May 14


Popular71 comments • 6,696 views

#793, 20th June 1998

lions98 The opening of “Three Lions ‘98” is a spot of justified bragging – the hopeful murmurs of the original replaced by a stadium in full cry: “It’s coming home, it’s coming home…”. In musical terms, Baddiel, Skinner and Broudie really had won the cup – a football song that had been taken up by fans as a genuine chant. It made a sequel – or rather, an update – understandably tempting.

It’s an update that has to play slightly generous games with recent history, though. The original “Three Lions” mined glorious memories of three decades to fuel bittersweet, defiant belief. The new version has two years to work with, like a football song version of the ‘difficult second album’, and its brief is to send the lads and fans off to France on a high. So while the original had World Cup victory to draw on, “Three Lions ‘98” is ultimately a song hymning a 0-0 draw at the end of a qualifying campaign. A very important, hard-fought 0-0 draw, to be sure, but a definite narrowing of focus. Where the ’96 song climaxed with a wide-eyed, heartfelt plea, “I know that was then… but it could be again”, here in its spot we get, “We can dance Nobby’s dance / We can dance it in France”. The Muse here has failed to even make the bench.

So while it might have been inevitable, “Three Lions ‘98” also shows why it was the last of its line (there is a 2010 version, but they barely updated the 1996 lyrics). Qualifying tournaments are not always easy for England, and they seem to end up needing a result in most final games, but by and large they get it. Mythologising one last-gasp qualification might work, but doing the same thing every two years? Nobody’s idea of fun. “Three Lions ‘98” stands alone as a trial at making a folk music concept – the perpetually refreshed song that changes to fit current events – work within pop. It didn’t, quite.

That doesn’t make this particular go at it a terrible record. In fact, you could argue that “Three Lions ‘98” rings truer than its parent – getting the results you need the hard way is part of the scrappy beauty of football, and deserves to be at the heart of at least one song. But it might be the wrong song. “Three Lions” was exactly the right style and sentiment for its moment – not just a tournament in England, but the Britpop era too, just as it was becoming overripe. The track had a desperate hopefulness that was almost religious – an England win, in London, at this time of all times, would complete a spell, dispel the anxiety behind the brittle busywork of Cool Britannia, make it into something real. It was nearly complete… but the spell had been broken, and “Three Lions ‘98” is the same tune brought down to earth, stripped of its extra resonance and buoyancy in a world where Britpop had been punctured, and records like this no longer felt like a typical sound for English music. Two years might not have given Baddiel and Skinner much to work with in English football terms, but in pop, Summer ’96 already seemed a very long time ago.



  1. 1
    Andrew Farrell on 19 May 2014 #

    … then as farce.

  2. 2
    lonepilgrim on 19 May 2014 #

    I’m happy to hear this again; happy if I never hear it again
    the production is a bit beefier than the original – vocals still weedy
    it’s not coming home though is it

    kudos to Andrew for letting the other shoe drop

  3. 3
    punctum on 19 May 2014 #

    There is a touch of Jolson Sings Again about the intro, which features the Euro ’96 crowd in their thousands heartily singing the “it’s coming home” refrain; it is the semi-final, and: “The crosses of St George are flying all around me,” exclaims the commentator, “Gareth Southgate – the whole of England is with you!” Gareth steps up to take the vital kick in the final penalty shootout…and misses. “Oh it’s saved!” the commentator nearly weeps. In come the familiar voices singing a familiar tune but unfamiliar words: “We still believe, we still believe”…and when they get to the entirely familiar chorus the music drives in, somehow harder and more forceful than it sounded two years previously.

    Even with this hard-retained optimism, Skinner sounds utterly desolate in the first verse with its elegy for “heroes dressed in grey…/Stay in bed, drift away/It could have been all songs in the street,” but still they rally round: “No more years of hurt!” they chant with renewed defiance. “No more need for dreaming!” The reason of course was that England had qualified for the 1998 World Cup, had been given another chance, and Baddiel and Skinner hammer this home passionately: “Ince ready for war/Gazza good as before/Shearer certain to score.”

    But the new commentary fragments in the instrumental break give the game away: “Italy nil, England nil, and we’re there in France, 1998!” They didn’t have to score, or do much of anything except defend (ironically, Alan “ready to score” Shearer did not participate in that game because of injury). And despite the fervency of hope expressed in the new “Three Lions,” it proved an apt omen; Gazza played no part in the tournament, and England did not progress beyond the last sixteen, defeated by Argentina, again in a penalty shootout (among those who missed was Paul “ready for war” Ince) – though the young Beckham’s asinine foul and subsequent sending off scarcely helped matters. The host nation, under Platini, won M Rimet’s cup and deservedly so. And despite the near-savage emphasis on that “No more years of hurt!” – and its anthemic rival, “Vin-Da-Loo,” a number two hit for the one-off aggregate Fat Les, comprised of a bizarre menagerie including the unlikely likes of Keith Allen, Alex James and Damien Hirst – there has proved to be a further decade-and-a-half of hurt. Ascribe it to a lack of fundamental courage, over-pampered egos, muddled compromise and/or England’s continued inability to win matches conclusively or score penalties…and yet I still admire the bloody-minded faith and hope which are behind both versions of “Three Lions” and which have not been obscured by fifteen further years of blood and tears.

