The best and worst football records: A history of the 7" single

Planet Sport's John Nicholson takes you through the history of the football single including the best and worst efforts from international and club sides.

In the week that there was a confected controversy about England's 1996 'Three Lions' song being banned at the World Cup by the FA as part of some woke agenda.

It wasn't, of course, it was just rubbish The Sun had made up, as per usual.

But it was a reminder that football and more specifically, football clubs, have a long history of making records.

As the music industry grew in the 60s and early 70s, so did the amount of football records. There was a good trade in LP recordings of cup final commentaries, so clubs decided to release records to coincide with cup final appearances and World Cups.

In 1970 England's 'Back Home' was perhaps the classic football 7" single. It's the only such record to top the charts and set the tradition of the team standing in a TV studio singing it, looking like they'd rather be anywhere else doing anything else.

Look at them, all are in their 20s but all look in their 40s.

They followed this up with this rather apologetic 1982 effort.

And 1986's desultory 'We've Got The Whole World At Our Feet' when it turned out Maradona had it in his hand.

But all was redeemed by 'World In Motion'. Still the finest record with footballers sing/shouting on, play it now and the hairs will still stand up on the back of your neck.

Scotland's World Cup Squads have had three hits including this shudderingly heinous effort led by John Gordon Sinclair, with some of the squad behind him. He was hot at the time, post-Gregory's Girl.

It actually sold enough to get to #5.

The best & worst club singles

Onto clubs. This may have been the first record to include a football teams' players. In 1964 a single (7" round plastic thing with a song on each side) was released by Ronnie Hilton And The Leeds United Players* called 'A Tribute To Leeds United F.C. (Promotion Year 1963/64)' Did they really play a 2-3-5 system?

And Ronnie did it again with another single 1968 'Glory, Glory Leeds United' and with Leeds once more in 1972 with the imaginatively called 'Leeds United' and a perky wee number it is too, albeit, as many of these songs are, somewhat hagiographic.

One of the most successful and persistent club records was Chelsea's 'Blue Is The Colour' which I thought I recalled being released for the 1970 cup final but research reveals it was released in 1972 to mark their appearance in the League Cup final against Stoke City.

Produced by Larry Page who did a lot of these records and had been The Kinks manager, it got to #5 on the chart and even though they lost the final 3-2, it is still sung today. The amount of man made fibres in this video is dangerous.

In 1997 Madness frontman and blues fan Suggs made 'Blue Day' with the team looking anything from over-excited (Dennis Wise looks especially annoying), to terrified, to awkward behind him, in what is undeniably an all expenses spared video.

Also in 1972 Manchester City released 'Boys In Blue' b/w 'Funky City' written by half of 10CC and recorded at their studios and it wasn't even to mark being in a cup final.

Maybe it put them off their game, as they threw away a four point lead at the top of the First Division in March. It's standard fare but with some nice flute.

Liverpool's Anfied Rap

Liverpool FC are one of the most prolific 7" releasers starting in 1972 with the risible 'Sing A Song For Liverpool' and others that sunk without a trace such as 'We Love The Kop', 'We Can Do It' , Hail To The Kop', 'Liverpool (we're never gonna stop)' 1984's 'Liverpool (anthem)' b/w 'Paisley Crazy' sung by 'The Fans' available on red vinyl. 

There was also 'Sitting On Top Of The World' and 'Pride of Merseyside'. All of which brings us to 1988's 'Anfield Rap'.

One of the best remembered popular musical traumas, it remains very influential in that even now it seems to be the clunky template followed by companies who feel using something they think is rap in an advert makes them look modern.

But at least it didn't take itself seriously and in that, was a new departure and who wouldn't want to see the current squad revive this?

Co-written by former Middlesbrough player Craig Johnston it got to #3 on the charts, not that it helped them beat Wimbledon in the cup final.

1996's 'Pass & Move (It's The Liverpool Groove)' featured the boys attempting self-deprecation but failing to capture the same magic. Not quite as sound as a pound.

Arsenal, Man Utd & Forest

Arsenal's recording career began in 1932 with a 10" shellac marking their 2-1 FA Cup over Newcastle. In 1971 'Good Old Arsenal' was released.

