Jan 13


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#708, 21st May 1994

As a football-shunning nipper in the 80s it seemed to me that an FA Cup Final song barged its way into the charts every year, swayed through the top ten full of song like a beery fan on a train carriage, and was gone. And looking at this Wikipedia page – a memento to the rise and fall of the genre – I was basically right.

By the time I got to University, my terribly narrow social circles were broadening a little, and football was gentrifying a lot, so I had friends who bought FA cup records. The songs themselves were no better than they had ever been, often – to the extent that they sounded ‘up to date’ – quite a bit worse. But why should they improve? Who would it benefit? To criticise a club song for its music would be like criticising a souvenir scarf for its insulating properties. Cup Final songs were souvenirs, and maybe something to fuel your sense of belonging and anticipation in the lead-up – “belonging” being the emotion these bluff, comradely, incompetent things managed best and most often.

The year before, one Arsenal fan had come back from town with a cassingle of the stupefying “Shouting For The Gunners” – an honest title, at least. He put it on repeatedly while we played point-and-click games on his PC, making us hunt through its bellowing wreckage for a forgotten fragment of tune. Next to that, “Come On You Reds” was Bacharach and David – and certainly it’s crafted enough to have all the elements you’d want in a Cup Final song. The dab-your-eyes reminder of past triumphs or tragedies. The noble attempt to make the current team roster scan. Yeomen of light entertainment doing their duty for the lads – a manful job by The Quo here. Only a decision to marinade the song in trebly, plastic keyboards spoils the mood.

It’s still terrible, but it’s the right kind of terrible, just about. Which doesn’t explain why it got to number one when the likes of “Ossie’s Dream” and “Anfield Rap” had fallen short. Its platonic incarnation of Cup Final hit-ness can’t explain that on its own. But consider that the friend who bought it had also bought an “Eric The King” duvet cover, and that he’d shown no interest in football at all the year before, and things become clearer. Man U and the Premiership were rising together, the club winning on the pitch and exploiting the new football audience and its hunger for stars. I’d also guess – though I still wouldn’t have cared enough to know – that England’s failure to qualify for USA 94 was good business for Man U, as a huge potential audience turned more of its eye on the domestic game. They weren’t yet the most popular club in the country, but they were hungry, many were young, and some walked like rock stars already. Pop rewards such things. Even I knew who Eric Cantona was.



  1. 1
    Tom on 11 Jan 2013 #

    I thought of taking a “Quo vs Radio 1” angle on this one but the band didn’t start their beef with the station until the next year.

  2. 2
    punctum on 11 Jan 2013 #

    There is something very fitting about Sir Alex Ferguson’s 26-plus-year tenure as manager of Manchester United, a tenure which as yet shows no palpable signs of ending in a world where the average manager is lucky to last a season if the results don’t go his directors’ way, since there is a sizeable whiff of the Mark E Smith about his dogged cussedness, his austerely rationalist rage, his ability to build a team from scratch again and again and find by miracle or instinct the right union of lucky adventurers and fortunate stalwarts – a grumpy bastard who somehow keeps on surviving after all of his shinier compatriots have fallen. He has strode through the barriers of repeated calls for his resignation after duff seasons, and invariably proves the callers wrong.

    Since England didn’t qualify for the 1994 World Cup, held in an utterly bemused USA, Manchester United – by then approaching their first crest as football brand transcending tribal boundaries in favour of a global recognition market – were the next best thing in which to believe (though Jack Charlton’s Republic of Ireland side remarkably made it through to the last 16). No strangers to commemorative records – see “Manchester United” (#50, 1977), “Glory Glory Man United” (#13, 1983), “We All Follow Man United” (#10, 1985) and “United (We Love You)” (#37, 1993) – “Come On You Reds” was intended as a souvenir of a season which had already seen them win the Premier League championship with easy artfulness and now saw them in the final of the FA Cup, versus Chelsea, with the chance of becoming only the fourth team in recorded football history to achieve “the Double.”

    It says much for Manchester United’s global ambition that they engaged the services of lifelong Tottenham Hotspur supporters Status Quo to write, produce and play on “Come On You Reds,” a task which the veterans carried out without due fuss. Essentially a lyrical rewrite of their 1988 top five hit “Burning Bridges (On And Off And On Again),” a typical Quo boogie made even more popular by its bizarre lapse into an Irish jig after each chorus, the squad, including amongst its number Eric Cantona, Roy Keane, Bryan Robson, Paul Ince and Ryan Giggs, sing sturdily, though most of the players seem content to stick to the lower range of their vocal spectrum as the higher voices are palpably those of Messrs Rossi and Parfitt. Although it gets off to a slightly icky start with the line “Busby Babes they always make me cry” – an alliterative echo and negation of the original’s “Burning bridges never made me cry” – they soon get into the cheerleading spirit, with fifty thousand voices singing their song, being on the road to glory, and we are the devils in red you know, etc., even throwing in the obligatory product placement: “We’ll maintain the Status Quo with Man United, here we go!”

    They won the FA Cup by a margin of 4-0 (two Cantona penalties and a goal apiece from Mark Hughes and Brian McClair); the single went to number one the following day and was kept there by a sneaky re-recording which changed the “devils in red” line to “We won the Double, we’ll let you know.” In truth a single which is pretty much ungradeable, since its purpose was, as with most football records, that of an aural mascot for loyal fans, there is such uncomplicated good humour in “Come On You Reds,” not to mention the fact that it gave the Quo, by the back door, their second number one nearly twenty years after their first, that, as with most of the Chelsea defence that Saturday, I’m happy to let it pass.

  3. 3
    fivelongdays on 11 Jan 2013 #

    It was roughly around now that I – a 12 year old with a love of football but a strong dislike of Man Utd – started listening to the charts. Suffice to say, I’ll be posting a lot more on here for the next few years.

    Where to go with this one? It’s annoying, and it makes me hate Man Utd just that little bit more.

    Always loved Cantona, though.

  4. 4
    Matt DC on 11 Jan 2013 #

    I still have somewhat fond memories of this one, because the summer of 1994 at the time felt like this extraordinarily exciting time for football. For me, not much of that was to do with Man Utd admittedly, it was more the imminent arrival of the first World Cup where I really did try and watch every game.

