On The Ball City

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Stephen Fry

Stephen Fry
"Bravo there Norwich City, good show old chaps."

I’ve never been anywhere near Stephen Fry when he’s watching them play at Carrow Road so I’m imagining this his how he cheers his team, but I’m stereotyping him. I know that the actor, screenwriter, author, playwright, journalist, poet, comedian, television presenter, film director and a director of Norwich Football Club isn’t your stereotypical football supporter. He’s not even typical Oxbridge. Loves a game of football. You can also find him posting tweets about the darts and snooker. Very much a man of the people. He has the common touch.
There I go again…

But he and Norwich should both be commended. They have a well run football club and so far haven’t succumbed to that second season syndrome. This is because they have one of the smartest football managers around. The previous one who jumped ship for a “bigger” club is currently heading for relegation. I hope they are able to secure their mid-table position and go on a good cup run. It would be entertaining for all of us – and of course for Stephen Fry.

To the music:

Did you know that Norwich have the world’s oldest football song:

“On The Ball, City” (sometimes abbreviated ‘OTBC’ in writing), the Norwich City F.C. song, is described as the world’s oldest football song still in use today; the song is in fact older than the club itself having probably been penned for Norwich Teachers or Caley’s FC in the 1890s, and used by clubs such as Swifians and Norwich CEYMS before being adopted by Norwich City.

There have been lots of discussion about the song and lyrics: Sing Up The River End ! has a more in depth look.

Surprisingly though for a song that old there are not all that many version out there. If you count the last one below as a proper song then there are only three. (But if you know of any more please get in touch.)

The first and probably best is from 1959:
» On The Ball City – 1959 Version

Then there’s this terrible cover:
» Johnny Cleveland – On The Ball City

And finally we return to the gentleman featured above. Stephen is a tech geek and was trying out Songify. It’s an iPhone app where you record yourself just talking and it turns that talk into a song. Sort of like autotune.

Stephen Fry – On The Ball City (Songify version):

EXTRA TIME:

A repost of a different old song about Norwich City:

» Chic Applin Sound – Norwich City Calypso

Read more about that and other calypso tunes here.


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