I’m a football-obsessed jazz musician and record collector based in London. To keep busy over the lockdown I’ve been working on a project to digitally restore and reissue some of my football-themed 78rpm records from the 1910s, 20s and 30s.
The album is available via Bandcamp and is a bargain at only a fiver. For that you get 17 vintage songs and a detailed illustrated booklet with the background to the artists and to football at the start of the 20th century.
Going to highlight a few of the tracks here, as well as some of the text from the accompanying booklet:
– The very first one from Sidney Kyte & His Piccadilly Hotel Dance Band, the music sounds very familiar. There are lyrics, a sample:
Oh I do like to see a game of football,
When Saturday afternoon comes ’round,
Hip, Hooray! When they break away,
The cheers roll ’round the ground.
Oh I do do like to see a game of football…
The tune also has some of those essential ingredients to a football song – some commentary of a match during the song, as well as a bonus of the chatter from a few of the fans watching.
Extract from the booklet:
We open with the rousing ‘I Do Like To See A Game Of Football’ from 1932, performed by violinist Sidney Kyte and his Piccadilly Hotel dance band. In 1920s and 30s Britain 11-piece groups such as these – the forerunners of the ‘big bands’ of the 40s and 50s – were by far the most ubiquitous form of musical ensemble. Some of the most successful dance band leaders became household names and national icons, the pop stars of their day – although Sidney Kyte himself was not quite one of these. The rank-and-file musicians who staffed the bands (overwhelmingly, boisterous youngsters) were generally known to be football-mad, and as well as producing a small but significant canon of football-themed records over the years were also not above forming teams themselves and contesting inter-band matches, the results gleefully reported in the new music weeklies such as Melody Maker
This next track even older than the above celebrates going to the newly constructed Empire Stadium.
‘Wembling At Wembley’ was recorded to celebrate and advertise the opening of the 1924 British Empire Exhibition, of which the vast Empire Stadium (later known as just Wembley Stadium) was only one element.
In 1924 the Lancastrian bandleader Jack Hylton was a rising force on the London scene, and kept in touch with his roots following the fortunes of his hometown side, Bolton Wanderers. Mere months before this record was cut, Wanderers had prevailed over East London’s West Ham United in the inaugural Wembley Cup Final, a landmark spectacle forever immortalised as the ‘White Horse’ Final. And here is Jack celebrating the scene of The Trotters’ greatest triumph on shellac: a coincidence surely, but a happy one worth noting.
A tune now with a celebration of Chelsea winning a cup:
But – as Nick writes…
On the face of it, Norman Long’s 1934 song ‘On The Day When Chelsea Went And Won The Cup’ appears curious. Whilst one might sensibly assume it was recorded in the wake of a famous victory (or in heady anticipation of one that ultimately failed to materialise), at the date of recording Chelsea F.C. had in fact never won the F.A. Cup. However, in an early example of footballing ‘trolling’, this is in fact the whole point! Long (evidently not a fan) derives great comic result from comparing the likelihood of a Wembley triumph for the long-suffering Blues to an extended list of other ludicrously improbable occurrences such as doctors writing legible prescriptions, the sun shining in Manchester, and our own Jack Hylton conducting a chamber orchestra.
Three examples there then, with some interesting background about the artists and stories behind the songs. It is worth grabbing the full album which as mentioned comes with a 22 page illustrated, annotated pdf booklet. » Download/purchase here.