    To me this record feels like the curtain going up on all of that, rather than coming down on a season, as it should be. Obviously I only have the version in my head, I’ve not heard it since 1994. It’s probably rubbish.

  5. 5
    Cumbrian on 11 Jan 2013 #

    This is a reversioning of the Quo’s “Burning Bridges” – where the only real hook is the instrumental sea shanty bit in the middle, here repurposed to be the chorus.

    After “World In Motion”, this is a real throwback to the old school – atonal footballers crowding around the mic and bellowing the words like a terrace chant. Telling, a lot of football related songs a) take this tack but b) generally fail to catch on as tunes on the terraces themselves.

    “Burning Bridges” wasn’t much cop and this is worse. 2 seems fair, as it’s not quite as bad as The Stonk/Bombalurina/Jive Bunny, etc, to my ears.

    My antipathy to Manchester United does not play into this (I’ve never liked them ever since all the kids at school started supporting them when they started winning stuff – for someone who eschewed the glory path and supported his local team, wearing the jeers of your peers because they’re front running arseholes who couldn’t place Old Trafford on a map, never mind having been there, wore a not a little bit thin – apologies to those brought up ManU through and through).

  6. 6
    sonnypike on 11 Jan 2013 #

    I wondered at the time how many people hearing this knew the tune (and entire backing track, I think) was Quo’s 1988 no. 5 Burning Bridges. It was familiar to me, but possibly only because my Dad liked Quo. Tom’s omission of the fact suggests there are plenty of people who would hear the original – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZpu0STR6es and wonder who had covered “that Man Utd song”.

    This came out at about the time that United became truly objectionable to 10 y.o me, and the vast majority of football fans i.e. those that don’t support one of the handful of gigantic teams. They won everything and were smug and brash with it. Nasty business.

    The song’s still got a fond place in my heart though, as it’s from that uneasy time when football was beginning to realise its commercial potential but only in the most nervous, rubbish ways. Look at the video! Look at the head-bowed mortified singing! Look at Peter Schmeichel’s awful baseball cap! All redeemed by Lee Sharpe’s air guitar at 2.02: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZpu0STR6es

  7. 7
    Chelovek na lune on 11 Jan 2013 #

    Living in rural North-East Fife at the time, this completely – and I really do mean completely – passed me by at the time.

    My angle on this is that by going back to “Burning Bridges” (the review of the parent album of which, “Ain’t Complaining” on allmusic, claims is based in part on a folk song), the Quo had recognized – even more than in their “Anniversary Waltz”es of 1990 – that popular music had moved on: they knew, perhaps even accepted (future beef notwithstanding) that they were now regarded as relevant and interesting as Shakin’ Stevens (whose fall from the airwaves, and from general public conversation beyond the ironic pinching of “Viz”). or indeed (despite a late SAW revival) Bananarama, whose fall from commercial success was just as abrupt and nearly complete. The long 1980s were over, baby, in short. And the 70s even more long gone.

    That “Ain’t Complaining” album had been slated, and, “Burning Bridges” apart, hadn’t yielded any sizable hits (despite one single, “Who Gets The Love” being far from devoid of charm or melody); and the follow up album (whose name I had to look up: “Perfect Remedy”) and been almost entirely ignored, like its two singles (one of which didn’t even make the top 75), which lay unloved in Woolies’ bargain bins all over the land, at ever lower prices, for months stretching into years. And never again would they come up with anything truly – inspiring is perhaps the wrong word, – but well, eye-or-ear-or-walletcatching again.

    The two things that are truly bizarre apropos of this: are (a) that the Quo should have their 2nd no 1 at this stage in their career
    and (b) (down, bunny) Who’d have imagined that an act that had started out with a rather little lovely – – – and ***fey*** – – – number praising things “pure and simple every time” would be the future of this sort of thing?

    Perhaps the subtext to point (b) – at which 1994 really was a turning point (Loaded magazine, the height of popularity of Viz, various TV references I’m a bit vague about – but comedians etc)- is the “new laddishness”; both more middle-class and metropolitan and self-consciously “sensitive” and “metrosexual” than the old laddishness; but also decidedly representing a backlash against feminism of the 80s too.

    This was still old school, just, though.

  8. 8
    katstevens on 11 Jan 2013 #

    At school, you had to pick a team to support even if you didn’t like football, and following the 1990 FA Cup final Man U seemed like a safe bet. I liked the classified results WAY more than the actual game though, and some years later switched allegiance to Rushden & Diamonds because they had a better name (and I felt sorry for them, way down there in the Vauxhall Conference). However I still liked Man U … because of Ryan Giggs.

    Anyway my point is that I still have the cassingle of this somewhere.

  9. 9
    lonepilgrim on 11 Jan 2013 #

    this recent run of number 1s seems like the pop equivalent of fridge food – hits made of leftovers, exotic and familiar ingredients that will make do until something more substantial comes along.

    it seems redundant to criticise a record like this – but I do lament the decline of Quo from their ‘less is more’ peak during the 70s to cheery chappy pub sing-a-longs like this

  10. 10
    Tom on 11 Jan 2013 #

    #6 – I didn’t mention “Burning Bridges” because I didn’t have anything to say about it :) Everyone else has talked about it though so I probably should have.

    (I try to err on the side of omission when it comes to facts about songs.)

  11. 11
    thefatgit on 11 Jan 2013 #

    It pissed down. The blue end of Wembley was overcrowded with some sections having 2 to a seat. The stewards turned a blind eye. There was always a shortage of tickets and our allocation had been just 18,000 or something silly like that. We could have sold our allocation 3 times over. We had the edge in the 1st half with Gavin Peacock hitting the woodwork, and keeping Cantona & Co bogged down in midfield. We’d beaten Man Utd home and away in the league and after the first 45 minutes there were reasons at least to still feel confident. The 2nd half favoured Utd. David Elleray awarded 2 penalties in quick succession to Utd. Cantona took both with ease. We’d felt hard done by, but Hughes made it 3-0 in the space of 9 minutes. McClair claimed a 4th in time added on. We had been properly spanked. The blue side of Wembley trudged off under leaden skies to the pubs to drown their sorrows, or simply went straight to the Tube. The first Double for Man Utd, and in many respects the birth of the Blue Renaissance could be traced back to Glenn Hoddle’s team of youngsters and journeymen, captained by the incomparable Dennis Wise. The song? I remember some cockney reds singing “Glory, Glory Man Utd” at the top of their voice down the pub. The Status Quo offering doesn’t lend itself to massed terrace chanting or boozy pub bravado. In fact, it’s barely memorable. Without the “Burning Bridges” prompt, I doubt if I could recall how it went at all. Bloody cockney reds!

