A football chant or terrace chant is a song or chant sung at association football matches. They can be historic, dating back to the formation of the club, adaptations of popular songs, plagiarised, a mock of the originals, spontaneous reactions to events on the pitch. They are one of the last remaining sources of an oral folk song tradition in the United Kingdom. Traditions vary from country to country and team to team, but they are generally used either to encourage the home team or slight the opposition. Not only do fans sing songs to directly slight the opposition they are playing that day; many teams sing songs about their club rivals, even if they are not playing them.
Some chants are spoken, typically in call-and-response format and often accompanied by percussion. For example, Chilean national football team fans will do a routine whereby one group of fans will chant "Chi-Chi-Chi", and another group will respond "Le-Le-Le". For the Indonesia national football team one group of fans will chant "In-Do-Ne-Sia" with an air horn and hand clap in response. "Garuda Di Dadaku" is sung by fans when Indonesia plays at home.
Popularised at the Sydney Olympics and used by Australian football supporters everywhere is the "Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi" chant between two groups of supporters. It is a derivation of Welsh rugby chant "Oggy Oggy Oggy", which was also adapted by Chelsea supporters in tribute to Peter Osgood.
Chants based on hymns and classical music
Several football chants are based on hymns, with "Cwm Rhondda" (also known as "Guide me, O thou great redeemer") being one of the most popular tunes to copy. Amongst others, it has spawned the song "You're not singing anymore!". "We can see you sneaking out!", "We support our local team!" and "I will never be a Blue!".
Various teams have used the chant "Glory Glory" (followed by "Tottenham Hotspur", "Leeds United", "Manchester United", etc.), to the tune of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic". Hibernian were the first team to popularise the song with the release of a record by Hector Nicol in the 1950s ("Glory Glory to the Hibees").
Many football crowd chants/songs are to the tune of "La donna è mobile" from Giuseppe Verdi's opera Rigoletto, for example the chant by Derby County fans in honour of Fabrizio Ravanelli of "We've got Fabrizio, you've got fuck allio".
Chants based on spirituals and folk songs
Some chants are based on spirituals. "We shall not be moved" and "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" are both used by fans. An example of the latter's use was "He's got a pineapple on his head" aimed at Jason Lee due to his distinctive hairstyle. The song was later popularised by the television show Fantasy Football League.
The tune to the Shaker song "Simple Gifts" has spawned many terrace chants including "Carefree", a chant associated with Chelsea, though it was originally Chesterfield fans who adapted this. It was also used for a Tottenham song abusing Sol Campbell after his move to Arsenal in 2001 and was sung by Manchester United fans, in honour of Park Ji-Sung.
The Geordie folk song "Blaydon Races" is associated with Newcastle United. Other folk songs to have their lyrics altered include "The John B. Sails" to "We Won it 5 Times" by Liverpool fans, "She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain" to "We'll Be Coming Down the Road" by the Scotland national team and Liverpool fans, "My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean", "The Wild Rover" and "Camptown Races", which is used for "Two World Wars, One World Cup", whilst Birmingham City fans sing "Keep Right On to the End of the Road".
Italian tifosi are strongly used to sing mocks based on national, and internationally famous folk tunes, like Uva fogarina, Oh, Susannah and Alouette.
"The Fields of Athenry" is a widely used anthem by Irish sports fans, sang particularly at rugby and football matches. The song was adopted and reworked by Liverpool fans as "The Fields of Anfield Road".
Chants based on popular music
Several football chants are based on popular music. Music hall songs such as "My Old Man (Said Follow the Van)", "Knees Up Mother Brown", "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles", "I Came, I Saw, I Conga'd" and "Two Little Boys" all form the basis of terrace chants. Popular standards such as "Winter Wonderland", the Cuban patriotic song "Guantanamera" and the 1958 Eurovision entry "Volare" are also widely adapted to suit players and managers. The tune "Tom Hark" is often played at many stadiums following a goal by the home team and for chants such as "Thursday Nights, Channel 5", whilst "Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)" by Doris Day is generally reserved for matches where the venue of the final is Wembley Stadium.
Music of the 1960s influenced terrace chants. "Ring of Fire" by Johnny Cash and "That's Amore" by Dean Martin have been used by several sets of fans. "Lola" by The Kinks, and "Hi Ho Silver Lining" by Jeff Beck have been adapted by several clubs such as Sheffield Wednesday and Wolverhampton Wanderers. "All You Need Is Love", "Hey Jude" and "Yellow Submarine" by The Beatles are often used. Songs from musicals have become very popular as football chants, such as "Chim Chim Cher-ee" from the 1964 musical Mary Poppins.
The emergence of funk and disco in the 1970s also made its mark on the terraces with songs such as "Go West" by the Village People and "Oops Upside Your Head" by The Gap Band remaining popular amongst fans. Music popular in the 1980s and 1990s is also used widely. Chants have been based on "Just Can't Get Enough" by Depeche Mode, "Love Will Tear Us Apart" by Joy Division, "Pop Goes the World" by Men Without Hats, the Band Aid song "Do They Know It's Christmas?", "Papa's Got a Brand New Pigbag" by Pigbag and "This Is How It Feels" by Inspiral Carpets. Other chants have used tunes from on pop songs include "Three Lions", the official England anthem for Euro '96 and Manic Street Preachers song "If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next".