  4. 4
    anto on 19 May 2014 #

    It was mainly because of ‘ 3 Lions ‘ that we were somewhat over-supplied with World Cup records in 1998 and 2002. These were time I now look back upon fondly as they were the last times England entered with good-natured optimism as opposed to outright hubris or witless defeatism.
    Even so ‘3 Lions 98’ has an air of kids who’ve already graduated turning up at a leavers house party and not bothering to bring their own beer and it’s presence here suggests that we’re firmly at the stage where a potted plant could go to number 1 for a one week with enough hype.
    David Baddeil wasn’t any better as a singer either.

  5. 5
    James BC on 19 May 2014 #

    Several things about this were woefully misjudged. Not least the video with its car park kickabout against Germans in wigs with ‘Kuntz’ on their back and Frank Skinner making a trophy by dipping his arm in sick.

    Still a great song, but I’d rather stick to the 96 version and forget this one.

  6. 6
    Tom on 19 May 2014 #

    #4 David Baddiel had if anything got even WORSE as a singer, though as I think I said last time, he’s fine for his ultra-low-expectations genre.

  7. 7
    thefatgit on 19 May 2014 #

    Between Tom & Punctum, all the necessary bases are covered. Excellent words from both. Which just leaves the scoring. The hope springs eternal optimism on show here elevates this to a (4).

  8. 8
    Seb Patrick on 19 May 2014 #

    I suspect I like this more than most – I like the fact that the first verse is, essentially, the conclusion to the first song’s cliffhanger, and a puncturing of all the hope that first song had (even though the rest of the song then indulges in the same false hope). It’s also, I think, a slightly better production than the original, and it DOES sound great with the added crowd singing (although the Jonathan Pearce commentary clips grate hugely, dating from before a time he’d settled down and become a passably acceptable commentator – even if he had done by then, though, none of them were iconic in the way the clips in the ’96 version were).

    What stuffs it up, really (from a thematic point of view at least), is the “I still see” section – not only did it immediately date the record (in the way the equivalent bit in the original didn’t) but two of the players namechecked didn’t even go to France. What’s easy to miss, of course, is that in each case they’re referring to moments from Euro ’96 (plus Ince from the qualifiers) rather than predicting how things will go in ’98; but still, with the possible exception of “Psycho screaming”, none of them are – again – iconic and instantly-recallable moments the way the original track’s were.

    Also, yeah, the video was terrible.

  9. 9
    Tom on 19 May 2014 #

    Also #4 ” it’s presence here suggests that we’re firmly at the stage where a potted plant could go to number 1 for a one week with enough hype”

    I don’t know if it supports your argument or weakens it, but this song’s first-week sales beat either of the original’s weeks at #1. (And TL98 was #1 for three on the trot, which does weaken the point I think).

  10. 10
    Steve Williams on 19 May 2014 #

    #5 It wasn’t sick, it was custard!

    Both this and Fat Les totally overshadowed the official England record of this tournament, On Top Of The World by England United, ie Echo and the Bunnymen, Ocean Colour Scene, Space and The Spice Girls, which could only make it to number ten despite extensive publicity (I remember it was the theme tune to Gary Lineker’s Golden Boots, the series the Beeb ran as part of the build-up). Most people seemed to turn their noses up at it and the feeling seemed to be that it was rubbish because you couldn’t sing it on the terraces which, until Three Lions, had never been a requirement anyway (Exhibit A – World in Motion). Maybe you could assign that as another example of the decline of the Spice Girls as a year before their appearance on it would certainly have got it to number one, now it all just seemed a bit old hat.

    Because this was now the unofficial song they could add in the “ready for war” line which they’d included in the original (referring to Stuart Pearce in that instance) and the FA had asked them to remove. In his autobiography Frank Skinner says that apart from getting to go on Top of the Pops, which for whatever reason they hadn’t done the first time round, he didn’t really enjoy this new version half as much as the first time round.

    The appearance of three World Cup-themed records in the top ten, though, in addition to Del Amitri’s Scotland song (which I always found agreeably jaunty) a bit lower down, illustrates the huge interest in this World Cup, certainly I can’t remember more promotion, merchandising and coverage for any other tournament (apart from Euro 96, which is a special case). I bought about a hundred tie-in magazines and I even remember buying England-branded ham from Sainsburys. It was also the first World Cup where every match was shown live on primetime BBC1 and ITV, which hadn’t been the case before, partly because of logistics (some matches, not just the final group matches, had simultaneous kick-offs) and also partly due to the Beeb and ITV simply choosing not to.

