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Jan 13

MANCHESTER UNITED FOOTBALL SQUAD – “Come On You Reds”

Popular77 comments • 6,456 views

#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.

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Comments

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  1. 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.”

  2. 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…”

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 41
    Erithian on 11 Jan 2013 #

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

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 44
    hardtogethits on 11 Jan 2013 #

    #39. Was it Trigger’s Broom?

  15. 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).

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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…

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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!

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 54
    MikeMCSG on 12 Jan 2013 #

    # 53 No it’s not. Let’s move on.

  25. 55
    wichita lineman on 12 Jan 2013 #

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

  26. 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!

  27. 57
    Jimmy the Swede on 13 Jan 2013 #

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

  28. 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?”

  29. 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.

  30. 60
    Jimmy the Swede on 13 Jan 2013 #

    Leafe it out, Lino!

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