More recent releases to have their music appropriated include "Re-Rewind" by The Artful Dodger. "Seven Nation Army" by The White Stripes has found extreme popularity across nations - most notably emerging during 2006 FIFA World Cup by fans and players of the Italy national football team.
Chants based on advertising jingles, nursery rhymes and theme tunes
Football crowds also adapt tunes such as advertising jingles, nursery rhymes and theme tunes. "The Farmer in the Dell" known in some regions as 'The Farmer Wants A Wife', provides the famous chant of "Ee Aye Addio", a tune which also provides the first bars of the 1946 be-bop jazz classic "Now's The Time", by alto saxophonist Charlie Parker. The marching tune "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" is also used a basis for songs, such as "His Armband Said He Was a Red", sung by Liverpool fans in honour of Fernando Torres while he was still at the club. Chelsea fans then adapted the chant to match their own colours when Torres was transferred to the London club in 2011, with "He's now a Blue, he was a Red." The children's song "Ten Green Bottles" became "Ten German Bombers", to the tune of "She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain," both songs used by English fans to their main rivals, Germany. The nursery rhyme "This Old Man" is sung by both supporters of Manchester United and Manchester City.
Some football teams also have songs which are traditionally sung by their fans. The song "You'll Never Walk Alone" from Carousel is associated heavily with Liverpool and Celtic. In 1963, the song was covered by Liverpool group Gerry and the Pacemakers, which prompted the song's adoption by the Kop. At this time, supporters standing on the Spion Kop terrace at Anfield began singing popular chart songs of the day. The mood was captured on camera by a BBC Panorama camera crew in 1964. One year later, when Liverpool faced Leeds in the FA Cup final, the travelling Kop sang the same song and match commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme commended the "Liverpool signature tune". Since the late 1920s, fans of West Ham United F.C. have sung the song "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles" at both home and away matches. Supporters of Hibernian are known for singing "Sunshine on Leith" due to the song's composers and performers The Proclaimers being well known Hibernian supporters and the song's reference to Hibernian's home in Leith and as such the song has become an unofficial club anthem. The club has in the past also played other songs by the pair at its home ground Easter Road, such as "I'm on My Way", though none have the same association with the team that "Sunshine on Leith" does.
Manchester City is strongly associated with the classic popular song "Blue Moon". The song is now an established and official part of the club's brand and culture: 'Blue Moon' is also the name of the club's leading fansite, images of a blue moon (a moon that's blue in colour, not the astronomical phenomenon) appear on licensed and fan-made clothing and merchandise, and the team's mascots are a pair of blue aliens from the moon named 'Moonchester' and 'Moonbeam'.
"Go West" by the Village People has been co-opted by fans of Arsenal F.C., using the words "1-0 to the Arsenal" as a reference to the club's defensive style of football under former manager George Graham. The same "1-0 to the Arsenal" was also often sung, in ironic spirit, by fans of opposition by way of mocking their perceived boring style of play during this time.
"Marching on Together" is played and sung at Elland Road by supporters of Leeds United, and is one of the few club songs specifically written for the football club in question, being an original composition by Les Reed and Barry Mason. It was first released as the B-Side to Leeds United to coincide with the 1972 FA Cup Final.
Supporters of Sheffield Wednesday regularly sing the words "Honolulu Wednesday" to the tune of "Honolulu Baby"; a song which featured in the 1933 film Sons of the Desert starring Laurel and Hardy. Across the city, Sheffield United F.C. fans celebrate the start of home games with a chorus of The Greasy Chip Butty Song.
Before every match, Nottingham Forest fans sing "Mull of Kintyre", replacing "Mull of Kintyre" with "City Ground", and "Mist rolling in from the sea" with "Mist rolling in from the Trent". "Mull of Kintyre" has also been adopted by Charlton Athletic, with Valley, Floyd Road and the Thames similarly being referenced.
"Can't Help Falling in Love" has been adopted originally by Sunderland as well as several other teams including Huddersfield Town, Hull City, Preston North End, Rotherham United, Swindon Town, Swansea and AFC Wimbledon.
"Sailing" (originally by the Sutherland Brothers, but most commonly associated with Rod Stewart) is sung by Chesterfield fans, usually whenever the Spireites look to be 'sailing' to victory. A much faster-tempo version of the melody is used by Millwall F.C. fans for their famous chant "No one likes us, we don't care".
On 11 May 2004, Jonny Hurst was chosen as England's first "Chant Laureate". Barclaycard set up the competition to choose a Chant Laureate, to be paid £10,000 to tour Premier League stadia and compose chants for the 2004–05 football season. The judging panel was chaired by the Poet Laureate Andrew Motion, who said "What we felt we were tapping into was a huge reservoir of folk poetry."
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- Terrace Chants
- 50 Best Football Chants (FourFourTwo)
- USA Football Chants and Songs
- World football's 25 best chants (Bleacher Report)
- The 23 songs that most modern football chants are based on
- The Joy of Six: Football Chants