English football fan chants and songs

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FC Portsmouth 1

FC Portsmouth 1

FC Portsmouth Logo.


If you all hate the scummers clap your hands
If you all hate the scummers clap your hands
If you all hate the scummers, all hate the scummers,
all hate the scummers clap your hands
If you really f*cking hate them clap your hands
If you really f*cking hate them clap your hands
If you really f*cking hate them, really f*cking hate them,
really f*cking hate them clap your hands

He’s just a poor little scummer
He’s face is all tattered and torn
He made me feel sick so i hit him with a brick
And now he don’t sing no more

Run scum whereever you may be
We are the famous pfc
We dont give a fuck whoever you maybe
We are the famous pfc

One man went to kill, went to kill a scummer
One man and his baseball bat went to kill a scummer
Two men went to kill, went to kill a scummer

Stand up if you hate the scum
Stand up if you hate the scum

Cheer up Gordon Strachan,
oh what can it mean
to a sad scummer bastard and a shit football team.


Milan theres only one Milan,
theres only one Milan

Blue Army, Blue Army, Blue Army!

You are my portsmouth, my only portsmouth
You make me happy when skys are gray
I never noticed how much I loved you
Until you take my portsmouth away

There is little doubt that spontaneous collective singing at football matches, as opposed to organised community-type singing, has a very long history. An early example, noted by Tony Mason (Ref 1) in his excellent history of the game, occurred before the 1891 Cup Final when supporters of Blackburn Rovers sang “We’ve won the cup before – many a time”, to which the supporters of Notts County replied with jeers and jibes.

The best evidence we have of collective singing prior to the modern era comes from those special and well-loved songs that have had a long association with particular clubs. For example, “I’m forever blowing bubbles” has been sung at Upton Park by West Ham supporters since the 1920′s, and “On the ball, City” has been linked with Norwich City since the beginning of the century. But the song with the longest history of all, is the famous “Pompey Chimes” of Portsmouth FC.

There is no doubt that the Chimes, in some form or other, has been sung at Fratton Park since the formation of Portsmouth Football Club in 1898. Local newspaper reports of Pompey’s games during their first season in the Southern League Division 1 in 1899-1900 frequently referred to the singing of what was then called the “Town Hall Chimes”.

The first reference to the singing of the Chimes at Fratton Park was in a report of a home match against Brighton United on Saturday, September 23rd, 1899. The banks and stands were packed with 9,000 supporters who gave the visitors “… their first taste of the ‘Town Hall Chimes’ following a shot by the Brighton inside forward, Mercer, which went a long way wide”. The “Shrimps”, as Pompey were usually referred to, in their salmon pink shirts, won the game 3-1 and the second goal “… was the signal for enthusiastic cheers and more ‘Town Hall Chimes’” (Ref 2).

On Saturday 28th October, Portsmouth were at home to Swindon in a preliminary round of the English Cup (forerunner of the FA Cup). Spectators began arriving by 1 o’clock and by 2 o’clock the main stand was full. The Town Band played and both teams were greeted enthusiatically. Pompey trailed 0-1 at half time, but in the second half they equalised and then went ahead through Cunliffe amid more vociferous cheers and “Town Hall Chimes galore” (Ref 3).

Pompey were well supported in those early days and also enjoyed a substantial following at away games, although this sometimes did lead to trouble. For example, on Saturday December 9th 1899 some 500 Pompey fans took advantage of a cheap trip arranged by the Dockyard Excursion Committee to travel to Bristol for a match against Bedminster. At the conclusion of the match, which Pompey won 2-1,some boilermakers from Portsmouth Dockyard who had been waving their banner and cheering vociferously during the game, were set upon by some of the Bristol spectators and several were severely mauled. The flag was rescued after it had been torn from the staff, which was broken. (Ref 4).

The Dockyard boilermakers were loyal supporters of Pompey in those early days and a section of the ground at Fratton Park (the northern corner of the Milton End) was known as the ‘boilermakers’ hump’ where they used to congregate.

Although it is not clear what words were sung to the Chimes in those early days, the official Portsmouth Football Club Handbook for the 1900-1901 season printed the following verse, which is probably a good guide to what they were:

“Play up, Pompey,

Just one more goal;

Make tracks! What ho!

