Oct 06


FT + Popular80 comments • 15,702 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. 51
    Caledonianne on 16 Jul 2007 #

    Marcello is right. This is bilge. 1970 was the last time wee Scots boys would collect England world cup medals. After the 1974 General Elections even Esso wouldn’t be so crass.

  2. 52
    lesley rees on 21 Aug 2007 #

    I live in perth western australia and I would like to know if anyone can tell me where I can get the song back home from.Please email me back if anyone knows where I can buy it from,whether it is in england or australia.

  3. 53
    wichita lineman on 24 Mar 2009 #

    First football hit alert: the latest edition in the British Hit Parade series, 1958, includes Manchester United Calypso by Edric Connor. Not in the Guinness book as it only charted in Melody Maker. It is a strangely upbeat tribute to the club in the wake of the Munich air disaster. Lyrics include “A bunch of bouncing Busby babes” (quite) and “they deserve to be knighted” (prescient).

    Edric has a voice that sounds like a Trinidadian Edmund Hockridge. He arrived in Britain in ’44 and was a regular on BBC radio, according to the sleevenotes, “presenting calypsos and Caribbean folk songs. In 1951 he organised a variety of performances for the Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra while they were in London for the Festival of Britain.”

  4. 54
    Erithian on 24 Mar 2009 #

    Wichita – According to http://www.bestoftrinidad.com/profiles/edricconnor.html
    he recorded the United Calypso in 1956, the year the Babes won their first League title and two years before Munich. Edric Connor was apparently the first black actor in the Royal Shakespeare Company, which is quite a landmark.

    From the real thing to a skilled imitator: Lance Percival was famed for his calypsos on “That Was The Week That Was”, and in 1979 guested on BBC’s “Sports Report” on Cup Final day, writing and performing a calypso about the match (Arsenal 3 United 2) so rapidly that I heard it on the radio while sitting on the coach in the car park at Wembley!

  5. 55
    wichita lineman on 24 Mar 2009 #

    Thanks Erithian, that makes more sense. It must have charted in sympathy with the decimated United team’s amazing FA Cup run, all the way to the final.

    Odd how Edric’s name isn’t better known… not to Horsham-born me, anyway.

  6. 56
    lonepilgrim on 24 Mar 2009 #

    re 55 Hey WL I’m also Horsham-born

  7. 57
    Waldo on 4 Sep 2009 #

    Yep, the Esso coin collection. Happy Days!

    I loved Erithian’s breakdown way upthread of what might have happened back home (see what I did there?) had Banksy played instead of Catty against the Krauts. Catty? – Peter Bonetti from my beloved Chelsea, who admittedly had a stinker, as did Brian Labone, the centre half from Everton who stood like a statue when Muller hooked in the winner. At school, all Chelsea supporters were vilified. If West Ham had won the World Cup in ’66 (Moore, Hurst, Peters), Chelsea had lost it in Mexico. It was also outragious fortune for Bonetti, a goalkeeper of true world class and a lovely bloke too, to be largely remembered for that one game. Painful memories for nine year-old Waldo, then, but nothing to compare with v Poland, Wembley 1973, when the whole sky fell in.

    As for “Back Home”, to be blunt, it’s just a novelty record just like any other. One thing to be remembered perhaps is that England were, of course, World Champions going out to defend their crown with a far superior squad than had won it. The fact that they failed was directly due to the German game and Ramsey’s woeful substitutions but ultimately to the genius of the immortal Brazilian winners, who wound up the 4-1 victory in the final against a magnificent Italian side with Carlos Alberto’s wonder goal, which I still maintain is the greatest I have ever seen.

  8. 58
    Erithian on 17 Dec 2010 #

    As Waldo has reminded me, today we’ve lost one of the band but not one of the squad. Ralph Coates of Burnley (later of Spurs) was awarded the first of his four England caps against Northern Ireland in April 1970, and sang on “Back Home”, but wasn’t included in Sir Alf’s final party to actually go to Mexico. So he was part of “The England World Cup Squad” but wasn’t part of the England World Cup Squad. Which is almost as sad a fate as Pete Best’s when you think about it.

    RIP to football’s second most famous comb-over.

    (While I’m here – Waldo, the Carlos Alberto goal was scored with Brazil already 3-1 up four minutes from time against a beaten Italian side knackered from extra-time in their semi-final v West Germany. In other words, the tackles weren’t exactly flying in and you have to take that into account in measuring the quality of the goal.)

  9. 59
    Tom on 17 Dec 2010 #

    Is this thread revival also a little poke at me to finish the next entry, sitting on the servers half-done while I wrap other Xmas/end of year things up? ;)

  10. 60
    flahr on 17 Dec 2010 #

    You can finish writing it if you try. Come on, Tom, express yourself ;)

  11. 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.

  12. 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!

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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!

  17. 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.

  18. 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?”

  19. 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!

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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….

  24. 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.

  25. 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)”

  26. 76

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

  27. 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.

  28. 78
    Jimmy the Swede on 10 Aug 2013 #

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

  29. 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.

  30. 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.

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