  12. 12
    Matt DC on 11 Jan 2013 #

    Is this the last big football record of its type? A couple of years down the line and we’re into completely new celebrity territory that’s never really been rowed back from.

  13. 13
    sonnypike on 11 Jan 2013 #

    #10 Ah, sorry, didn’t mean it to sound pedantic. Was going to include a qualifier saying as much but I felt like I was already going on a bit…

  14. 14
    hardtogethits on 11 Jan 2013 #

    I’m not saying it’s the worst chart-topper of all time, but it’s in the bottom 1.

    For me (as hinted by many above) the only way to evaluate this track – and appear fair – is to compare it with other celebratory songs involving footballers. And so I do, and I find it utterly devoid of any merit. Unlistenable. Please recalibrate the scoring mechanism so I can give this a zero.

  15. 15
    Chelovek na lune on 11 Jan 2013 #

    #14. Nah, there is definitely one, and quite probably two, excruiatingly, embarrassingly, butt-clenchingly awful, number ones to “look forward to” in the calendar year after this one, and that don’t even have the excuse of football to fall back on. I still can’t explain their success to this day, other than to conclude that Britain had fallen into a state of advanced civilisational decay and depravity.

    This, while pretty dire, is the right sort of pretty dire – and to my mind compares at least not outrageously disfavourably with pretty much any of the pre-Englandneworder records of this type…

  16. 16
    Cumbrian on 11 Jan 2013 #

    #15: “to my mind compares at least not outrageously disfavourably with pretty much any of the pre-Englandneworder records of this type”

    I’d agree with this. The trouble is that the vast majority of those records are also bilge. If we’d had the opportunity to opine on “Ossie’s Dream” or “This Time We’ll Get It Right” or similar stuff, I think I’d be about as uncharitable as I would be to this.

    Of the list that Tom links to on his tumblr, the only ones of this ilk that I would be inclined to look on even slightly favourably are “Back Home”, “Blue Is The Colour” and “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles”, I reckon.

  17. 17
    Chelovek na lune on 11 Jan 2013 #

    #16 “England, We’ll Fly The Flag”?

  18. 18
    Steve Mannion on 11 Jan 2013 #

    The Cup final scoreline matched the chart performances of the two teams songs for it. Chelsea’s ‘No One Can Stop Us Now’ peaked at #23 – no memory of it personally but I do not expect it was fit to lace the boots of ‘Blue Is The Colour’.

    At the time Hod’s Chelsea were vaguely likeable – once you got past Ken Bates, David Mellor, hunters of heads…hmmm. I visited the ground that year for their FA Cup match with Sheffield Wednesday, paying under £20 to sit on a wooden bench. Smashing. I like to think that in exchange for reaching the final the Blues squad all received an Amiga 1200 and a copy of Sensible Soccer each.

  19. 19
    hardtogethits on 11 Jan 2013 #

    #15, #16

    Yes but 1. Those records were, as you point out, pre-EnglandNewOrder. No daft analogies, they existed in a world which didn’t know better.

    Yes but 2. Most of the pre-EnglandNewOrder records of this ilk were either a) faithful renditions of fans’ favourites, or b) an attempt – however misguided – at a new tune. Many attempted humour. This didn’t make them admirable or likeable, but just about tolerable.

  20. 20
    Tom on 11 Jan 2013 #

    Oh knackers there’s meant to be a link to that Wikipedia page in the first paragraph. I’m on a team building exercise all day (I escaped a singalong unlike some colleagues earlier in the week) – perhaps Steve or Alan could do it? Ta!

  21. 21
    Cumbrian on 11 Jan 2013 #


    1) Is the fact that they didn’t know better an excuse for producing something that isn’t much good? They could have tried something different instead of trotting out the same old stuff. It’s difficult to state this point with certainty, as we live in a world where “World In Motion” exists, but I feel comfortable in saying that even if that record had never been produced, I still think that this sort of record is bad.

    2) I think I accept this more than the first point, up to a point. Nothing is going to redeem “The Anfield Rap” for instance, attempt at humour or not.


    I’d not heard this before. It’s also not very good – but has something more going for it musically than some other football records. Take the vocals off and it might be the theme tune to an early 80s sci-fi cartoon, which makes me more naturally disposed to it in a nostalgic – that was my childhood – sense. (Separate point: there’s evidently some market for this, given how CITV’s retro weekend performed in the ratings last week.)

  22. 22
    Basil Brush on 11 Jan 2013 #

    #19 yes but 2. and c) “We’re a bit rubbish but we try” e.g. “This time we’ll get it right” and “Don’t come home too soon”

  23. 23
    Mark G on 11 Jan 2013 #

    I knew that would happen…

  24. 24
    Chelovek na lune on 11 Jan 2013 #

    #21 It was used (in modified form I guess? My memory is a bit vague, but I suspect no footballers featured) as a TV advert for (still nationalised) British Airways..I think BEFORE the football version was released.

  25. 25
    James BC on 11 Jan 2013 #

    EnglandNewOrder worked for the national team, but I don’t see how it could have worked for a club. Imagine if Utd had attempted something more sophisticated, or started singing about love or expressing themselves – it would have been a disaster. Matey singalong has to be the way to go, and this doesn’t do a bad job. (Plus, World in Motion had a fair bit of matey singalong in it anyway.)

    For a number one song, this obviously isn’t very good. It shouldn’t have been number 1 at all: how can a song aimed only at the supporters of one team become the most popular song in the country? Man U were getting far too big, and this was one of the dire consequences.

  26. 26
    Ricardo on 11 Jan 2013 #

    Hey Tom, are you thinking about doing something similar to what you did with “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” for the next entry? ;)

  27. 27
    Steve Mannion on 11 Jan 2013 #

    Considering some songs in the 90s only needed to sell 20-30,000 in a week to top the chart, it was surprising it didn’t happen more James. At this point Utd’s home crowd must’ve been 40,000 at least and this was the time of the ground’s lowest ever capacity (the old North Stand was demolished the following year). They could’ve had been top of the charts at Xmas (“You Don’t Win Anything With Elves”?) as well as top of the league if they’d mobilised accordingly. Think ourselves lucky.

