“Kirsty MacColl wrote a song specifically about England’s 2-0 win over Colombia at France ’98 (or at least going on a bad date to watch it),” wrote Mike Meehall-Wood last week. “I was wondering if there are other songs that specifically mention individual matches?”
Well Mike, the answer is a resounding “Yes”. Here’s Niall Mullen with more: “Years ago when I was doing some work in Russia I kept hearing a song with the lyrics ‘Argentina-Yamaica pyat-nul,’ he says. “I had just enough Russian to realise that this was about the France ’98 shellacking of Jamaica by Batistuta and co. It turns out a Russian band called Chayf composed and performed a reggae song inspired by the pain on the faces of the Jamaican fans at the game. It seems to be something of a cult classic in Russia that fans sing when their own team takes a beating”.
Simon Tyers also gets in touch to tell us about “County Durham indiepop-punk titans Martha”. He notes that 1967, I Miss You, I’m Lonely, from their 2014 album Courting Strong, references Newcastle’s 2012 Europa League exit: “‘Oh God how wonderful it is crossing bridges in the mist, Øresund across the Tejo, behind on aggregate away. But Benfica still went through and we still spent an afternoon, At the Gulbenkian museum sharing stories in the shade, oh what a day.’”
Talking of Newcastle, Jon Goodwin emails to tell of the Richard Dawson song Nothing Important – from the album of the same name – which recounts the singer’s back garden games with his brother: and features the lyric “I’m Maradona, he’s Peter Beardsley”. “I always presumed they were specifically recreating the 1986 World Cup quarter-final,” says Jon, “but who knows?!”
Sticking in the north east, Richard Frank has more: “Indie band Los Campesinos!’ shout-out to my beloved Middlesbrough,” he says, “and Joseph-Désiré Job, who helped us get our hand on what is so far our only major silverware. From What Death Leaves Behind, on the album No Blues, features the line ‘I proofread the book of Job for the Lord, Edit 1: League Cup 2004’, and Glue Me, another song off the same album, contains the wonderful couplet, ‘People laughed and called it folly, But we connected like a Yeboah volley’.”
Slightly further south, we find Strachan by The Hitchers. “It’s about an unspecified Leeds game,” says Matt Kitson. “It’s suggested it’s against Aston Villa, and in it Gordon Strachan scores a hat-trick.” Matt then goes on to note Barcelona’s Kasey Keller, written to celebrate “the eponymous stopper’s performance against Brazil in the semi-final of the 1998 Concacaf Gold Cup.” Tom Fuller and others wanted us to know about Christy Moore’s Joxer Goes to Stuttgart, which is dedicated to Ireland’s win over England at Euro ’88. The game ended 1-0 to the boys in green, after “Ray Houghton got the ball and he stuck it in the net”.
“The Joyful Kilmarnock Blues by the Proclaimers recalls a first trip to Ayrshire to watch Hibs play Kilmarnock,” says Johnny Mac. “It doesn’t mention which specific game between those two sides, but I’d argue it’s a contender.” No such problem with England 2 Yugoslavia 0, recorded by the Adrian Sherwood side-project the Barmy Army. “Originally released as a B-side in 1988, it refers to a qualifier for that year’s European Championships,” says Russell Turner.
Elsewhere, David Ekstrand flags Torsson’s 1980 release Det spelades bättre boll, They Used to Play Better Ball, “Which is about the Swedish 2nd division game on 20 May 1973 between Jönköpings Södra IF and Grimsås IF, at the classic Stadsparksvallen in Jönköping.
And finally, here’s Richard Wilson. “Possibly one of the most important would be Nedelja kad je otisao Hase by Zabranjeno Pusenje. The title translates as “the Sunday when Hase Left” and is ostensibly about the last game played by the legendary FK Sarajevo player Asim Ferhatovic – against Rijeka, in Sarajevo’s title-winning 1966/67 season.
We’ve also previously looked at songs about specific football teams and players.
Heaviest defeats after taking the lead
“Has there ever been a bigger loss after scoring first than FC Rostov losing 10-1 to Sochi?” asked Brad on Twitter last week.
“Corinthians 10, Tiradentes 1 in the 1983 Brazilian First Division ties with Sochi-Rostov,” says Carmine Seu. “Tiradentes (a small side from Teresina, Piaui, in north-east Brazil) shocked São Paulo’s Corinthians by scoring first through a penalty, but Socrates led a major comeback, scoring four times (two of which were penalties and one of which was a free-kick). This is still the biggest win in the Brazilian First Division, and the last time Tiradentes played in the top flight.”
Players switching between the PL and Championship
“Which player has gone back and forth between the Premier League and the Championship most often?” asked Kieran Murray.
“Surely up near the top of the list has to be Herman Hreiðarsson,” emails Eddie Reynolds. “The legendary Icelandic defender has the unenviable record of being relegated from the Premier League five times with five different clubs – Crystal Palace, Ipswich, Wimbledon, Charlton and Portsmouth.’”
Peter Richards, meanwhile, suggests Giampolo Pozzo’s perennially up and coming Matej Vydra, who has had plenty of peeks into the top division after making the Championship look like pub level.
His success in his first season in England – on loan from Udinese to Watford, who were in the Championship – prompted West Brom to snap him up for the 2013-14 Premier League season. But the Hornets took him back a year later, again in the division below, then signed him permanently when they were promoted in 2014-15 before immediately loaning him to Reading, who were in the Championship.
In 2016-17, Watford kindly gave him a solitary Premier League appearance, then sold him to the Championship’s Derby County before the summer window closed, and after a mixed couple of years he’s now in his second season at top-flight Burnley.”
“Did I dream it, or did I really read about all-round legend Diego Maradona enhancing his reputation by once sticking it to George Bush?” enquired Donnie Miles in 2007. “I’m sure he called him ‘garbage’ or something like that. Why?”
It actually happened, Donnie. The Guardian’s report from 5 November recalls the protest: “The tone was struck by Maradona, who wore a ‘Stop Bush’ T-shirt to an anti-Bush ‘counter-summit’ that drew some 4,000 protesters from around the world and easily eclipsed the official summit in the public’s attention. ‘I’m proud as an Argentine to repudiate the presence of this human trash, George Bush,’ said Maradona.”
Can you help?
“The other day, Watford’s Craig Dawson bagged an acrobatic injury time equaliser against Leicester in a game refereed by Craig Pawson. This led me to wonder if any players have been officiated by a namesake in the Premier League?” – Tim Mycroft.
“Are there many good poems about football? I’ve read a few anthologies and collections but very few stand out, aside from Paul Durcan’s World Cup ‘82” – M Stapleton.
“Brighton featured fullbacks Dan Burn and Tariq Lamptey on Tuesday supposedly at 6”7 and 5”3 respectively. Has there ever been such a large height discrepancy between two full-backs?” asks Rhys Cumming.