It’s thanks to the son of a (musical) legend that I have an opportunity to look again at:

World Cup Willie

When you’ve been walking round the shops you can’t help but spot some England/World Cup tat. Everywhere you turn your head there’s some more. It’s on plates, napkins, mugs.. shoes… and bras !

All of this can be traced back to 1966, when the World Cup memorabilia cash-in started with the above mascot. Which was actually the first one.

World Cup Willie was the creation of commercial artist Reg Hoye and from this came beer glasses, badges, cuddly toys… to name a few. In fact anything with a Willie on it is still very collectable today.

Also to tie in with this very first mascot a World Cup song was recorded…

The tune, which was officially backed by the F.A, was sung by Lonnie Donegan – the King of Skiffle.

[For those of you who don't know your musical history] If it wasn’t for Lonnie Donegan there’d be no Beatles, or any Rolling Stones. In 1956 a BBC Light Programme played a record that changed everything for any child listening. That song was “Rock Island Line“. After this they all wanted to pick up a guitar and play in a skiffle band. In his career Donegan had 24 hit singles, and spent 321 weeks in the UK charts.

– In 1965 to promote the mascot and World Cup, he recorded this single:

Lonnie Donegan - World Cup Willie » Lonnie Donegan – World Cup Willie

» Where In The World Are We Going


But the story doesn’t end there…

We now go forward 45 years and to Lonnie Donegan Jnr, the son of the legend. To commemorate this World Cup he has re-recorded the above song.

A bit of background first..

With no official England World Cup song this year, World Cup Willie, the very first world cup song, has been brought out of retirement to cheer our lads on. Of course it is only fitting that the son of the original singer, Lonnie Donegan, should have the honour of re-recording it for the 2010 World Cup. This stunning new version of World Cup Willie (2010) by Lonnie Donegan Jnr has been produced with the football anthem in mind. It ticks all the right boxes to be taken to football supporters hearts. It has been completely revamped and will stir modern football fans to join in with the chorus when they hear it.
Lonnie Donegan Jnr
Singing on the terraces has been a tradition at football matches throughout the years, adding to the atmosphere of the occasion. In 1966, when England last brought the cup home, a little fella called World Cup Willie was introduced as the first world cup mascot, a lion with a Union flag on his jersey. Some believe Willie helped England to glory that year, but whether he did, or didn’t, Willie was the first World Cup mascot, and he inspired the very first world cup song, sung by The King of Skiffle, Lonnie Donegan.

Lonnie Jnr, the eldest of Donegan’s sons, didn’t see his dad much as he was growing up in Margate, but he did have music in his veins. Piano lessons didn’t last for long, but he moved on to drums, and later the rhythm guitar after his dad pointed out that he was never going to make his way in music if he didn’t get to the front of the stage. With the public showing a renewed interest in his father’s career, Lonnie Jnr had the opportunity to be present at some of his father’s best live gigs, and he jumped at the chance to play percussion for the opening show of his British tour “This Could Be The Last Time” tour, along with his brother. Unfortunately it was the last time Lonnie Jnr played with his father, as the tour was cut short by Donegan’s untimely death…

…Bands such as The Beatles would readily admit that it was Lonnie Donegan songs that inspired them to pick up musical instruments for the first time. His contribution to British musical culture will live on, and son Lonnie Jnr will continue in his footsteps, performing some of his most popular songs to skiffle fans everywhere.

This version (because of the tournament’s location) has a South African influence:

Lonnie Donegan Jnr - World Cup Willie 2010 Lonnie Donegan Jnr - World Cup Willie (2010):

Link to video

The single will be available on June 7th via all the major download sites.

More info:

One Reply to “World Cup Willie”

  1. Hi there,

    I feel like I am at school again… I loved school! Thank you for these informative, insightful words…


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