  28. 28
    23 Daves on 11 Jan 2013 #

    Another number one I’d completely forgotten actually existed, although unlike Tony Di Bart it only took a few seconds before the melody line came back into my head again. The specialist nature of this single meant that it really wasn’t played on the radio all that much (that I’m aware of) and whilst I was certainly aware of its existence at the time, it was avoidable and there was obviously no reason at all why I should bother to seek it out.

    I know so little about football that there’s not much I can sensibly contribute to this debate, beyond agreeing with the people who have commented that this was a step backwards for football records, a return to the old team sing-a-long, knees-up values of the seventies and eighties. I find it hard to mark something like this, it neither irritates nor pleases me – it’s just something I can easily ignore in the very unlikely event that I’m ever confronted with it. For reasons I’ve never really been able to work out, I also find bad sing-a-long football records somehow less aggravating than bad charity ensemble records, perhaps because the latter are often ubiquitous, whatever their shortcomings, whereas the former are only really heard during the chart run-down and very occasionally on the local pub jukebox. They’re cheap pieces of fun rather than being held up as pieces of worthiness.

    But, if I had to pick an interesting football record, it would be this non-league effort from Fisher Athletic entitled “Come On The Fish”. You’ll seldom hear something so modest. http://youtu.be/j4FMREsTqAM

  29. 29
    Erithian on 11 Jan 2013 #

    Well, with my pedigree – living in Stretford when I was first old enough to know what football was, therefore Red from a young age (much to my late dad’s disgust) – you’re not going to expect too much in the way of objectivity from me on this one. Obviously it’s nobody’s idea of a classic, but being based on one of Quo’s more listenable late-period songs it did have something going for it (the Irish jig element no doubt appealing to our nearest overseas fanbase), and it was good to have a reference to Duncan Edwards in a number one song. So for that brief wonderful fortnight United were League champions, FA Cup holders AND number one in the chart. Beat that, Wenger!

    And of course it was the first and only club-based football record to make number one, topping the previous No 3 peak of the execrable (and I’m not just saying that because of the club involved) “Anfield Rap”. Having the biggest fanbase in the country wasn’t enough in itself to get to the summit (as was shown with the two shocking Cup Final records in 1996, almost as shocking as the United-Liverpool final that year). It had to be a half-decent record, which even Punctum admits it was.

    A couple of corrections I can’t resist making. Tom, it’s not just one-eyedness on my part, but United had been for a long time the most popular club in the country in terms of attendances, if not the most successful. 1993 had seen our first title in 26 years, but Leeds, who had won their first title in 18 years the previous season, had plummeted to 17th. United never looked likely to be a one-season wonder – leading from the fourth match onwards, the previous season’s success turned into what looked like a dynasty with Cantona pulling the strings and at the same time showing the dark side of his character, usually in the suitably black away strip we sported that season.

    Punctum, not sure what you mean by “recorded” football history but United were the 6th team to do the double after Preston (1889), Aston Villa (1897), Spurs (1961), Arsenal (1971) and Liverpool (1986) – two years later they became the first club to do the double twice. Fatgit and the Swede wouldn’t forgive me if I didn’t acknowledge that at least one of the Cup Final penalties was highly dubious, which I’ve always put down to the teeming rain on the day which made the pitch markings all but invisible – at least on the telly, I don’t know how well David Elleray could see them!

    Steve M, another obstacle to Hod’s Chelsea being likeable would be Dennis Wise. As a Liverpool fan put it on 6-0-6, “a face you would never tire of punching”.

    And as for the team roster as part of the lyric (which isn’t that much of a staple, Tom – can’t think of many besides Forest who’ve done that, although no doubt others will correct me) – not many of those names have resonance in the music world. Keane, obviously, and more recently Giggs… any others?

    23 Daves – I look forward to hearing the Fisher Athletic record (although “Come On The Fish” sounds a bit icky in itself!). As it happens Erith & Belvedere visit Fisher for a Cup-tie tomorrow, though I’ve never heard it played when I’ve been to their ground.

  30. 30
    will on 11 Jan 2013 #

    This was perhaps the only time a club-based record could get to Number One. This was Ferguson’s first great team and crucially a few years before it began to be cool to hate Man U. In 1994 there was a universal, if grudging admission of their brilliance. Plus football, and the Premiership, was still basking in its post-1990 glow. I know of a few people who ‘got into’ football around this time and because of Cantona, Giggs and co automatically gravitated towards United. It was these sort of people who made this Number One.

    Didn’t United release a number of singles in the years that followed? I distinctly remember a track called ‘The Man United Calypso’ going Top 20 at Christmas one year in the mid 90s..

    Re 29: Chas and Dave listed the entire Spurs team in their ’87 Cup Final song Hot Shot Tottenham.

  31. 31
    Erithian on 11 Jan 2013 #

    Oh yes – as a Coventry fan of my acquaintance reworded it: “Seven times you’ve won the Cup/and number eight you f—ed it up/you’re Hot Shot Tottenham.”

  32. 32
    Steve Mannion on 11 Jan 2013 #

    #29 Not quite the same thing but Cantona got his name onto one Top 40 hit I’m sure you’ll recall.

    Perhaps during the game a commentator exclaimed “and Bruce springs Stein…”

  33. 33
    Tom on 11 Jan 2013 #

    #29 Thanks for the corrections (and memories) Erithian. Happy to bow to you on “most popular”, I wasn’t really thinking about attendances (though wouldn’t have known!), more the nebulous and shifting allegiances of casual fans, glory-hunters etc. But it sounds like they’d be top in 1994 by that standard too.

  34. 34
    Steve Mannion on 11 Jan 2013 #

    The interesting downshot regarding the new Premier league era and the quality of this Utd team in particular was how bad English clubs were in Europe in the mid 90s (despite Utd’s Cup Winners Cup win upon the end of the Euro ban). It mirrored the national side’s failure to have qualified at the World Cup (probably for the best as they would have only lost to Diana Ross on penalties). I guess the exception was Arsenal, Nayim notwithstanding.

  35. 35
    James BC on 11 Jan 2013 #

    #29 Ant and Dec’s ‘We’re On The Ball’, the official England song for some tournament or other, also listed a lot of players, but if I remember rightly most of them were left out of the eventual squad. Whoops!

