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We ain't no hooligans, there ain't no football song

Happy June 1st! The start of Euros month! Have you all got your wallcharts up? I have. 43 years of age. Not arsed. There’s something missing from the tournament build up, though. A much missed tradition. There’s no England song.

There’s a very strong argument for the best England song being World In Motion by ENGLANDneworder (make a note of who it’s credited to, because if it comes up in a pub quiz and you put ‘New Order’ and I’m marking your paper, you are NOT getting the point for the artist). One of the music magazines (it was either Q or the NME, I can’t remember) was somewhat unkind about it back in the day, describing it as the moment New Order jumped the shark and saying “Apparently this is the best football song ever. Is there also a prize for Best Aviation Disaster?” Whoever it was, they’ve since gone bust, and good riddance. Although, in fairness, when it was released, Bernard Sumner said “This should be the last straw for Joy Division fans”.

(If you haven’t heard Peter Beardsley having a go at doing the rap, treat yourself. Maybe set aside half an hour or so to mentally process it.)

For singalongability, though, the obvious winner is Three Lions. The FA have allegedly never really liked it and have always though it was too downbeat and defeatist, in a classic example of sporting authorities having no clue about the game they’re supposedly the custodians of and being completely out of touch with the people who support it. I was lucky enough to see Frank Skinner join the Lightning Seeds to perform it at the Hillsborough Justice Concert at Anfield in May 1997, which was a brilliant moment (which may come as a surprise if you’ve been told that no-one in Liverpool supports England). The best performance of it ever was when the Lionesses interrupted Sarina Wiegman’s press conference after winning the Euros, when it actually did come home. What a summer that was.

The 90s was definitely the golden age of England songs. Am I only thinking that because that’s when I was a teenager? Nah, Three Lions is objectively better than This Time. And it wasn’t the only banger that England had for Euro ‘96. England’s Irie by Black Grape (featuring Joe Strummer and ENGLANDneworder veteran Keith Allen) was brilliant, and it’s a real shame it doesn’t get played much anymore. Although if World In Motion was the last straw for Joy Division fans, who knows what Clash fans made of Joe Strummer doing this on Top of the Pops.

Keith Allen may be one of the world’s biggest gobshites, but credit where it’s due, he’s been involved in some cracking football anthems. Under the guise of Fat Les, him, fellow wanker Alex James and Guy Pratt recorded Vindaloo for the ’98 World Cup. It was exactly what a football song should be – nonsensical and great to sing when drunk.

It certainly pissed all over the official effort that year. A song written by Johnny Marr and Ian McCulloch could have been great, but On Top Of The World was the death of Cool Britannia. The dream team of Echo and the Bunnymen, Ocean Colour Scene and the Spice Girls, together at last. And Ian McCulloch didn’t even get any match tickets out of it. Honestly, fuck the FA.

The tournament song tradition has sadly died a death, because quite frankly it was one stinker after another this century. Ant and fucking Dec. The Farm re-recording a song about the Christmas Day Truce on the Western front in 1914 for Euro 2004 was a bit incongruous (although not as weird as Everton covering it for the 1995 FA Cup final). Embrace, God bless ‘em, should have stuck to indie ballads. James Corden massacring a Tears for Fears song was as much of an abomination as it promised to be.

Still, at least we’ve never had to suffer anything as fuck-awful as Don’t Come Home Too Soon, which might as well have been called Please Try Not To Be Totally Shit. And Wales didn’t qualify this year, so I don’t have to cringe through the Manics playing Together Stronger at Castlefield Bowl. (We saw them play it at Swansea the week before our wedding in 2016. It’s one of the reasons I didn’t take Roberts as my name.)

In Latics news, we’ve finally signed a right back (presumably a ‘proper right back’ and not a ‘right wing back’), and he’s the most Australian looking man in Britain. Welcome to Boundary Park, Reagan.

Enjoy the summer, dare to dream, and try not to get too angry about our perceived lack of signings or whether or not the new kit is any good or not. It’ll be reet. And it’s coming home. KTMFF.

Written by Arlene Finnigan

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