Pitch Invasion! 2: The Equalizer

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Whether you’re priming in the pub or pre-gaming in the parking lot, we all covet those great tunes just before a match. Back by popular demand, here’s the follow-up to our first collection of soccer sing-alongs. Enjoy!

Super Furry Animals – The Man Don’t Give a Fuck

Creation Records, 1996

The Greatest Footballer You Never Saw“: Robin Friday was a beautiful anomaly of the English game. In the days before the ubiquity of globalism and social media in football, Friday thrived between the cracks of myth and mayhem. The hard-living London-born forward scored worldys for the fun of it, yet never earned a cap or won the league. His most iconicly captured moment, motioning a “V sign” at Luton Town’s Milija Aleksic , marked his last term of professional play for Cardiff City in 1977. Fittingly, Welsh Britpop group Super Furry Animals borrowed the image for their single “The Man Don’t Give a Fuck“, released in 1996, six years after Friday’s death from a heart attack. Boasting a record 50 “fucks” in the lyrics, the title epitomizes Friday’s rock star legacy. Despite his post-retirement, alcohol and drug-propelled downfall, one thing remains certain: in his prime, when Saturday comes, Friday turns up.

Pogba x Stormzy

Adidas Football, 2016

Love it or hate it, Paul Pogba’s return to Manchester United was one of the biggest transfers of all time, financially and hype-dly. The final marketing cherry on top was this trap venture from London grime boss Stormzy. While it’s no secret that Pogboom’s got moves, this short, sweet, head-nodding promo makes it official like a referee’s whistle.

The Lightning Seeds – Three Lions (Football’s Coming Home)

Epic, 1996

30 years since England lifted the Jules Rimet trophy, football’s homecoming came in the form of Euro ’96. While the real Three Lions captured third at home, this song from indelible indie idols The Lightning Seeds placed first in UK charts in anticipation of the tournament, and then again leading up to the 1998 World Cup. Moreover, chants inspired by the song infiltrated even Germany celebrations following Die Mannschaft’s 2014 World Cup victory. But not everyone bought into the hosts’ optimistic fanfare. The song was eventually banned in Scottish supermarkets as a result of protests from the Tartan Army. Nevertheless, the alternate Anglo anthem stoked a much needed sense of hope for English fans at an undoubtedly historic moment.

The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu – It’s Grim Up North

KLF Communications, 1991

Perhaps the weirdest entrants on our list, The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu (The JAMs), better known by their more common moniker The KLF, were a British art techno outfit famous for their edgy marketing gimmicks and often controversial performances. Among their most notorious exploits is an incident wherein the band burned £1,000,000.000, the bulk of their career earnings-to-date, on a remote Scottish island. Composed in the groups spirit of art-for-arts-sake, “It’s Grim Up North” is a indictment of towns above the Rivers Dee and Trent, who’s names are dully recited by frontman Bill Drummond to a danceable, albeit apocalyptic, industrial arrangement. The chorus might originate from graffiti found along northbound motorways dating as far back as the 1970s: a message to travelers indicative of “regional imbalance“, according to concerned UK politicians. The expression’s since become a buzz phrase of sorts amongst football fans worldwide, being both used against and appropriated by fans on both sides of rivalries, and encouraging the “weekender offender” culture to persist, along with the music that inspires it, to this day.

Gerry and the Pacemakers – You’ll Never Walk Alone

Columbia (EMI), 1963

I don’t know if I’d feel more ashamed had I left this one out than having had included it. Either way, you knew it was coming, so let’s get it out of the way. This selection was initially written for Rodgers and Hammersmiths 1945 musical Carousel, but it’s best associated in the modern day with our subjects, Gerry and the Pacemakers. Hailing from Liverpool, the Scouse quartet helped pioneer an early pop subgenre known as Merseybeat. The story goes that lead singer Gerry Marsden gifted then Liverpool FC manager Bill Shankly a copy of the cover before its release in 1963. Taken by what he’d heard, the boss subsequently decreed the rendition the club song and it soon spread throughout the region. “YNWA”, was quickly picked up by numerous other clubs – most notably Borussia Dortmund and Celtic FC – but none will ever produce quite the same sentimental value as the Reds’ from Merseyside.

The Streets – Not Addicted

Locked On, 679, 2004

The Streets, or Mike Skinner as he’s known to his mum, has been influential in sustaining the casual culture that’s partly defined the British football scene since the 1970s. In the same way categorizing “punk” effectively invalidates any street cred, Skinner doesn’t dishonestly drop football references into his music. Instead, attention is paid to the peripherals of the life of a bloke who happens to like football. In the case of “Not Addicted”, the peripheral is betting. As the album title suggests, the protagonist is out a grand after the events in the intro, so he attempts to regenerate the funds by steadily gambling on matches in track 3, confessing “Now I don’t know the first thing about football, but my instincts tell me this is my windfall.” After a series of reluctant wins, he decides to cashout after one last, lucrative match that turns out to be a blowout against his favor. Luckily for our hero, he “couldn’t make it to the damn shop.”, sparing him further defeat. From there, the story arcs into a highly entertaining novella that you can only fully appreciate by checking out the album in its entirety.

The White Stripes – Seven Nation Army

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XL, V2, 2003

Every generation of football-watching humans conceives of and adds to the ether a chant that enriches the experience. The White Stripes’ “7 Nation Army” is the muse behind this current generations contribution: I’m not even sure whether or not there’s a name for it so I’ll just, “Oooh, oh-oh oh-oooh, oooh!” Ahem. Not much is known as far as when or why (besides its catchiness) the recital emerged as a sporting ritual, which makes it all that more romantic, but it has been traced as far back as the 2006 World Cup and 2008 Euros. The answer probably lies in some innate tribalism that we’ll refer to as the “We Will Rock You” effect. In any case, let’s not depreciate the innocence by overanalyzing the mystique out of it and just continue to enjoy it’s hypnotic attraction. Jack White does.

THE THROW-IN

Diplo – BBC World Cup Mix

Mad Decent, BBC, 2014

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