  36. 36
    wichita lineman on 11 Jan 2013 #

    “a few years before it began to be cool to hate Man U”. Maybe I was uncool, but throughout the 80s their arrogance about deserving the league title for past glories/tragedies alone made me loathe Manchester United.

    This hadn’t been a problem in the 70s – I’m old enough to remember them being relegated and having to play York in the old second division. They were then promoted with a young exciting team who seemed to enjoy playing and had a lot of slightly oddball and entertaining players: Stuart Pearson with his Dave Bartram grin, Brian Greenhoff’s tears every time they lost, Gordon Hill’s Norman Wisdom impressions, Steve Coppell’s A levels.

    A few years on they were an unsmiling bunch struggling under the weight of history. Once they broke their duck and won the league for the first time in over 20 years they gave the impression of being back in their rightful place.

    In this respect, Quo automatically expecting Radio 1 airplay makes them a perfect match for Man Utd. Pursuing a point, you could say mid 70s Quo (Down Down, Rain, Mystery Song) sound as light and delightful as Tommy Docherty’s contemporaneous young Man Utd, hitting their stride, and enjoying themselves and their success.

    Manchester United Calypso was the first football chart hit in 1956, giving Man Utd two firsts. It was by Edric Connor and was a tribute to the (still living) Busby Babes.

  37. 37
    anto on 11 Jan 2013 #

    The rise of the Premiership is a good point in this review. The opening day of the 1994 season was the first time that it struck me how football had changed. It was the sight of Holland intenational Brian Roy playing for newly-promoted Notts Forest. Roy had played in the World Cup but was not the sort of player you expected to see on MOTD week in, week out.
    I’m of the view that 1994-98 was the best phase of the Premiership that there has been so far. You began to see some positive changes such as more foreign players in the league and signs that the English game was slowly but surely catching up with the rest of Europe.
    You could now see the likes Ginola and Bergkamp in action as oppossed to Cascarino and Chapman. That made an interesting change even if the new leaugue trophy was ugly and you were aware that Englands top division was being gradually moulded into one long ad for SkySports.
    The standard of football around this time was probably the best it had been in years – Kevin Keegans swashbuckling Newcastle team, Shearer and Sutton at Blackburn, Zola at Chelsea, Martin O’Neills young Leicester side, Wenger changing the habits of Arsenal and of course United themselves – Cantona, Giggs, Ince, Keane followed by the youngsters from the team that won the FA youth cup in ’92. An exciting squad even if the club itself became increasingly divisive. I prefered Ferguson before he became “Sir” Alex.
    In paralell the same period was probably the time when pop and football seemed at their most inseparable. Another number 1 that crops up in two years time will illustrate that perfectly, but with all these shifts “Come On You Reds” seemed like an anachronism. Quo and United – two institutions not quite fitting together. Rossi and Parfit sound bemused even if the chant does kind of succeed. The one thing I like about it is the way that they shoehorn the name Kanchelskis into the lyrics.
    In ’94 United were becoming notorious for their merchandise. Was this the year when they had 4 different kits? (all awful) then there was United brand cola. “Come On You Reds” seems like another tacky product with Uniteds name on it. Although the nadir would come later with the woeful film “Beyond The Promised Land.” – basically an annual report video given a cinema release.

  38. 38
    Erithian on 11 Jan 2013 #

    Mid-70s United as mid-70s Quo, Sir Alex as Mark E Smith – I bloody love Popular! Like the Dave Bartram reference too Wichita.

  39. 39
    speedwell54 on 11 Jan 2013 #

    Q: Which act had a top 10 in 1985, changed the WHOLE LINE UP, and had a No1 in 1994?
    A: Manchester Utd.

    Pretty rare feat I thought but Punctum at 2 mentions Bryan Robson’s inclusion, -I thought he’d left by then- and after the chore of watching the video he is there, so that ruins that one.
    Btw how much is Lee Sharpe featured!

    This sold a lot, and just missed out on the year end top 10. A shake of the head, eyes look skyward, and a tut.

  40. 40
    Another Pete on 11 Jan 2013 #

    #34 In Norwich we still dine out on our team’s victory over Bayern Munich in the UEFA Cup 20 years later. As far as I know still the only team to beat them in their own ‘Hinterhof’ over 90 minutes.

  41. 41
    Erithian on 11 Jan 2013 #

    I think we all heart Jeremy Goss for that, don’t we?

  42. 42
    The Lurker on 11 Jan 2013 #

    #29: Growing up in Surrey in the 1980s most of the glory-hunting kids in my school supported the then-dominant Liverpool – I only remember one Man U supporter. Somewhere along the line a new generation of glory-hunters switched to Man U – how complete this was by 1994 I’m not sure (Liverpool did win the FA Cup in 1992 and they were certainly still seen as a Big 5 club). All of which is to say that Man U may have had the biggest attendances but may not have yet been the undisputed biggest club at this point. (Due to my Dad’s support I’m an Arsenal supporter, so can claim neutrality on this point!)

    As regards the beginning of the “Anyone But United” movement among fans – I think it really took hold in the 95/96 season when Keegan’s swashbuckling Newcastle side disintegrated under Fergie’s mind games.

  43. 43
    ciaran on 11 Jan 2013 #

    #37 – Excellent summary of events anto.totally agree with you in that 1994-98 being the premierships high point to date.However I might also be saying that because I was 12 in 1994 so theres a hint of ‘better back then’ reminiscing possibly going on.

    It was a glorious time to enjoy the game.Ford super sunday, Monday night football with the short-lived cheerleaders, great analysis by Andy Gray (not the unbearable cliched sexist he soon became), riveting title races, and – unlike now- not overexposed on TV.Throw in your FIFA’s/Sensible soccer/ISS and even the computer games had hugely improved.

    I would love to add great football kits but alas it was the start of a major slump what with Adidas rebranding and Nike entering the market with a host of dull designs.

    One thing that annoyed me about the sky-ification of football was that it killed the serie a boom of the 90s.monday nights in ireland had an hour special circa 1992-93 which went down very well.