  11. 11
    Tom on 19 May 2014 #

    #8 according to Wiki, they’d wanted to get “Butcher ready for war” in the first time, but the FA were squeamish about possible overtones. Obviously the success of the song meant they got “ready for war” in on the second go.

  12. 12
    Mark G on 19 May 2014 #

    Re football songs, one year England, Wales and Ireland managed to qualify so one label (Lismor) recorded and released 3 versions of “Funiculi funicular” to fit for each. Stiff records took on/over distribution, and made a promo version that mixed all three together. But, they did not release that one, properly.

    None charted, obv.

  13. 13
    Mark M on 19 May 2014 #

    Re10: You could look it at as the culmination of the rebranding that started with Italia ’90, and then been derailed for England by some extent by the shambles of ’92, the failure to even qualify in ’94, plus the failure of the younger stars of ’90 to fulfil their potential (Des Walker wasn’t the new Bobby Moore, Gazza turned out to be the new George Best in the worst possible way).

    1996 fixed all of that and then some, so that England went into a tournament in the rare position of having both a good on-field and an better off-field buzz retained from the last one, plus a squad with a fair bit of experience along with a whole bunch of bright kids* (four 23-year-olds – Scholes, Beckham, Neville and Campbell – and two teenagers – Owen and R. Ferdinand). The players who made the headlines in the tournament were a generation on from those that got a mention in the song.

    *Shades of this year, in a way.

  14. 14
    mapman132 on 19 May 2014 #

    Hmm, World Cup 98, that was the one in France, right? ;)

    Actually, the World Cup is just about the only the time I watch “soccer” matches on TV. I enjoy the spectacle of the international winner-takes-all format and as it’s the one major world sport that we Americans historically suck at, I can root for Team USA without guilt. Team USA tends to have a good-bad-good-bad pattern in successive World Cups and 1998 was in the bad part of the cycle – I believe we lost all three matches. Unfortunately, so is 2014, so an embarrassing first round exit seems inevitable. At least we get to experience the joys of Manaus (it’s really not that bad!)

    Anyway, nothing to add about “Three Lions” this time around. Whatever-I-gave-it-last-time out of 10.

  15. 15
    Tom on 19 May 2014 #

    By happy coincidence, the 1970s countdown Tumblr today is http://mouldyolddough.tumblr.com/post/86208974422/england-world-cup-squad-back-home-1970

  16. 16
    James BC on 19 May 2014 #

    #10 It was sick!

    They may have used custard but it’s meant to be sick – the sick bucket from the coach. Why would you have a bucket of custard on a coach?

  17. 17
    Steve Mannion on 19 May 2014 #

    Surely it is custard as this was a running joke from the Fantasy Football series where Skinner first observed and demonstrated that his arm dipped in custard looked Exactly The Same as the World Cup.

    ‘Custard on a coach’ – Perhaps Gazza’s intended revenge on Hoddle. Or a Bentley Rhythm Ace B-side?

  18. 18
    James BC on 19 May 2014 #

    I didn’t watch Fantasy Football so wasn’t aware of the running gag. Still not wholly convinced – it looks like sick to me. If it’s genuinely supposed to be custard, they should have flashed up “NOT SICK” on the screen to reassure non-fans and spare me 16 years of mild disgust.

  19. 19
    Steve Mannion on 19 May 2014 #

    Maybe it was sick but the sick was comprised entirely of custard.

    Fantasy Football moved to ITV for this World Cup but by that time had run out of steam (if not also custard). The real stars of the tournament were the Croats and Dutch – which together make an anagram of ‘hot custard’ (+ spare c for copyright)! And so it all falls into place.

  20. 20
    Mark G on 19 May 2014 #


    So, any place..

    The Echo/Bunnymen/Spicegirls’ “How does it feel” etc, also got overshadowed by Chumbawamba’s “(how does it feel) Sitting on top of the world”, which is the only one of the two I can recall the tune for, ironically..

  21. 21
    Chelovek na lune on 19 May 2014 #

    I remember getting the tube home, from Westminster to Becontree on the afternoon of the notorious Beckham-foul Argentina game. Much general excitement: the train driver announced every time a goal was scored, and in Becontree afterwards, I recall three boys (maybe aged 10 or so), running out of their house in excitement and shouting “Vindaloo! We’re gonna score one more than you” (as England did not) precisely when England scored their final goal. Becontree is not Islington, so the appropriation of ironic thuggishness unironically suggests that song may have better caught the footballing mood of the nation better than this remake (and it would have been great to see on Popular, bunny curry I guess). Otherwise – more or less whatever I said about the original, albeit the changed lyrics and voice-overs probably highlight the hoping-against-hope and unrealistic expectations thing: and also, in the “we believe” lines, the hope-against-reason aspect of England football fandom.

  22. 22
    Tom on 19 May 2014 #

    Yes, “Vindaloo” would have been an interesting entry. It felt like irony in Fat Les’ case – on “Goblin In The Office” too – was a shell to be retreated into in case critical predators got too close.

