Oct 06


FT + Popular83 comments • 18,443 views

#286, 16th May 1970


It wasn’t the first football record by a long way, but “Back Home” ticks all the genre’s traditional boxes. Rousing tune graspable by fans between 8 and 80 – yes. Heavy involvement by actual players – yes. Doughty message of hope – oh yes.

This last was a slight twist on the football songs of the 60s, generally knocked out around Cup Final time (though the Cup Final song’s 70s and 80s heyday postdates “Back Home”). In a Cup Final the odds of victory are greater so the tone of the song can be more triumphant, presenting the team as an unstoppable machine destined to win. At the start of a World Cup campaign – even this World Cup campaign, which England began as defending champions and with a squad apparently thought superior to the ’66 team – hubris is to be avoided, so the team songs tend to be a little more humble, stressing effort not achievement. “Back Home”, with its emphasis on heroic and selfless scrapping, certainly fits this bill.

The song’s particular pivot though is the gap, and the link, between the team and the fans watching in England. This neatly touches on something exciting about the 1970 world cup. The England team had travelled to South America before, but only in the pre-Telstar days of radio broadcast. Now the “folks back home” would watch colour pictures, beamed live from the other side of the world (well, Mexico), at a time when the booming travel industry was bringing exotic locations tantalisingly closer. For good measure, the 1970 squad’s Mexican adventure fell foul of some familiar foes of Brits abroad – dodgy tummies and run-ins with local law enforcement – but some of what makes “Back Home” charming is the vicarious thrill of travel.



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  1. 61
    Waldo on 18 Dec 2010 #

    Yeah, Tom. That must be it. Ralph Coates timed his death just to wind you up!

    Erithian – Quite true about Carlos Alberto’s goal. It still looks special each time I see it, though, and dear old Kenneth Wolstenholme was far from unimpressed.

  2. 62
    enitharmon on 18 Dec 2010 #

    Yes, come on, this principessa is bloody fredda in her stanza, watching the stars.

    Dilegua, o notte! Tramontate, stelle! Tramontate, stelle! All’alba vincerò!

  3. 63
    enitharmon on 18 Dec 2010 #

    Incidentally, even without Ralph Coates the 1970 England squad has fared less well than the 1966 squad, Brian Labone and Keith Newton having succumbed in addition to Bobby Moore and Alan Ball.

  4. 64
    Waldo on 19 Dec 2010 #

    # 63 – Re the ’70 squad: My own great Chelsea hero, Peter “The King” Osgood, is also back in the pavilion, of course. As is Emlyn Hughes, who made the 22 but didn’t get a game, I don’t think.

  5. 65
    wichita lineman on 28 Dec 2010 #

    Just had a blinding revelation on this one. The super-compressed production, more 1960 than 1970 and rather Meek-y, is intended to sound as if it’s coming over the tannoy, echoing around the terraces of a pre-Taylor report football ground. Cut in mono, its odd soup of echoes and reverbs have given it an edge over most football records for me.

    Ralph Coates was the subject of a letter in When Saturday Comes just a couple of months back. He was born in Hetton-le-Hole, Co. Durham, and the writer suggested that, as this is the only fact anyone knows about the place, there must be a Ralph Coates Avenue there, or a Ralph Coates Theatre, or maybe a Ralph Coates Museum of Modern Art.

    In part as a tribute to Ralph (who seems like a lovely man on youtube footage), I’m planning a motoring holiday next summer from Hetton-le-Hole to Hutton-le-Hole. One looks like the arse end of nowhere, the other is a spectacularly beautiful village.

  6. 66
    Waldo on 29 Dec 2010 #

    65 – I think that there must be a fair chance of a tribute to Ralph being instigated in his birth place now that he has thrown a seven, although his finest career moment was probably when he was playing for southern softies Tottenham when he scored the winner in the 1973 League Cup Final against Norwich. Ralph galloped in to slam an unstoppable shot past Pakistani-born ‘keeper Kevin Keelan. Yep, a comb-over great was Coatesy. God love him!

  7. 67
    Billy Smart on 29 Dec 2010 #

    Has anyone else here read ‘The Glory Game’, Hunter Davis’ classic behind-the-scenes account of the 1971/2 season at Spurs? Coates comes across quite sympathetically in that account, as a modest man trying to fulfill the expectations of a star signing. Alan Mullery, however, comes over as an intolerable bighead.

  8. 68
    Waldo on 31 Dec 2010 #

    #67 – Yes indeed, Billy. “The Glory Game” is a classic of the period. It was, as you imply, Coates’ first season at Tottenham after his transfer from Burnley and the season when Cloughie’s Derby, an unfashionable team of nobodies, won the title. The book had an index, where the squad answered a set of questions. One concerned voting attitudes. Many answered this with “Tory but not really interested.” The only one who seemed to buck the trend was a young Steve Perriman, who said: “Labour…Aren’t all the players Labour?”