    As far as COYR is concerned I enjoyed it a bit but had no idea of the status quo connection.How could you at 12.Given the original was back around 1988 its incredible how dated COYR sounds now.even more so with how futuristic premiership football seemed back in the 90s.It was a bit of a surprise that a football song was number 1 but even back then I thought lee sharpe looked like a prized pillock in the video.Maybe his antics in this could be linked to his decline as a footballer.

    Its hard to give it a mark but somewhere between 3 to 4 is about right.3 for not being a man utd fan.In fact I reckon its one of the hardest to grade in the entire history of popular.

    #30 – Yes there was one in 1995 by someone called stryker and might well be the worst football record ever.another bad attempt was in 1996 with move move move, a tune that could have been mistaken for a 2 unlimited/outhere brothers record.

    Looking back its amazing that the normally hardline alex ferguson could agree to players being involved in making music.

  44. 44
    hardtogethits on 11 Jan 2013 #

    #39. Was it Trigger’s Broom?

  45. 45
    Brendan F on 11 Jan 2013 #

    ISTR it was Brian McClair being a fan of the Quo that got them together. Footballers being notorious for poor taste (in most things, not least music). A perfect storm of a record (with obvious bias tbh).

  46. 46
    MikeMCSG on 11 Jan 2013 #

    As an antidote to Ian at #29 ( who’s usually singing from the same hymn sheet as me ) I have a lifelong visceral hatred of Manchester United that pre-dates any interest in football. It stems I think from furious resentment that any game/activity on a Saturday afternoon no matter how absorbing had to be suspended or abandoned at 4.45 as my mother and gran (Dad would be asleep in his chair) ran to the radio to hear the United score. Even when I became interested in football (around 13) this survived. I don’t think either of them ever set foot in Old Trafford ; it seems to have been based on a sentimental reaction to the Munich air disaster which is ultimately the root of United’s popularity.

    For the above reasons and the awful realisation that the Premiership had cemented their dominance of the game for years to come I came up with an extremely tasteless alternative set of lyrics to sing along to this when it came on the radio – in unthreatening company of course. The opening couplet will give you the flavour -“Munich Airport always makes me smile,Busby Babies they went out in style”.

    I think Punctum’s rosy-eyed view of Ferguson is perhaps related to him being a fellow Glaswegian and his dubious credentials as a socialist. Of course he is a great manager, it would be nonsense to deny that but he does have the advantage United have always had that they can castrate their rivals by luring away their best player – Jordan and McQueen, Robson, Keane, Ferdinand, Rooney, Van Persie and so on. That’s why Alan Shearer’s a hero of mine for resisting the embrace. In absolute fairness Ferguson has been quite good to my club (Rochdale) and done us a few favours over the years so it’s a grudging thanks for that at least.

  47. 47
    thefatgit on 11 Jan 2013 #

    Erithian #29, many thanks for acknowledging the penner that wasn’t, but in the grand scheme of things, we’ve all been at the wrong or right end of dubious decisions. The rain turned Wembley’s pitch into a quagmire in places. The players on the receiving end, namely Chelsea, laboured under the conditions while Utd. with their 3 goal advantage nipped the ball around with confidence and ease. We’d all had enough. Not even a cameo appearance from Hoddle could lift our spirits.

    I’m imagining Erithian grinning like a loon reading this.

  48. 48
    Erithian on 11 Jan 2013 #

    #47 – Not after reading that couplet in the previous post Fatgit! Mike, I don’t want to get into a row and I’m assuming “that was then and this is now”, but nothing justifies Munich songs any more than meatheads at United or elsewhere were justified in singing about Hillsborough, Sol Campbell, the Spurs version of a well known Guy Mitchell song and so on. Let’s move on.

    The riskiest football song I ever sang? An old school friend of mine came down for the weekend of United’s last game of ’92-93 at Wimbledon (on a Sunday) and on the Saturday we went to West Ham with his cousin. The Hammers clinched promotion, and we went for a pint in a very loud West Ham pub – so loud the two of us tried a few choruses of “Ryan Giggs running down the wing” and got away with it. If the noise level had dipped momentarily I might not be telling you this…

  49. 49
    MikeMCSG on 12 Jan 2013 #

    # 48 Well yes just an honest account of my response to the song at the time which I’m well aware doesn’t cast me in a flattering light. I don’t think anyone really wants to celebrate a tragedy – it’s just a reaction to the sort of fawning coverage it gets and its incorporation into the club’s PR. Bobby Charlton, a man who refused to visit his dying mother, blubbing over Duncan Edwards and the belittling of Bobby Moore’s achievement -“wouldn’t have been captain if Edwards had lived” are the sort of things I mean. And in my case that age-old desire to shock a parent.

  50. 50
    Erithian on 12 Jan 2013 #

    Hmm, well Bobby’s personality was changed profoundly by the aftermath of Munich,and I’d hesitate to condemn him for that; and I think the stuff about Duncan is more what-might-have-been than any attempt to belittle Bobby Moore. But to an extent I see your point – as with Hillsborough, it’s the way the club and city choose to commemorate the event – those outside the circle may find it mawkish or excessive (e.g. Liverpool trying to “retire” 15 April as a matchday) but from the PoV of those inside the circle that’s their business.

  51. 51
    Jimmy the Swede on 12 Jan 2013 #

    Erithian is right, of course. NOTHING justifies Munich songs but Mike does make a good point about the Duncan Edwards/Bobby Moore thing. Not only has this been a constant mantra of the ever-emotional Bobby Charlton (one must on the other hand always remember that Charlton himself was a Munich survivor) but is held to be a neccessary truth by a broad swathe of United followers and handed down through the ages. It’s ultimately a pointless claim and does indeed belittle Bobby Moore, a dear much-missed true English hero.

    Apropos the 1994 Cup Final, the Swede (lifelong Blue) alas was present at this. As thefatgit recalls, it bucketed down all day and the game was effectively ruined by a quite absurd refereeing decision by Harrow schoolmaster David Elleray. Having quite rightly awarded United a first penalty, which was converted, he then ran half the pitch to award them another which was not a foul and not even in the penalty area. This too was put away and it was game over.