    I was also walking home during the England-Argentina game – I opted against watching it in a pub. Roars and groans from living room windows told me what was happening, and I got back just in time for extra time. I was much more disconnected from the tournament than I expected (after 1996), because I’d spent most of the group stage on holiday in Greece. Watching Iran v USA in the “Wave Bar”, cocktail in hand, feet dangling in the Aegean is my main (and happiest) memory of the competition.

  23. 23
    Kat but logged out innit on 19 May 2014 #

    I watched the Beckham-sending-off round schoolchum Kirst’s house and went off football for good pretty much exactly then (with a brief relapse in 2002 for the novelty of a Guinness at 9am for the Brazil match). Though the resurgence of 3 Lions meant I finally realised it was called ‘Jules Rimet’ rather than ‘Jewels Remain’. Jewels be gleaming!

  24. 24
    MikeMCSG on 19 May 2014 #

    Baddiel and Skinner no doubt favour the interpretation of “Gazza good as before” as a memory of Euro 96 ( although, that goal against Scotland aside, he wasn’t ) rather than a prediction for WC98 . Gazza was playing in the Championship for Middlesbrough in the run-up and rightly left out by Glenn Hoddle to howls of protest from the likes of Danny Baker. I remember him making the argument, at the expense of poor old Rob Lee, that you needed him, overweight alcoholic that he was, to come off the bench and turn things round, the usual justification for taking an unfit or injured former hero when that moment of inspiration is more likely to come from a fully-fit workhorse like David Platt .
    In Baker’s case of course he was actively wrecking Gazza’s chances by going out drinking with him and Chris Evans ( as in that famous photo which is supposed to have brought the respectability of lad culture to an end ) who I’m guessing we’ll be mentioning again pretty shortly.

  25. 25
    Mark G on 19 May 2014 #

    .. The tale was that Paul had stayed on the soft drinks.

    Still, papers had to be sold…

  26. 26
    PurpleKylie on 19 May 2014 #

    This was my first exposure to “Three Lions”, I wasn’t aware there was an “original version” till about 4 years later! Also the 98 World Cup was my first proper exposure to this strange phenomenon called “football”, having previously lived in a country where rugby union is king and anyone who had even heard of football considered it a “sport for pansies”(if the average Kiwi is anything like my dad at least).

    The 98 WC and the one after it were the only times I felt any sort of affection for the English national football team before I realised that Wales had a team of their own and I no longer saw the point in supporting our ‘rivals’ despite the Welsh team being consistently rubbish. Oh well, at least we can still make fun of England when they go out on penalties like they always do.

    As for the song, despite CLEARLY not being about my own national team, I can still enjoy the song if I mentally block out that it’s about ‘them lot’. Same for “World In Motion”, I could just enjoy it as another great track from one of my fave bands if I stop it just as John Barnes finishes his rap.

  27. 27
    Kinitawowi on 19 May 2014 #

    The last trump, in so many ways. The last time we had real hope for a tournament. The parting of the ways of football and Popular (I think). And again, the last trump of Britpop. The Lightning Seeds will never grace Popular again; Vin-Da-Loo was the beery swagger, its video giving the Verve’s overblown Bittersweet Symphony the one in the eye it so richly deserved. But the shambolic official effort, that collaboration of Space, Echo and the Bunnymen, Ocean Colour Scene and the Spice Girls (Geri would announce her departure in the aftermath of that song’s recording – more on that story later, though), was maybe the true sign that those days were gone.

    But not forgotten. Three Lions 98; here it is again in the centre of that tempered realism. Italy 0 England 0 remains the greatest 0-0 draw I’ve ever seen (not that there’s much competition for that, but), but as noted it’s still a 0-0 draw. They can be determined, they can be inspiring, they can be wretched, and Three Lions 98 is all of the above at once. As noted, its weak link is that “Nobby’s dance” line; but Skinner’s first verse rings so true. “No plans for Final Day” indeed; my dad had put the Pearce In Our Time cover of that ’96 Daily Mirror in our front window at the start of the semi-final day, and angrily tore it down as soon as Southgate woofed it. I’m not sure England has ever cared so little about a cup final as it did that of Euro ’96.

    And hey, it’s still Three Lions, innit? Who was still singing World In Motion two years later?


    (One more Three Lions story still to tell, but it’s tied up with next time, bizarrely enough.)

  28. 28
    Tom on 19 May 2014 #

    #27 One more football song to go (unless something happens this year) but not for a long while. Also the end of something, frankly.

  29. 29
    Matt DC on 19 May 2014 #

    It occurs to me that at some point in the last maybe ten years or so England fans actually stopped singing Three Lions. Struggling to work out if this is a direct consequence of the team getting worse or the song just fading in the popular memory, or both.

  30. 30
    anto on 20 May 2014 #

    #29 – It might be because we’re starting to lose count of how many ‘years of hurt’ it is exactly.

  31. 31
    iconoclast on 20 May 2014 #

    Thankfully in Scotland we don’t have to worry about any of this.

  32. 32
    Mark M on 20 May 2014 #

    It’s all a very long time ago, but apparently not in tabloidland, where about a month ago The Sun was suggesting the big hurdle to Diego Simeone getting the job of Manchester United manager was his involvement in the Beckham sending-off in 1998. Quite why that was supposed to be still relevant is unclear…

  33. 33
    Seb Patrick on 20 May 2014 #

    #30 – Hooray for the depressing realisation* that at the next major tournament after this one, it’ll be fifty.

    * depressing as much in a passage-of-time, I’m-getting-old, Three-Lions-was-twenty-years-ago way as an “England keep failing” kind of way

  34. 34
    Chelovek na lune on 20 May 2014 #

    Being half-English, half-Scottish, and preferentially supporting Scotland over England, (albeit not endorsing something I saw in Glasgow on the day in ’98 when England were playing Romania, when an abundance of red-yellow-blue tricolours was evident in some streets and pubs not far from Glasgow Green that day, it must be said, despite the absence then of any evident or sizable Romanian population nearby – Nigel Farage’s idea of hell, I guess), frankly I await the time when a song with the message of “Don’t Come Home Too Soon” might again apply….

    Although what is more probable is that England, having adjusted their expectations more in the direction of reality, or through use of understatement, will end up with a song entitled “Don’t Come Home Too Soon”, many years before Scotland ever again qualify.

  35. 35
    will on 20 May 2014 #

    Quite frankly the years of ‘hurt’ are likely to extend beyond all of our lifetimes..

  36. 36
    thefatgit on 20 May 2014 #

    #30,#33 …and so will I :-(

  37. 37
    Your Brother, The Astronaut on 21 May 2014 #

    Both of the Three Lions completley passed me be in my youth; whether thats simply because they failed to cross over the border to Wales or because Vindaloo’s chaos appealed more to a 9 year old I don’t know.

    (On Vindaloo, it’s a shame that there’s no way of tracking music sales for Wales/Scotland/NI as it’s be interesting to see whether the football songs made any impact there whatsoever)

  38. 38
    Andrew Zigmond on 21 May 2014 #

    #37 I remember Mark Goodier noting that Don’t Come Home Too Soon would have been number one in Scotland while the official England song would have only been number 38.

    As an aside if Scotland votes to go its own way it will be interesting to see if a seperate Scottish top forty develops and how it varies from the one across the border.

  39. 39
    Chelovek na lune on 21 May 2014 #

    #38 The Official Charts Co have been publishing a Scottish Top 40 (with archives) on their website for some time. (Such were also compiled, albeit mostly without ‘ official’ status – and the credibility that seeks to imply – by numerous agencies, radio stations, etc, earlier, too). As far as I can recall, the differences between the UK and Scottish charts have tended to be not that substantial, and often reasonably predictable (e.g. local acts and styles doing better). Would be interesting to find some Scottish charts from the second half of the 80s, when Glasgow and surrounding areas were a real hotbed of creativity and musical brilliance -Smiles Better, indeed.

  40. 40
    Lazarus on 21 May 2014 #

    I seem to remember Runrig often being mentioned as a Scottish band who sold significantly better in their homeland than elsewhere in the UK.

  41. 41
    Auntie Beryl on 21 May 2014 #

    #39 Whilst the OCC archives are useful, they don’t deliver regional sales that stretch back that far. I think there may be someone round here that remembers the Scottish charts week by week though.

  42. 42
    Kinitawowi on 22 May 2014 #

    #28: oh, jeez. Just looked it up (there comes a point when I lose track of the number ones) and… oh dear god.

  43. 43
    Erithian on 23 May 2014 #

    Nice bit of alternative history here: what-if England had qualified for the 1994 World Cup? The manner of our inevitable exit in this scenario won’t be a great surprise, but I did enjoy the idea of the World Cup anthem being a song called “Blobby Charlton”… http://www.theguardian.com/football/football-cliches/2014/may/23/what-if-england-qualified-1994-world-cup-graham-taylor?CMP=twt_gu

  44. 44
    ciaran on 23 May 2014 #

    Could this be described as the last hurrah for the lad culture?

    I actually prefer this version to the 96 one. The aftermath of euro 96, namechecking Ince, gazza!, and psycho was a bit more appealing than the exploits of Moore and nobby who I didnt know and the commentary a bit more exciting than the original. The german pisstaking (kuntz, mullet and moustache combos) in the video was probably going a bit far.AFAIK the custard/hand world cup joke first appeared on the world cup 1994 Fantasy show.Not sure why Chris Evans And Ro-bunnied! ended up in the video mind.

    Baddiel was no Sinatra but he made a better go of it this time around although Skinner’s piece perhaps wasn’t quite as good as 96. Still though an 8.