  9. 69
    Lena on 18 Apr 2012 #

    On a quest of their own: http://musicsoundsbetterwithtwo.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/heroic-kludge-moody-blues-question.html Merci for reading, everyone!

  10. 70
    DanH on 12 Jan 2013 #

    This song denied the best Moody Blues song ever a spot at #1, and thusly denying the Hayward-Lodge lineup a #1. Boo.

  11. 71
    wichita lineman on 12 Jan 2013 #

    Ooh, spooky. Listening to Our Children’s Children’s Children and saw this… I knew there had to be a really solid Moody Blues album and I think this is it. Mellotrons, lyrics about space travel, more mellotrons, very good.

  12. 72
    Jimmy the Swede on 14 Jan 2013 #

    #70 – Yes, Dan. The blocking of “Question” was indeed a tragedy. A truly brilliant record by the Moodies. A mini masterpiece.

  13. 73
    Mark G on 14 Jan 2013 #

    It actually has helped it, being number 2, as it hasn’t been overplayed and eventually hated, as “Nights in white satin” has….

  14. 74
    Jimmy the Swede on 15 Jan 2013 #

    “Nights in White Satin” wasn’t number one either, though. And I for one have never hated it. In fact I actually bought it when it was re-released in 1972. I agree, however, that “Question” hasn’t indeed been overplayed and that when it does get a spin they tend to cut it, which is monstrous.

  15. 75
    Mark G on 15 Jan 2013 #

    I knew that, but had “Question” made it, it might have been. Instead, I got it at a jumble sale in a bunch of singles that had been kept in nice poly lined cardboard sleeves (not disintegrated), along with “I’m just a singer in a R&R band” and others.

    NIWS is in the pile along with “Whiter shade of pale” of “Singles I never much liked (Deram)”

  16. 76

    […] ENGLAND WORLD CUP SQUAD 1970 – “Back Home” | … click here … […]

  17. 77
    weej on 16 Jun 2013 #

    This just came up in the mp3 shuffle and I had a proper listen to it for the first time – so, some thoughts.

    1. I know the song primarily as the theme tune to Fantasy Football League. Which makes me wonder how many other jokes I missed.
    2. The squad themselves are as good or bad as you’d expect – but the brass section behind them (especially their production) sounds utterly 1960s in a very un-hip way. How different would this backing have sounded if produced in any other year? I’d venture the vocals wouldn’t change much.
    3. Thanks to Erithian at #8 I’ve just spent ten minutes finding the Gordon Banks / Enoch Powell alternative history and the best part of a day reading it. I can save everyone the ten minutes by pointing you here – http://web.archive.org/web/20070301223917/http://www.btinternet.com/~chief.gnome/ – it’s a good read if you know enough about British politics in the 70s and 80s.

  18. 78
    Jimmy the Swede on 10 Aug 2013 #

    Good luck to Charlotte Green,
    If you know what I mean.

  19. 79
    Jimmy the Swede on 20 Dec 2015 #

    May I record here a tribute to dear old Jimmy Hill who has gloved one after a protracted illness. A fun figure for many (which he sometimes was as a pundit), he made an huge mark on the game itself and essentially realized that the most important people in the game were the fans. That credo certainly doesn’t apply to many at the head of the game today. RIP, Jimmy and chin-chin!

    SPOTY might be worth a special look tonight, especially if one particular candidate is interviewed by Clare Balding.

  20. 80
    lonepilgrim on 25 Oct 2017 #

    My Dad wasn’t a football fan so I missed out on the highs and lows of following a team (both local and National). However, as my Grandad worked for Esso, I did get the full set of commemorative coins mentioned upthread. I do remember feeling a mild sense of outrage when Bobby Moore was accused of theft but that’s all I can remember from the time. The tune has a Gang Show vibe about it with the ‘enthusiastic’ male voices belting out the lyrics. Enjoyable for nostalgic reasons but not for much more.

  21. 81
    Lazarus on 12 Feb 2019 #

    RIP Gordon Banks. I was never that much into it, but the 1970 WC is probably my earliest sporting memory.

  22. 82
    Natacha on 5 May 2021 #

    In June 1970 England’s 22-man squad set off to Mexico to defend the World Cup that had been won so memorably atWembley 4 years earlier. Comfortable, if uninspiring, 1 0 wins over Rumania and Czechoslovakia sandwiched a defeat to the eventual champions Brazil by the same score in a classic match widely regarded as one of the technically finest soccer matches ever played. The points gained ensured passage to a quarter-final against West Germany where, improbably, the team blew a 2 0 lead and contrived to lose 3 2 after extra time.

  23. 83
    Gareth Parker on 30 May 2021 #

    Not much to add here, I feel Tom’s 4/10 is on the money.

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