New Order can’t get here quick enough – it’s the 1980s in English football songs.
The first FA-endorsed football song came in 1966; World Cup Willie by Lonnie Donegan (his old man’s a dustman) was…well, we’ll just leave that there shall we?
In 1970 the England squad sang Back Home…which is where they stayed for the next decade after failing to qualify for any major tournaments until 1980, where they left the European Championships in the group stage.
England’s 1982 World Cup effort is where we’ll start; it’s called This Time.
It’s not actually all that bad. True, it reminds me a lot of the theme tune for Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads?But there’s a bit of passion in there, and the full brass band treatment after each chorus is actually quite stirring.
More stirring though has to be this image of Kevin Keegan taken from the video – and his obvious musical idol by comparison.
Look at them haircuts. Glorious. The song was written by then-members of Smokie, Chris Norman and Pete Spencer, who also provided Kevin Keegan with his 1979 single Head Over Heels In Love – which reached number 10 in Germany where he was playing for Hamburg. (I’d love him to re-release that, I would LOVE IT.)
Sadly for England they went out in the second group stage – even more sadly, this was without losing a game as they won each game in round one and drew both in round two.
In 1986, the England squad released a Hiller/James/James track called We’ve Got the Whole World at Our Feet – a clever play on the hands thing…which would actually sort of be their undoing that year.
Nah, that one’s pretty cheesy, plus it only managed a mid-60s chart position; maybe they hadn’t quite got the hang of the juggling act that is record song/play football just yet.
In case you missed my brilliant hint of two paragraphs ago, 1986 was of course the year that England – and the rest of the world – got Maradona’d. Diego famously claimed ‘the hand of God’ when he rose over Peter Shilton to punch the ball home during England’s quarter-final match against Argentina, but then followed it up with what is still one of the World Cup’s all-time greatest goals.
In 1988 three gents named Stock, Aitken and Waterman turned up to propose that the whole marching band thing get lost; England players got involved yet again on a song called All The Way.
Jesus Christ. That song is the devil. It really is. I’m just glad I could only find a minute of it. Just the sight of the late great England manager Sir Bobby Robson trying to sway and mime alongside this…this…DISPLAY…of horror. No wonder the team lost all three of its group matches – I’d be embarrassed to turn up for match too if I’d been anywhere near that.
Is it any coincidence that the two best-known and most popular England songs were out in two semi-final years? Didn’t think so. But more on that next time.