    Having only taking minor notice of the BBC years I also became obsessed with the Fantasy World Cup show on ITV that summer. The infamous Bridget Nielsen and John Lydon episodes as well as the Phoenix from the flames which showed the Zaire 74 clip and the piss takes of the Indoor League. Marvellous. The 98 world cup also marked the beginning of the Apres Match sketch show on RTE which still lasts to this day.

    The World Cup that year would be worth a 9 if we were using a Popular Marking system. Best world cup of my lifetime going back to 1990. The great Spanish collapse (a regular thing in those days!) coming earlier than normal. Scotland’s last major finals tournament with another near miss ,Romania’s team all going blond, Nigeria fully convinced they woud win the whole thing only to be swept aside by the excellence of Denmark,the epic England Argentina match ,the witchhunt of Beckham afterwards, Bergkamp’s majestic goal in the quarter final, the start of imperial phase France and the end of Germany’s along with Ronaldo’s mysterious no show in the final. Final was a letdown but overall a terrific tournament.

    The world cups of 2002, 06 and 10 were nowhere near as entertaining for me although 2002 and 2006 got off to a great start. South Korea’s run to the 2002 semi final and the superb Italy Germany semi final of 2006 were the highlights of both knockout stages. 2010 was a disaster from start to finish and would be my pick for worst world cup having watched 6 of them.

    Probably the last of the major international finals I watched religiously for over a decade. My favourite sports (Gaelic Football and Hurling) took over completely after this and it wasnt until the 2010 world cup that my interest for a tournament would pick up again.It didnt help matters that Football had issues like the obsession over Pay-Per-View Utd missing the 2000 FA Cup and the ludicrous over expansion of the Champions league in the early 00s.

    Good few weeks ahead though. All Madrid Champions league final tomorrow nightand 3 weeks till WC 2014 kicks off.Its coming home indeed!

  45. 45
    Cumbrian on 23 May 2014 #

    I prefer proffered hope to (even optimistic) expectation, so this is not a patch on the original for me. Vindaloo made the best attempt at getting the spirit of the football chant into the charts this time around, I think. Half Man Half Biscuit have them both beaten in this regard though (not that they’re going to be troubling Popular ever).

    Ciaran is right about this World Cup though – like him, earliest I can remember is 90 and 98 is probably the best of the ones in my recollection. Aside from the moments that he’s mentioned* I’d also put in a good word for Chile (with Sierra in midfield and Salas and Zamorano upfront) outgunned but not outclassed by Brazil and the great Croat team that had Boban, Boksic, Jarni, Prosnecki and Suker in it absolutely battering Germany in the quarter finals.

    *Except I really have to repeat his mention of – not that I saw the clip with this commentary on it until Youtube brought Dutch commentary to the UK masses – DENNIS BERGKAMP, DENNIS BERGKAMP, DENNIS BERGKAMP, WOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGHHHH, DENNIS BERGKAMP. What I’d give to have another one of those moments for England – to go alongside Gary Lineker’s incredulously happy face in the pile on after David Platt scored in 1990 and the pub I was in erupting when Beckham slotted that free kick against Greece – they all seem so far away now.

    #43: I read that and was shocked to feel myself actually excited to see how it was going to turn out. The classic quote in the comments though is “even in our wildest dreams, we still get knocked out on penalties by Germany”. It has made me think that it might be worth looking up The Impossible Job on Youtube again though. I still can’t quite believe Carlton Palmer got 20+ caps for England.

  46. 46
    iconoclast on 23 May 2014 #

    #44: “another near miss”? More of a national tragedy, actually: losing 3-0 to Morocco. At least it wasn’t as bad as – ahem – Costa Rica in 1990, after which the adult male population of some areas of Scotland mysteriously fell by as much a third.

  47. 47
    Erithian on 24 May 2014 #

    #45 Great memories but – SPOILER!!

    This version of the song does “wistful” very well, indeed Frank Skinner’s voice is particularly suited to it – it was indeed NEARLY so sweet back in Euro 96. The rest of it didn’t quite convince then and doesn’t now – although yes the production values were a bit beefier which helped. 1998 was a memorable tournament for all the reasons given above (plus the Michael Owen goal v Argentina – there were only two of us in our house going apeshit, but I can imagine what it was like in pubs). I can’t see the brilliant Dennis Bergkamp goal now without thinking “There is bear come!” thanks to a YouTube commenter on the Jack van Gelder commentary – look it up.

    “Vindaloo” provides another link right up to the present day charts, because as Alex James revealed in “Bit of a Blur”, young Lily Allen (then 12) was there in the studio joining in the backing vocals, and indeed can be seen about a minute into the video. I remember a quote from Damien Hirst saying “By the way, all you England hooligans, you can’t like this” – as if the artist has a right to decree the kind of people who can like his song (ha, the Smiths and Cameron spring to mind). The subtle ironies of “Vindaloo” were clearly lost on the England hooligan community, and on me too if I’m honest!