    Some years later, I wrote to Mr Elleray, having read his autobiography, in which he admitted that he knew he had made a mistake the second he awarded the second penalty but felt unable to correct it under the protests of Chelsea players, particularly Dennis Wise. At the precise moment he gave it, though, he insisted he gave the decision honestly. In my letter, I commended him on his candour and compared it (perhaps rather strangely) with Harry Gibbs’ decision to award Joe Bugner a points win over Henry Cooper in 1971, an astonishing calculation in most observers’ eyes. Similarly, I mused, Gibbs had got it badly wrong but his decision was entirely honest. I also included in my letter a substantiated story that a gang of Chelsea fans had piled into a van, intending to pay Elleray a visit at his place of work soon after the Final. Alas, these lads were not the most enlightened creatures and instead of arriving at Harrow, they instead spent a couple of hours wandering around Harlow in Essex in search of “that Geography geezer”. I have to say, that in his very nice reply to me, Elleray mentioned how funny he thought this was. Me too, I have to say.

    My only pleasant memory of that horrible day was as we, the vanquished blue army, headed back up Empire Way to the station. It was absolutely pelting down now and this matched our mood. As my sorry little party of six approached one of the toilets by the side, I spotted a young girl of about 19/20 decked out in blue standing to one side, waiting, one assumed, for her boyfriend to emerge from the lavvy. She was absolutely lovely. As I came up level with her, she suddenly burst into tears and Gentleman Jimmy immediately scuttled over to “comfort” her with a tight hug. “It’s alright, love!” I assured her, as I buried my head in her hair, “we’ll win it next year!” (we didn’t). After taking in a very pleasant faceful, I backed away only to see that a queue had formed behind me of other willing offerers of support, all blokes surprisingly. It was like that scene from Airplane with the hysterical hostess. Fabulous. It was a lovely end to a very unlovely day!

  52. 52
    MikeMCSG on 12 Jan 2013 #

    #50 There’s an important difference from Hillsborough in that it’s a raw wound for many living people whereas those upset about Munich songs seem to be getting vicariously indignant on behalf of United fans of two generations ago . It all seems a bit Princess Di to an outsider ( and I’ll prepare to be unpopular again when we get to 97). But yes it is their business and probably incomprehensible to fans of clubs with nothing remotely worth commemorating in their history.

  53. 53
    Erithian on 12 Jan 2013 #

    You may be right that it’s not as raw for the fans concerned (although there are bereaved families still around), but the point is that it’s still tasteless and deliberately offensive, and marks those taking part as arseholes (see also: songs commemorating battles of 1690 etc). And hey, it’s not a competition.

  54. 54
    MikeMCSG on 12 Jan 2013 #

    # 53 No it’s not. Let’s move on.

  55. 55
    wichita lineman on 12 Jan 2013 #

    Re 51: “Why does it take the tears of a woman to see how men are?”

  56. 56
    swanstep on 13 Jan 2013 #

    I’m very much enjoying having a couple of Popular entries (and associated sets of comments) to think over in quick succession, but sadly I’ve nothing to contribute on this one. I’ve always been mystified by the Quo’s appeal, and I’m not in touch with the Premier League stuff (let alone Man U history: I thought they were singing ‘Busty Babes’ at the beginning!).

    One unrelated matter, could anyone identify this (sort of) minimalist techno track for me? I believe I had it originally on an Astralwerks promo/sampler compilation from around 1997-1998, and its key vocal line is ‘Year 2000…., Year 2000…., Year 2000 is right around the corner.’ I have the track marked up in my iTunes mp3 collection just as ‘Track 08’ and as by Gearwhore, but I can’t find anything (e.g., at discogs) by Gearwhore that it could be, nor can I find any track 8s on any listed Astralwerks comps that it could be. It therefore seems likely that my labeling and possibly my memory is spurious (so I recommend just listening from scratch).

    Anyhow, it’s a nifty track (at the time I thought it was easily the best thing on an otherwise indifferent cd), and I’m reasonably confident that it’s not *that* obscure and that someone here will recognize it. (Note that automated tune ID services such as Tunatic, Midomi,…have been no help. Has anyone *ever* found such services able to resolve any genuine mysteries as opposed to confirm the completely obvious?)

    More generally, I have a bunch of under-identified tracks a lot like this one – sole tracks kept from now-only vaguely-remembered techno/dance compilations. If others have similarly infuriating gaps in their iTunes libraries then perhaps communal ID-ing of mystery tracks could be a quasi-regular topic on FT (with some loose convention that no one person should flood the topic), say especially in otherwise fallow periods? I know I’d be happy to listen to other people’s interesting mysteries!

  57. 57
    Jimmy the Swede on 13 Jan 2013 #

    Re 55: “I dreamt that I was Humbert and she was Lolita!”

  58. 58
    wichita lineman on 13 Jan 2013 #

    Re 56: “Busty babes”. Priceless. Well Swan, you had more to say about Man Utd than you thought! That’s on a par with “what’s wrong with being sexy?”

  59. 59
    wichita lineman on 13 Jan 2013 #

    16-8-2-1-2-3-10-11-20. Almost text book chart rise and fall. Can’t say that about the next entry (cough). Or many others to come.

    The reason I looked it up was because I never heard this at the time. Admittedly I was trundling around Europe with a bunch of Chelsea fans for a month, listening (mostly) to the Barry Gibb/Barbra Streisand Guilty album, but I’d assumed it was a hit-and-run #1 over the Cup Final weekend.

    The title, as Erithian and Jimmy know, was stolen from Come On You Leafe.

  60. 60
    Jimmy the Swede on 13 Jan 2013 #

    Leafe it out, Lino!

  61. 61
    rabbitfun on 13 Jan 2013 #

    Re 56: Swanstep, apparently the track is called Year 2000 (!) and it’s by Freaky Chakra. Not that I would know, but the Shazam app helped me out here.

  62. 62
    swanstep on 13 Jan 2013 #

    @61, rabbitfun. Bingo! Thanks so much. And big props to Shazam over competing services such as Tunatic and Midomi for getting this.

  63. 63
    ciaran on 13 Jan 2013 #

    #29 – Just to speak a bit about this point “the Irish jig element no doubt appealing to our nearest overseas fanbase”.

    I would still say Liverpool are marginally the most popular premiership side in Ireland.lot of connections with our history of emigrants going to the area although I knew one or two that went to manchester aswell.

    Liverpool supporters are largely those over 30 years old.