Hallo! Hallo!


The expression “Play up” was a very popular one in the 1890′s and the final “Bong!” presumably echoed the chiming of the hour. The presence of the words “Hallo! Hallo!” in the original Chimes is confirmed by an amusing story reported in the Portsmouth Evening News of December 8th, 1899 concerning 23 year old John Tonks, who was in court charged with using obscene language at 1 o’clock in the morning in Commercial Road. Several witnesses were called and one said that Tonks and others were only singing the “Pompey Chimes”. The newspaper went on to say that the magistrates asked for a demonstration of the song and the witness “… willingly obliged by singing ‘Hallo! Hallo!’ amid much laughter in court”. Unfortunately, the singing was not enough to get Tonks off and he was fined 4s 6d plus 10s 6d costs! (Ref 5)

There are many theories about the origins of the nickname “Pompey” for the city of Portsmouth. The one we like is that it began as the nickname for the football club and afterwards was adopted as the nickname for the city.

The main question that remains is why the Chimes came to be sung at Fratton Park in the first place. The best theory is that they were brought to the ground when Portsmouth began playing there in the 1899-1900 season by supporters of the disbanded Royal Artillery Football Club (RA), which had been the leading football club in Portsmouth in the 1890′s.

The RA played their home games on the United Services ground, which is very close to the Guildhall (then called the Town Hall), and attracted crowds of about 2,000. The original Town Hall was completed in 1890 and the Westminster chimes of its clock must have been clearly heard by spectators on the United Services Ground.

Evidence that the RA supporters may have sung along with the chimes of the clock comes from a letter from an old RA supporter in the Portsmouth Football Mail of Saturday, January 8th, 1949. He recalled watching a game on the United Services Ground when he was only 16 and admission was 2d. The Town Hall clock chimes the quarter and, in those days, referees relied on the clock for the time the game should last. Full time was at 4 o’clock and at 2 or 3 minutes to four the RA were leading, but hard pressed, so the crowd at Reilly’s goal kept lilting in unison with the chimes of the hour, apparently with the idea of reminding the referee to blow his whistle for full time. (Ref 6). It is interesting to note that the singing came from behind the goal, which is, of course, where most of the singing originates in modern football grounds (the “home end”).

The RA club was disbanded in 1899 following an alleged violation of amateur rules in the English Cup; but, some of their players, including the goalkeeper, Reilly, joined the newly formed and fully professional, Portsmouth Football Club. It would be surprising if some of their supporters, their appetites whetted for good quality football, did not follow them to Fratton Park, taking the Chimes with them. The words could then have been added as a means of support for the new club.

The present version of the Chimes dates back at least to the 1920′s when some of Pompey’s more elderly fans remember it being sung as it is now. To hear the Chimes echoing around Fratton Park is one of the finest sounds in modern football. One can also hear it clearly around the city during matches at Fratton Park when the wind is in the right direction. You can even hear the singing from Hayling Island! The tune of the Chimes is a slightly modified version of the Westminister Chimes.

“Play up Pom – pey, Pom – pey play up

Play up Pom – pey, Pom – pey play up”

The Chimes may be sung at any time during a game or during the prematch period though it is most frequently used as an encouragement to the team following the award of a corner, or a free kick near to goal. Unlike many other supportive chants the Chimes is never accompanied by clapping, but the fans often point in unison towards the team as they sing each line.

The basic tune of the Chimes is also used in a number of other chants, including, “Bye, bye, (Brighton)”, “Five-one, five-one”, “Fuck off, (Scummers)” and “Oo-ar, oo-ar” (West Country teams). Pompey fans also have a ‘snarl’ version of the Chimes, usually in response to the opposition singing. Certain other clubs sing a version of the Chimes, for example, “Ee-oh, Oxford, Oxford, ee-oh”.

The tune of the Chimes is used in a totally different context by the Girl Guides as a prayer at the end of a meeting. Apparently, this originates from a military bugle call, “Taps”. In the Guides version, the girls stand in a circle with their eyes closed and sing:

“Oh Lord, our God,

Thy children call,

Grant us thy peace,

Till the sunrise.


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