  48. 48
    Cumbrian on 28 May 2014 #

    47: Whilst I’d agree that the opening of the song does do wistful, I think it’s also problematic in comparison with the original version. There, the song is built around hope (“I know they can play”). That first verse seems to go a bit too far (for me) towards football being absolutely central to existence, rather than a hopeful release – “stay in bed, drift away” – not me. I was disappointed with the way that shoot-out turned out in the end but having the game send you into mild depression seems to me to be the thin end of the Sky wedge about the drama of football that make it all seem a lot more important (self important?) than it actually is (close ups of fans in tears when their team loses, etc). It’s a fine line to tread that I think the first song got right – hope you can be lifted up and away and remembering the good times – that this second one doesn’t quite.

    Also, by the time we get to the chorus, it’s triumphalist – “no more years of hurt, no more need for dreaming” – so we just need to turn up then? This is the type of thinking that has resulted in years of mediocrity for English football. The original is realist – we have had good moments, but that’s all they were – we need more work and a bit of luck – that’s why hope is the way forward, not the assumption that we’ve turned the corner; England never have in my lifetime and I don’t expect they will any time soon. Again, it’s a fine line but I think the original works much better – at least for me and my attitude to sport – the more I think about the 98 version, the more I find fault with it and the pointers it has towards problematic attitudes that have surrounded the international game and the Premier League’s place within the hierarchy of sport.

    I realise we’re probably in violent agreement here – you yourself point out that the rest of the song doesn’t quite convince.

  49. 49
    Andrew Farrell on 29 May 2014 #

    I was actually going to let this one go by, because like the original the clock had moved on by the time I’d gotten (a yard of) space to write – but Cumbrian’s actually come closer than I’d expected to my position.

    Relating to my ranting B*Witched in fact: One of the things that you might hear some people claim as the start of the sense of opportunity and purpose in 90s Ireland, was Yorkshireman Jack Charlton’s reign as manager of the football team, which saw us to two world cups, and crucially a clear win over England in Euro ’86. I followed their exploits in the ’88 world cup, where we gained the dubious honour of being the first team in 50 years to get through to the last 8 without, er, winning a match outright.

    So, some of my confusion and annoyance with the England team is that I’ve kept an eye on them since, and I can absolutely understand the adrenaline and joy of playing above your level, where a point is the plan to get you through, and a win a blessing from on high – but I can’t square what I see with the English entitlement to sail through with this level of play just because they invented the game.

    Since then of course I’ve moved to London, and my discomfort has gained the onion layers of being an immigrant in a country when it’s suddenly flags out, being an immigrant in England when it’s suddenly flags out, and being an Irish immigrant in England when it’s suddenly flags out.

    So yeah, I don’t like this song for the reasons that Cumbrian spears very well, but I don’t believe the original either, the ‘umbleness a fig leaf for the terrace chant.

  50. 50
    iconoclast on 29 May 2014 #

    @49: I presume you mean “Euro ’88” and “the ’90 world cup”?

  51. 51
    Andrew Farrell on 29 May 2014 #

    Yes – my happy memories are not what they were

  52. 52
    Cumbrian on 29 May 2014 #

    Jack Charlton is from Northumberland too. Ashington.

  53. 53
    weej on 1 Jun 2014 #

    I’d lost a bit of patience with this song by ’98, especially as the update seemed more than a little slapdash. What’s all of this about Gazza and Pearce? Where are Owen and Beckham? Not good enough.

  54. 54
    Alan not logged in on 15 Jun 2014 #

    number 27 in the UK charts today

  55. 55
    Cumbrian on 20 Jun 2014 #

    “Hope is the way forward, not the assumption that we’ve turned the corner; England never have in my lifetime and I don’t expect they will any time soon.”

  56. 56
    Tom on 20 Jun 2014 #

    There’s always the Pop World Cup.

  57. 57
    Cumbrian on 28 Jun 2016 #

    De rigueur biennial bump re: my comments at 48 and 55.

    I’m not right about much and, obviously, as a result, not right often either. No one is going to go out of business predicting the demise of the English national football team though – so I can’t even take much credit for that.

  58. 58
    ThePensmith on 8 Jul 2018 #

    As I write this on the morning of Sunday, 8th July 2018, the final of this year’s World Cup in Russia is a week away. And as of yesterday, England are in a World Cup semi final this coming Wednesday for the first time in 28 years after winning 2-0 in the quarter final with Sweden yesterday. They’ll play Croatia on Wednesday.

    Because of the “Gareth Southgate, the whole of England is with you” line in this version (which I got on cassette 20 years ago in the madness of France ’98, aged 9) it’s getting arguably as much airplay as the original, which currently sits near the top end of the Spotify and iTunes tables in the UK as I speak.

    It’s safe to say that the quiet confidence surrounding England means this is the most patriotic or enthused about the beautiful game I have felt in two decades.

  59. 59
    Billy Hicks on 8 Jul 2018 #

    Is the Southgate line from the original match commentary or was it recorded specifically for Three Lions 98? It’s a bit confusing sometimes working out who actually commentated on famous matches – lots of official Youtube clips have new “fake” commentary over old footage, and to complicate things further there was a drama a few years back that used the Euro 96 footage but got John Motson to re-record new commentary over it (“And who’s this walking up now? Oh, it’s Gareth Southgate!”), which sounded really bizarre.

  60. 60
    Andrew Farrell on 8 Jul 2018 #

    England fans’ quiet confidence could do with being a damn sight quieter.


  61. 61
    ThePensmith on 8 Jul 2018 #

    #59 – It is genuine commentary from Jonathan Pearce that opens this version. However, as he was a commentator for a rival station at the time, the top 40 on Radio 1 were playing a version of “3 Lions ’98” that substituted this for commentary from the BBC coverage of the same Euro 96 match – which wasn’t commercially available. The irony of all of this being that Jonathan Pearce subsequently joined the BBC as a commentator a few years later.

    #60 – I saw that this morning. Always one or two that take it too far.

  62. 62
    Cumbrian on 11 Jul 2018 #

    Some thoughts before the Croatia game:

    – We are due a reckoning with this song I think, since it now seems like it’s going to pass into something that will be brought up anytime the England team has any semblance of success in the future. My moaning up thread about the triumphalist nature of the 98 version, versus the hope over expectation underlying the original, is being writ large right now. It’s turning me off it something chronic. (Of course, it was always there in the original – Football’s Coming Home [remember, simply the slogan of the tournament because it was held in England, not an expectation England would win] – but there’s something about the attitude of those singing it that curdles the sentiment very quickly).

    – I bet, if the result goes England’s way tonight, that Baddiel and Skinner are going to be pressed for a third in the trilogy. They might even be prepping lyrics as we speak. I view this with cynicism and dread. They should be reminded that there’s very few ends to trilogies that are much good (Toy Story 3 I think, and that’s about it – plus Disney are going to balls that up by adding a 4th).

    – On the football, I’m still not saying England’ve turned the corner (the quality of opposition beaten to get this far is something of which I am sure we’re all aware) but for the first time in several years, I might actually be able to see a corner to turn, which is slightly breathtaking.

  63. 63
    ThePensmith on 11 Jul 2018 #

    Oh dear. If nothing else, Gareth Southgate has made me interested in football again (which I never thought possible) and has given the country something to feel positive about these last few weeks. Not to mention he has bought waistcoats back into fashion, so a win there.

    As I now currently write this on the evening of 11th July 2018, the original “Three Lions” is midweek bunny – but only by a very slender margin, and one it’s almost certainly unlikely to keep by Friday. It was nice while it lasted. Until 2022 then, I guess…

  64. 64
    flahr on 13 Jul 2018 #

    Well well well: http://www.officialcharts.com/chart-news/football-may-not-have-come-home-but-three-lions-has-on-the-uk-s-official-chart-and-it-s-broken-an-all-time-chart-record__23380/ ! (I suppose this should be on the original’s thread but it makes sense to continue the ongoing conversation here.)

    Interesting to note: last week “Shotbun” had 18,000 sales out of 76,000 combined sales; this week “Three Lions” has 43,000 sales out of 80,000 combined sales. I’m assuming this is a sign of an audience that skewed older and so bought instead of streaming; it might also be a result of it presumably being cheaper than a single released actually this year.

  65. 65
    Shiny Dave, logged out on 14 Jul 2018 #

    …so after fifteen years, Popular has reached the current number one!

    …the number one at the time Popular started is still bunnied, mind.

  66. 66
    Lee Saunders on 14 Jul 2018 #

    I predict the biggest fall from #1 in chart history

  67. 67
    AMZ1981 on 14 Jul 2018 #

    It’s curious as to how the discussion has found its way on to this entry when I suspect most people this week while have been downloading/ streaming the 1996 version.

    How’s this for a statistic? For four (non consecutive) weeks in 1996 the top three singles were fated to variously be number one across three different decades; Three Lions of course returning this week and a non bunny at the time (and still at this point of Popular) getting there in 2004.

  68. 69
    hardtogethits on 20 Jul 2018 #

    #66. Well done Lee Saunders. I think that was an interesting prediction. Relied upon an understanding of both a) how we live today and b) how the charts are compiled. As I say, well done.

  69. 70
    Duro on 13 Sep 2018 #

    #59, #61: the BBC commentary on that night was Barry Davies’s iconic (to me at least) “Ohhh nooo!” which never seems to feature in discussions of the man’s greatest moments. This might be in part due to the curse of retrospective commentary, particularly prevalent on YouTube (“Will Steven Gerrard score a last minute free kick in front of the Kop? Steven Gerrard HAS scored a last minute free kick in front of the Kop!”). Basically I have to second guess whether all or any of my favourite soundbites from 1994-2004 were ever actually spoken!

  70. 71
    Gareth Parker on 1 Jul 2021 #

    I’m more of a ‘World in Motion’ man myself…..3/10 here.

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