    I was born in Limerick but even then it was nearly all Liverpool amongst our primary school.I can recall the same day of a neighbours 8th birthday party that coincided with liverpool winning the league beating QPR.I would say the support of the birthday crew was very much liverpool in the majority and would imagine any other party the same day were celebrating liverpools win as much as the kop.the support is still high in the area even though there was a couple of united die hards back then.

    now living in cork city (home of one roy keane) im still amazed at the devotion to anfield by some when utd would be the obvious team to follow given keanes assocation with the club and to a lesser extent the 20 year domination.

    that said the last time liverpool won the league in 1990 which of course helped the fanbase grow but 2 other significant events happened the same year. ireland made the world cup quarter finals with staunton,whelan and houghton plying their trade with the pool (as was aldridge the season before) and cork won the double in the national sports hurling and gaelic football wearing red and white shirts a la the pool – only the second time it ever happened in 100 years.for any young fans around this area it may have been a factor so in essence the reason for the devotion to the pool in the 30+ crowd.its been downhil ever since (bar 2005) but they still are passionate about the club which is admirable.

    united support has become bigger you wont be surprised to hear but having watched liverpools champions league win in the pub back in 2005 and uniteds win in 2008 the liverpool one was the busier and most emotional by a country mile.and i dont support either.

    I dont know if you ever heard this but there was a song made in Ireland back in 1996 that was number 1 in the Irish charts the same year.roughly around the same time as euro 96 so Ireland missing out on the tournament in a way could have led to this.terrible but similar to the record being debated.


    Good result today.enjoy

  64. 64
    D.C. Harrison on 14 Jan 2013 #

    Re – 39 “Q: Which act had a top 10 in 1985, changed the WHOLE LINE UP, and had a No1 in 1994?
    A: Manchester Utd.

    Pretty rare feat I thought but Punctum at 2 mentions Bryan Robson’s inclusion, -I thought he’d left by then- and after the chore of watching the video he is there, so that ruins that one.”

    If I was ever going to make a first post on here, it was bound to be a football pedant one. As well as Robbo (who was left off the bench in what could have been a final bow-out before he left to manage Boro), Mark Hughes played in both the 1985 and 1994 cup finals, so was presumably on the records.

    Clayton Blackmore was also on the books until 1994, so may well have added his own Welsh tones to the choir despite being well down the pecking order at those points in his career.

    Anyways – despite my United obssession being at an absolute apex in 1994 (Cantona was God to this very unhappy 13-year-old), I didn’t consider spending what little cash I had on it. However, compared to the absolute tosh we came out with in 1996, it sounds worthy of Holland-Dozier-Holland.

  65. 65
    speedwell54 on 14 Jan 2013 #

    Re 64.

    Thanks for the further info. I stopped looking after Robson to be honest. I know Mark Hughes is on the cover of this one and I’ll take your word about 1985. Interestingly there is no performance credit on the sleeve for COYR about any individual, apart from Jonathan Pearce the commentator. I don’t know what Mr Blackmore looks like so I can’t confirm or deny that one.

    And welcome.

  66. 66
    James BC on 16 Jan 2013 #

    Another rather forgettable entry. There must be something significant along soon – I can feel it in my

  67. 67
    swanstep on 18 Jan 2013 #

    While we await the second coming of Reg Presley to Popular, I have another track identification challenge/appeal for help:
    “Screaming and shouting, no one is watching”
    Can anyone identify this vaguely goth-y, vaguely synthpop-y, vaguely darkwave-y piece? Tunatic, Midomi, Shazam, Soundhound, youtube’s copyright layer, and general lyrics-googling have all drawn blanks. And it’s driving me quite batty that I can’t place the all-too-familiar voice!

  68. 68
    Tom on 18 Jan 2013 #

    Reg Presley update: I’m still ill with a stomach bug so everything has slowed, I’m having to put most of my limited energy into Actual Work. It’ll come though!

  69. 69
    enitharmon on 11 Feb 2013 #

    And meanwhile, as we mourn Reg Presley’s unscheduled and terminal inability to read his own eulogy, another link in the Populista chain was closed at the King’s Head in Moscow Road, Bayswater on Friday night when erithian and my good self enjoyed a couple of beers, a shared plate of fish and chips, and various items of verbal mutiny and sedition.

    Your northern correspondent’s eyes are still smarting at the price of beer in London. Though not, oddly enough, the price of dodgy kebabs which cost much the same as they do up here.

  70. 70
    Auntie Beryl on 12 Feb 2013 #

    You have to assume that the supply of dodgy meat is fairly uniform across Europe. Might see prices rising over the next few months though.

  71. 71
    MikeMCSG on 18 Feb 2013 #

    I think I’ve got it ! I think it’s Our Daughter’s Wedding – there’s a track called “No One’s Watching” at the end of their mini-LP “Digital Cowboy” from whence came bonkers near-hit “Lawnchairs” in 1981 which your track resembles.

  72. 72
    thefatgit on 11 Mar 2013 #

    MoTD and Dancing On Ice stalwart, Tony Gubba has gone for an early bath at 69.

  73. 73
    Jimmy the Swede on 12 Mar 2013 #

    Twas Gubba who was sat behind the goal during the 1985 Cup Final. When Norman Whiteside clipped in the winner, Tony rolled onto his back in celebration. I always felt that Gubba suffered from having been chosen to take over the Sportsnight mantle from David Coleman. An impossible act to follow and I’m afraid that “Sportsnight with Gubba” just didn’t take.

  74. 74
    stebags on 8 Apr 2013 #

    Rancid but marginally better than the Pointer Sisters cover

    “I’m so excited, cos it’s man united, they’re about to score a goal & I think I like it”


  75. 75
    Patrick Mexico on 9 Apr 2013 #

    The worst thing about this is, if you listen to the Top 40 of which COYR made its debut in traditional order (April 30), the next track up is Red Hot Chili Peppers – Under the Bridge. I’m sure many would agree, however much the Chilis have offended British cultural sensibilities over the years, it’s a leap from the ridiculous to the sublime.

  76. 76
    flahr on 9 Apr 2013 #

    Fear not, Patrick, “Under the Bridge”‘s time will come.

  77. 77
    Patrick Mexico on 10 Apr 2013 #

    #76 Haha, indeed! Though when we do get round to that, it will be like tasting pralines and cream Haagen-Dazs turned to gone-off Mr Whippy.

  78. 78
    Gareth Parker on 20 May 2021 #

    Blimey this is a bad record in my opinion. I think it’s worthy of the dreaded 1/10.

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