England Football Songs – 2006: Embrace The Crappy Metaphors

The World At Your Feet, chortle chortle. (And I reveal what actually IS the best football song of all time.)

With an overwhelming stench of aspiration and desperation worse than the one I was assaulted with at the cinema the other night, it’s time for the penultimate chronological instalment of the Alpha Signal Five Guide to English Football Songs – and just in time too as their first game is only a day away.

England world cup songs Embrace 2006

Okay, summer of 2006, let me think. I’ll have just finished my second year of uni and moved out of The House of Pain in Withington (represent). I’ll have been with my lady for a year by then, which means I was still not quite prepared to grow up – hence my doing stuff like nicknaming my modest three-bedroom student accommodation ‘The House of Pain’. And I’ll have been listening to a lot of Real Radio round at her house, ploughing through Smackdown vs Raw GM Mode on her PS2 while she was at work.

That’ll have been where I heard this…this. The thisness that is this.


(My favourite bit: the obvious staging of the band watching David Beckham curl in the free kick against Greece that got England into the tournament, as if for the first time – and the way the guy with the laptop makes a face like ‘and CUT – was that reconstruction good enough, lads?’)

We went from burying Britpop to satirizing lad culture, to two ubiquitous Geordies. How did we get from that to…this thisness? Embrace? Not my cup of tea, mainly because the jauntiness of this song compared to most of their others made me doubt it was even the same band.

This explains a lot about their sound, from a BBC interview with singer Danny McNamara:

[asked if the success of New Order’s England song intimidates them] “New Order are one of my favourite bands. Joy Division, the band before New Order, were one of the reasons I got into forming a band.”

Yeah, that’ll do it. That’ll do it when all your other songs are painful to listen to, and not in the good way like Joy Division’s were. Okay, low blow, but this was an unexpected move! From the plodding dirge of melancholy that their previous singles sound like to me, to this awe-inspiring uplifting track! It’s a bit off. It’s a bit…

(Okay, I’ve just listened to it again, and it’s genuinely dawned on me in the space between this paragraph and the last that the chorus of this song is a note-for-note copy of Lucky Denver Mint by Jimmy Eat World. You know when you’re humming a song, and then start accidentally humming another because it fits together so well?)

“[McNamara was] inspired by the nation’s love of football when the team does well.”

It feels like there’s a bit missing from the end of that sentence, like “…but since that hasn’t happened since before he was born, the band had to make do with stringing a load of old clichés together.”

“The song features the lyrics “there’s no-one you can’t beat” and “you know it’s going to be our time” but does not mention the word “football”.”

Yes, but then you press play on the video and your eyes are assaulted by nothing but gaudy red and white England flags and overpaid footballers for nearly four bloody minutes – you couldn’t physically be any less subtle about football. That is unless you happen to be the creators of what is actually my favourite football song of all time, since you asked.


When was the last time “the team” did well anyway? Was it Three Lions or World In Motion? I can’t remember any more. The England team in 2006 was pretty good, to be honest. Well, they had a former Leeds ‘keeper in goal so I had someone to care about at least. Joe Cole showed some promise with a great goal against Sweden; Michael Owen not so much by having to literally roll off the pitch due to injury in the same game.

England limped past Ecuador in round two before yet another quarter-final meeting with Portugal – and yet another penalty shoot-out loss. Lampard, Gerrard and Jamie Carragher were the guilty parties, with only Owen Hargreaves scoring. England missed two of their prime penalty takers for most of the match, with flare-ups of Beckham’s ankle and Rooney’s temper occurring in the second half.

And so, reduced to ten men on the hour, Brave England were bravely brave for the next half-hour of normal time as well as an additional thirty minutes of bravery in extra time, but then missed out when it was discovered that a good spot kick trumps bravery every brave time. BRAVE.

Next time: the official 2010 England song (there wasn’t one) and the 2014 release (they changed their mind and didn’t release it again for the World Cup). 

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