A classic lads in jumpers and slacks shouter it got to #16, there were several other singles "Shouting for the Gunners" with Tippa Irie and Peter Hunnigale reached number 34 in the early 90s, but they had to wait until 1998 for a top 10 hit when 'Hot Stuff' got to #9 helped by an enthusiastic Wrighty.

Manchester United got into the record business early with 1967's 7" United! United. The B-Side 'The Red and Whites' is still sang at Old Trafford, apparently. Their big hit was 'Glory, Glory Man United' from 1983 which climbed to #13.

Nottingham Forest humiliated themselves to make a record with Agadoo merchants Paper Lace. 'We Got The Whole World In Our Hands' was released in 1978 and they even recorded a video of themselves miming to it and kicking a ball around on a freezing cold day.

It made #24 and stayed on the charts for six weeks. Lord save us.

Spurs lean on Chas n Dave

And then there's Spurs who have a long history in this business.

Their debut record was a 1967 EP 'The Spurs Go Marching On' where they were backed by the band Timebox who had a big hit that year with the Four Season's 'Beggin' produced by Norman Smith who was Pink Floyd's producer. Cool. It was all downhill from there.

1973's 'Hot Spurs Boogie' which sounds like something by Foghat, crashed and burned but the Chas n Dave written & produced cockernee knees up, 'Ossie's Dream' complete with trembly knees topped out at #5 and persists in the popular imagination.

C & D returned with two more Spurs singles but none climbed the snowy peak of the first.

Hammers blowing bubbles

Other clubs that released singles include West Ham whose record was merely the team singing the song that the fans already sang. This was pointless unless you wanted to hear Billy Bonds trying to sing but making a noise like a wounded animal.

Middlesbrough had a #44 hit in 1997 with 'Let's Dance' featuring Bob Mortimer and Chris Rea along with players looking sheepish at being involved at all. You will note it does not feature Chris Rea cracking an egg into a bath.

In 1995 Everton had a #24 hit with a reworking of The Farm's 'All Together Now' which wasn't a crime against noise.

This was an improvement on their other bog standard jumper 'n' slacks affairs in the 80s and this 1985 Cup Final song performed in extremely flammable leisurewear on the Wogan show. Reidy already looks 59 despite being just 29.

Samller clubs get involved

But it doesn't stop with the big clubs. Oh no. If you're looking for something more hipster, how about Norwich City's 1982 promotion celebration disc, 'Something To Shout About' which came with a cover that looks like a junior school project.

Then you've got West Bromwich Albion - 'Albion Day', Coventry City F.C.- 'Jimmy Hill's Sky Blues', Peterborough United Players with The Graham Walker Showband's surely Yoda inspired 'Posh, We Are'. Mansfield Town F.C. Players released - 'Mansfield Magic' surely the only time those two words have been placed together, while York City knocked out the hardly original 'Here We Go,' a chant popular with rowdy sunburnt English tourists in Marbella swimming pools in the 80s and 90s.

Charlton, Brentford, Wrexham, Hartlepool, Plymouth, Patrick Thistle, Bradford City and Burton Albion have all made records, in fact, if you look into your club history, whichever team you support, at some point it's likely they'll have made, what we used to call, a waxing, quite probably to massive indifference of the public and maximum embarrassment for all the players.

Other efforts include Leyton Orient's 1974 offering 'Football, Football', Hibernian's 1988 release 'Hibs Heroes', Sheffield Wednesday's 'We Are The Owls from 1985 or Wimbledon's 'The Don's Song' (1987).

The demise of the club record

Clubs still release songs as downloads. Everton's 'Spirit Of The Blues' was resurrected from 1984 as a download for a couple of weeks in October 2020 and was released by the club on vinyl too. It charted at #65 for a week.

But the widespread fashion for football clubs releasing songs seems to have faded with the days of the navy blue Pringle sweater and grey Farah slacks.

They'd be bad for the footballers' brand and their agents would probably want paying, besides which there's no money in the sales and after listening to these, you may think this trend is all for the best.

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