in legend down the years. 'All I Want For Christmas Is A Dukla Prague Away Kit' charts the pains of a schoolboy suffering at the hands of a playground rival who'd acquired the illusive strip for his Subbuteo team.
Whilst Friday night football and Subbuteo have all but disappeared from view, music continues to reference the beautiful game with tracks like Glasvegas's 'Flowers and Football Tops' and Catatonia's 'Do You Believe In Me?' which opens up with the line "I'm Andy Cole's tortured soul, lost again in front of goal." That always struck me as a bit harsh for a player who scored over 250 career goals. I wonder what they'd have made of Robert Rosario.
Today's players seem increasingly keen to get in on the act too. Florent Malouda has founded his own charity music festival called One Love. Wayne Rooney and Andy Carroll spent part of their summer at Glastonbury, although sadly not with each other, and last week Joey Barton tweeted from Creamfields where he said the highlight of his weekend was The Chemical Brothers set. The lad's got taste.