Bristol Leadbelly Rovers

I want to pay tribute to the lowest league positioned team in this weekend’s FA Cup Quarter Finals.

Bristol Rovers after they won promotion to League One

Imagine that. Playing in the old Division 3 and in the last 8 for the FA Cup.
Well done chaps and best of British to you.

They are playing high flying West Brom in the late kick off on Sunday and obviously the odds are stacked against them, but who’s to say. Nobody expected Barnsley to turn Liverpool over…

I went on a research trip to find any songs or music associated with the club and found on their Wikipedia page this bit:

The song which is synonymous with Bristol Rovers is “Goodnight, Irene“, which was written by Leadbelly. It is sung by fans in support of the team.

Opinions differ as to how this came about but it is thought to have become popular in the 1950s when a version of the song was in the British charts – the line “sometimes I have a great notion to jump in the river and drown” – seemed to be particularly apt when Rovers lost as the Bristol Frome flows alongside the old Eastville ground.

Another theory is that it was sung at a fireworks display at the Stadium the night before a Home game against Plymouth Argyle in the fifties. During the game the following day, Rovers were winning quite comfortably and the few Argyle supporters present began to leave early prompting a chorus of “Goodnight Argyle” from the Rovers supporters – the tune stuck and “Irene” became the club song.

(The name Leadbelly might ring a bell - Nirvana covered one of his songs )

There’s no need for me to tell the whole story behind the song or about Leadbelly because Pitch Invasion has this very excellent article about the whole thing. Seriously. Take some time and go and read it.

In the meantime I’ll post the original and a couple of different takes on the much covered song:


» Leadbelly – Goodnight Irene

» Brian Wilson – Goodnight Irene

» Frank Sinatra – Goodnight Irene

One Reply to “Bristol Leadbelly Rovers”

  1. Billy says:

    PJ Harvey sang this as an encore at a gig in the Academy in NYC in the mid-90s. I never clocked her for a Gas fan, I have to say.


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