Oct 06


FT + Popular83 comments • 18,017 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. 31
    Marcello Carlin on 3 Oct 2006 #


  2. 32

    are they all basically marching songs? i think “back home” gets a bit fiddly for this — but its fiddliness is one of the things that’s wrong with it

  3. 33
    Marcello Carlin on 3 Oct 2006 #

    It tries timidly to be reggae just like Puppet On A String did, but there is a 25th-anniversary-of-VE-Day residual bring-the-boys-home air to the record.

  4. 34
    markgamon on 3 Oct 2006 #

    I can remember ‘Land of Hope and Glory’. That’s pretty rousing.

  5. 35
    Marcello Carlin on 3 Oct 2006 #

    Especially when Tim Brooke-Taylor used to stand to attention to it in his Union Jack Y-fronts in every episode of The Goodies.

  6. 36
    Erithian on 3 Oct 2006 #

    Where on earth is the reggae element in “Back Home”??

  7. 37
    Mark M on 3 Oct 2006 #

    Or Puppet On A String, whose rhythm is surely oompah?

  8. 38
    GeorgeB on 4 Oct 2006 #

    Yes, it’s not really a marching song, is it? A bit too fiddly as you say, and the sentiment isn’t at all harsh or martial. It doesn’t brag – which is a surprise as they were champs and expected to win the thing again. It is rousing in a nice and simple kind of way, though. Incidentally, the final track on the LP is “There’ll Always Be An England”, but as they’ve run thru things like Ob-La-Di, Sugar Sugar and the rest, it can’t really be a serious attempt to inspire a certain kind of patriotic support. Sort of linking this with a previous entry – didn’t the fans of Wolverhampton Wanderers sing the Lee Marvin song as “I was born under a Wanderers scarf”? Further, West Ham fans sang “(Bobby Moore) Viva Bobby Moore” and everybody used Yellow Submarine in some way. Twas truly a go(a)lden age!

  9. 39
    intothefireuk on 4 Oct 2006 #

    I still have that Esso world cup coin collection – how sad is that ? This is the Mother of all football songs being the first one to gain popularity outside of the football community. Shortly after this we had ‘Blue is the colour’ and ‘Good old Arsenal’ respectively from Chelsea’s and Arsenal’s squads in the charts. All of these mass sing-a-longs keep their hooks very simple for ease of use by the fans.

  10. 40

    haha i still have some petrol-station WHITE PLASTIC* BUSTS of footballers — was this from the 1974 world cup tho?

    *the plastic has started to denature into goo on some of them — apparently it mustn’t touch rubber or their FACE MELTS

    “blue is the colour” is rousing AND memorable and A LOT BETTER than poxy old “land of hope and glory” (which like a lot of poorly designed public hymns has too wide a vocal range for non-singers to comfortably manage) (grumpy ex-choirboy mumble mumble)

  11. 41

    actually i am mad no i do not STILL have them — they were in turn damaging the rubber of thr MUCH MORE IMPORTANT figurines* so i binned em

    *don’t ask or i will TELL

  12. 42
    Marcello Carlin on 4 Oct 2006 #

    Can’t have been 1974 ‘cos England didnae qualify in ’74 UNLIKE SCOTLAND

  13. 43

    also i would have “too old” for such nonsense oh wait

  14. 44
    jeff w on 4 Oct 2006 #

    mark’s heads probably from a year or two earlier? I remember collecting plastic busts of Famous American Indians (Cochise etc.) in the early 70s – tho’ whether they came from a petrol station or out of a cereal box I don’t recall now.

  15. 45
    Chris Brown on 4 Oct 2006 #

    Dragging us back to Christmas here – I presume the idea of scheduling Shayne Ward for Christmas was to maximise sales. 2004’s X-Factor single actually came out on the 20th December, which was too late for a Christmas Number One anyway. In fact, the disadvantage (for them) of running these shows so close to the end of the year is that they can’t get an album out in time for Christmas, which is where the money is.
    Oh, and ‘Christmas Is All Around’ was released as a single in real life, but only got to 26.

    Forgive my ignorance, but was it ’74 or ’78 when England didn’t qualify? They didn’t have a hit in either year, which seems odd given the size of their hits either side of the decade.

  16. 46
    Mark M on 5 Oct 2006 #

    England didn’t qualify in ’74 or ’78, a shocking decline after ’66 & ’70 (although admittedly it was a 16 team tournament in those days).

  17. 47
    Mark Grout on 5 Oct 2006 #

    The b-side “Cinnamon Stick” is bizarre. A song about seeing a girl at a cafe sucking a cinnamon stick is rendered strange by everyone singing it, as if the whole squad were taken by her charms..


  18. 48
    Zoe on 19 Jan 2007 #

    Are the links broken here? I am desperately trying to get hold of a download of this song for a project – can anyone help me?

  19. 49
    Tom on 19 Jan 2007 #

    There aren’t any links to song downloads on Popular, because it’s not an MP3 blog – it’s reviewing very well known songs in general.

    Email freakytrigger@gmail.com though and I’ll see if I can help.

  20. 50
    alext on 19 Jan 2007 #

    b-b-but how is something allowed to be on the internet without having any illegally distributed copyright material attached to it!!

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.”

  24. 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!

  25. 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.

  26. 56
    lonepilgrim on 24 Mar 2009 #

    re 55 Hey WL I’m also Horsham-born

  27. 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.

  28. 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.)

  29. 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? ;)

  30. 60
    flahr on 17 Dec 2010 #

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

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