The Art of The Football Chant

January 31, 2019 Off By Guillermo Bonepart

Billy Connolly made a very good joke in one of his shows. Growing up in Glasgow he was very aware of the rabid fury that ensues at a Celtic versus Glasgow Rangers old firm game. He observed the animal nature of the chanting and how people coming into the game, even if they’d never been before got the nature of the chant and the celebration when one of the team’s scored.  If only you could hear chanting on the Football Training drill Videos that teams use to help enhance their skills and performance. As soon as the goal went in the entire terrace would erupt into a scripted celebration that everyone got. He mused, amusingly, that there was no one going “um hang on, it’s this followed by that followed by that hand gesture. Right got it! Oh, its half time…”

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The chant at the football match is a clever wisecrack, a taunt and a direct very loud insult all rolled into one. This is not even necessarily directed at the opposition it could be your own players. It is deeply tribal; many psychologists have likened it to the abuse that opposing warbands used to shout at each other to rile up feeling. The equivalent of the Anglo Saxons banging their shield and shouting “Urt!” at the invading Norman army. Players are supposed to blot this out but it’s hard to see how they can. For example, to the tune of That’s Amore;

“When you’re sat in row Z and the ball hits your head that’s Zamora”. A claim by Fulham fans during Bobby Zamora’s inability to score when he played for them.

“You should have stayed on the Telly!” This to Alan Shearer as he failed to save Newcastle United from relegation. He actually took their advice on that.

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“Your teeth are offside, your teeth are offside Luiz Suarez, your teeth are offside”. A good-natured attempt to unsettle the then Liverpool player by the friendly Manchester United Fans. This is very mild compared to some others. Proving that they can laugh at themselves the Liverpool fans provided this total gem to the tune of Blame it on the boogie by Michael Jackson.

“Don’t blame it on the Biscan, don’t blame it on the Hamann, don’t blame it on the Finnan, blame it on Traore. He just can’t, he just can’t, he just can’t control his feet.”

There are lots of others that are just as effective. Saying oooooh before the goalkeeper takes a goal kick, ending with him being excrement is still popular in the lower leagues and there is the euphoric “and it’s (insert team name and repeat) FC! They’re by far the greatest team the world has ever seen.” Even when this is plainly untrue.