They all tell a story of a particular match played by the subject of the song.
Starting with what is possibly the best musical footballing song there is…
This track set the standard for how an f&m tune should be – other bands please take note.
The band is The Hitchers who hail from Limerick (not to be confused with a recently formed band based in Teeside who have taken the same name). The original Hitchers had the honour of recording a Peel Session in 1997 and this particular track made it onto the Festive Fifty in that same year.
The subject was Gordon Strachan and his time at Leeds United, specifically about one match. The opposition isn’t mentioned and the actual game may not have even taken place. It may be more artist licence taken by the writer of the song, the drummer of the band – one Niall Quinn.
Yes he’s probably heard that a thousand times. Let’s continue shall we ?
A few years ago the music fanzine No Pictures interviewed Mr Quinn and asked him about the track:
No Pictures: Have you ever met Gordon Strachan?
Niall Quinn: No, but we’ve come very close on a couple of occasions. He was fifty feet away from us at the Phoenix Festival but behind a security barrier.
NP: Do you know whether he has heard the song?
NQ: He has and apparently quite likes it. I’ve spoken to him a few times on the phone.
NP: Peel played it long before it was released. How’d he get hold of it?
NQ: John Peel had a copy of the “..Fun & Games..” LP because it was released in Ireland 3 months before it came out in the UK.
NP: When did you write that song?
NQ: I originally wrote it in 1992 and it sounded like a dodgy ripoff of Teenage Fanclub’s “Starsign”. So a year or two later when he retired I got all melancholic and re-wrote it. The team-mates mentioned aren’t the championship winning side. They’d have played briefly together Sept/Oct 93 when Leeds were about 14th in the league.
Have a listen/download of the song and then please buy some of their products to the right:
Track number two comes from Alistair Griffin, who appeared on the BBC’s Fame Academy a few years ago. His (cheeky) ode to a player comes in the form of Mark Viduka who was rolling around the pitch for Middlesboro at the time.
Griffin was known for performing comedy versions of some songs at his concerts and when he was singing at a charity event at Boro’s Riverside Stadium…
This via Wikipedia:
… After his performance of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”, he asked the audience if they would like to hear an alternative version, based on Cohen’s song, but with new words dedicated to the Boro hero at that time, Australian striker Mark Viduka. Keeping faithfully to Cohen’s melody, Griffin’s almost plaintive vocals are sung to a simple acoustic backing, forming a contrast to the altered lyrics which reference the particular skills of Viduka and several other popular players in the team, as well as some of their opponents, in a sharply observed and witty commentary.
After hearing the tongue-in-cheek tribute, Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate was so taken with it he asked Griffin to make a special recording to play at the following day’s match. It was played to the crowd at half-time and to the players in the dressing room after the game…
…The incident received global press coverage, most of it positive… It was immediately picked up by hundreds of online sports pages and blogs. The Mark Viduka song was added to Griffin’s MySpace page the following day and clocked up over 75,000 plays by football fans worldwide…
|» Alistair Griffin – Mark Viduka|
The next song is by a band who echo The Hitchers somewhat: Instead of a group member having an associated with football name, it was the band who named themselves – Barcelona.
The band were originally from Arlington Virginia but are now defunct.
The player was the U.S.A goalkeeper Kasey Keller and unlike the above two songs and their semi-truthful accounts, this game actually took place.
The match was a 1998 CONCAFAF Gold Cup game in which the USA beat Brazil 1-0, thanks mostly in part to the heroics of Keller in the USA goal making 10 saves that day. Romario later on remarked: “That is the best performance by a goalkeeper I have ever seen.”
The band Barcelona then immortalised Keller in song: