As it’s music awards season here we pay a lighthearted tribute to those who’ve sacrificed good taste and shown off their musical talents in the pursuit of World Cup Glory.
The David Haye hubris award goes to…Ally’s Tartan Army (1978)
Here’s the problem with World Cup songs- get too cocky and you end up with egg on your face- in this case Scotland wound up with a whole omelette to clean up! Andy Cameron appeared on Top of The Pops telling everyone Scotland were going to win the World Cup, worth repeating isn’t it- Scotland were going to win the World Cup!
Presumably this didn’t make the footballing superpowers of Peru and Iran quake in their boots and the Scots were home before the postcards, but it’s worth watching this video just to hear the hope in their voices. 40 years on Scotland has never quite got over Ally’s Army
The Do You Remember the first Time? Award goes to…Ron’s 22 (1982)
OK England’s 1970 ‘Back Home’ was truly the first World Cup song but this was the first one I remember. And who could forget this- the day Ron Greenwood’s men marched into Abbey Road and walked in the footsteps of The Beatles (sort of). Pop veteran Kevin Keegan lead his men that included future pop legend Glenn Hoddle, Ray Wilkins (sporting actual hair) and Liverpool heart-throb Phil Thompson. They sung of being Ron’s 22 and the red, white and blue and sported some lovely matching jumpers, everyone seemed to have a good time except Trevor Brooking whose expressions resemble a man who’s been stood in the post office queue too long. Still there’s something endearingly naff about ‘This Time’ unlike every other awful England tournament song of the ’80s.
The Clive Sinclair it seemed like a good idea at the time award goes to…Germany & The Village People (1994)
This one really is hard to believe actually happened. Was it the need to prove Bavarian scientists had finally cracked that mysterious humour gene? Or worries that the sight of all conquering Germans might not play well with their American hosts? Whatever the reason their Tutonic Majesties felt the need to show their lighter side in 1994. So they decided to record a song with an American music icon, sadly Elvis had passed away and Diana Ross was busy so it came to pass that Die Mannschaft duetted with The Village People (you really couldn’t make this up). What followed was 3 minutes of unintentional comedy gold and an early World Cup exit. Perhaps Diana Ross should have picked up the phone- she might have recorded a better song and they would’ve shown her how to take a penalty in the opening ceremony.
The Thom Yorke upbeat song award goes to…Del Amitri (1998)
20 Years on from Ally’s Army Scotland decided to go with something a little more sombre. It was only 2 years on from Euro 96 and the SFA were clearly looking for a Scottish 3 Lions- a song with a downbeat start and terrace anthem crescendo sung by an Indie band. But whereas England hired the ever perky Lightning Seeds, Scotland went for Del Amitri. For the uninitiated all you need to know about this band is their Greatest Hits Collection was called ‘Hatful of Rain’ and that’s exactly what they delivered. It’s not that ‘Don’t Come Home Too Soon’ is a bad song (it’s actually quite a good tune) it just misses the entire point of a World Cup song- send your team away with hope in their hearts, this sent Scotland away with the message ‘try not to be too rubbish!’ Since 1998 Scotland’s anthem has been ‘Don’t Bother Going.’
The let’s kill the World Cup song stone dead award goes to…Ant & Dec (2002)
Ever wonder why nobody bothers with World Cup songs anymore? Because England graced the first World Cup of the millennium with this sh@te! Ant & Dec may be the darlings of Saturday night TV but they were also awful 90s popsters PJ & Duncan- a truly hideous act laughably nominated as Best Newcomer on the Brit Awards the same year as Oasis. This song is so bad it makes you wish Ant really had been blinded by that paintball on Byker Grove and Dec was forced to eat Kangaroos testicles on ‘I’m a Celebrity.’ Stick to TV lads!
The It’s not quite Three Lions but it’s close Award goes to…Embrace (2006)
Forgive me for a bit of minor celebrity name dropping but I’ve met Danny McNamara from Embrace and he’s a lovely bloke and his band aren’t without their merits i.e. Sound a bit like Oasis, Available at short notice etc. After the Ant & Dec disaster of 2002 England went back to the light Indie Band formula of Euro ’96 and this time hired Huddersfield’s finest. It’s not a bad song but not quite there and thoroughly underwhelming providing a mirror image of England’s 2006 World Cup bid.
And the Lifetime Achievement Award for Actually Recording a Good World Cup Song goes to…New Order 1990
It’s seems only fitting we end our journey through the pop doldrum of World Cup records with that rarest of things- a good football song! New Order provided a great tune for England’s Italia ’90 odyssey with a cocktail of rave culture, indie beats and football anthem and all that despite the ever annoying presence of Keith Allen! Topping it off was John Barnes atoning for the ‘Anfield Rap’ with a neat rap to finish the song (just imagine if it’d been Gazza!) and send England to their best World Cup in living memory.
Football fan, follower of England, Leeds and will watch any game possible (between raising twins!)