English football fan chants and songs

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FC Portsmouth 3

FC Portsmouth 3

FC Portsmouth Logo.

Fratton Park in the 1960′s

The Fratton End was a fairly peaceful place in the 1950′s and most of the singing tended to come from the halfway line where the Supporters’ Club gathered. This all changed in the 1960′s when the Fratton End began to attract large numbers of young fans who adopted it as their ‘Kop’. Some trouble also arose from the conflict of home and away fans who were all mixed in together. Strict segregation of home and away fans at Fratton Park was not introduced until the 1970′s when visiting fans were accomodated at the Milton End of the ground.

Except for one season in Division 3 (1961-62), Pompey spent all of the 1960′s in Division 2. Their most successful season was 1967-68 when they were serious promotion contenders until the end of Febuary, but they ran out of steam and finally finished 5th. This was the decade of the Beatles and of the explosion of singing and chanting on Liverpool’s Spion Kop. We don’t have much definite evidence about the singing of the Fratton Enders in the 1960′s, but we suspect it followed much the same pattern as that of the rest of the country, with the rapid spread of football songs and chants.

One strong memory we have is of the young fans kicking the metal fencing, which used to run along the back of the Fratton End stand, to the rhythm: This chant was still popular in the 1990s, but the metal fencing had long since gone, so the fans clapped the rhythm, or sometimes a horn got the chant going.

“X X XXX XXXX Portsmouth”

A popular song during Pompey’s brief flirtation with promotion in 1967-68 was an adaptation of Keith West’s famous pop song “Excerpt from a Teenage Opera”, referring to manager, George Smith:

“Mr Smith, Mr Smith,

Is it true

What they say

We’re gonna win Division To-oo?”

A favourite from the early 1960′s, when Pompey and Saints were both in Division 2, is a version of ‘John Brown’s Body’ referring to Southampton’s star player Terry Paine, which went as follows:

“Terry Paine’s body lies a moaning in the Dell,

Terry Paine’s body lies a moaning in the Dell,

Terry Paine’s body lies a moaning in the Dell,

And the Blues go marching on, on, on.”

Another ‘golden oldie’ from 1967-68 season is an adaption of the Carmen Miranda Forties’ pop hit song “Ay, ay, ay, ay”, now usually sung to the words “We all agree, Nottingham Forest (or whoever) are magic”. The Fratton Enders’ somewhat unrealistic lyrics went as follows:

“Ay, ay, ay, ay,

Milkins is better than Yashin.

Trebilcock is better than Eusebio,

And Millwall are in for a thrashin’.”

Charles Barber who has been a Pompey fan since around 1956 and is still a proud PFC season ticket holder and shareholder, pointed out one song missing from the 1960′s list, though he does add that it never really caught on.

To the tune of the Beetles “She Loves you…’
“Now down at Fratton Park

We cheer the boys in blue

The older side looks dark when we’ve scored one or two

because it’s Pompey

And you know you know they can’t be bad

And it’s Pompey

And you know you should be glad

Pompey yeah yeah yeah

Pompey yeah yeah yeah

Pompey yeah yeah yeah yeah!”

We love you, Portsmouth, we do

This was probably the most popular song of praise of the 1980s. It was sung at any time during the game, but was most common during periods of exciting attacking play or following goals. It was sung with great feeling and usually repeated several times together with synchronised hand clapping.
“We love you, Portsmouth, we do

We love you, Portsmouth, we do.

We love you, Portsmouth, we do.

Oh, Portsmouth we love you.”

This reached a peak of popularity in the mid-1980′s, but its origins are a mystery. We first heard it at Fratton Park sung by Sheffield Wednesday fans in their promotion season in 1983, though we are not sure whether they actually started it. Steve Addison (a Preston fan) believes he heard it at Anfield in the mid-1970′s, but if this is the case it took a long time for the song to catch on generally. Mike Ticher (founding editor of “When Saturday Comes” and Chelsea fan) thinks some credit should go to the Chelsea fans for its popularity though he thinks it may have started at Manchester City in the 1983-84 season. Wednesday fans were also heard singing it during the televised FA Cup game against Southampton in March 1984, though it did not become generally popular until the 1984-85 season when it could be heard on pretty well all grounds. At Fratton Park it became the most popular song (apart from the Chimes) in that season. Its popularity has declined subsequently though it can still b heard at most clubs.

We have not been able to identify the tune, but one theory is that it came from a locally released record on Merseyside in the 1970′s called “We love you Beatles, we do” sung by a female pop group. There are several variations of the basic song. It was often used at Portsmouth in the mid 1980′s as a player greeting for Noel Blake: “We love you Blakey, we do, Oh, Blakey, we love you”. It was also turned on the opposition, particularly following goals against the home team, e.g., “We hate you, Brighton, we do, Oh, Brighton, we hate you”.

And it’s Portsmouth City

This song is one of the popular in the football repertoire and is typically sung with great feeling by large numbers of fans in celebration of a goal or in anticipation of victory. It is sung fairly slowly with the emphasised words being drawn out and accompanied by clenched fists punched into the air. Here is the Portsmouth version
“And it’s Ports-mouth City,

Ports-mouth City F.C.

We’re by far the greatest city

The world has ever seen.”

Variations occur at different clubs. Here is a version sung by Chelsea:
“And it’s super Chelsea,

Super Chelsea, F.C.,

We’re by far the greatest te-eam,

The world has ever seen.”

The tune comes from an old folk song called “The Wild Rover” which tells the tale of a young man reformed from drinking. The football song uses only the tune from the chorus, the original words of which are as follows:

And it’s no, nay, never;
No, nay, never, no more
Will I play the wild rover,
No, never, no more.

Glory, glory, Portsmouth FC

The “Glory, glory” song was Tottenham Hotspur’s famous anthem from the early 1960′s, but is now part of the general football song repertoire. At Fratton Park, the second verse is sometimes sung on its own. It is the sort of song that can occur at any time during a match or during the prematch period, but is most usually heard when the fans are celebrating a goal. It is sung with great feeling and the final “ON! ON! ON!” is punched out vigorously with fists into the air. The final chorus is often repeated and accompanied by synchronous clapping. The tune comes from the traditional American hymn, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”, or more commonly known as, “John Brown’s Body”.
“Mine eyes have seen the glory

Of the gates at Fratton Park.

Mine eyes have seen the glory

Of the gates at Fratton Park.

Mine eyes have seen the glory

Of the gates at Fratton Park.

And the blues go marching … ON! ON! ON!

Glory, glory, Portsmouth F.C.

Glory, glory, Portsmouth F.C.

Glory, glory, Portsmouth F.C.

And the blues go marching … ON! ON! ON!”

According to Spurs’ historian Phil Soar (Ref 8), the song made its first appearance at White Hart Lane in the 1960/61 season when Tottenham achieved the League and FA Cup double. Bill Nicholson, Spurs’ manager at that time, also recalls the anthem in his autobiography “Glory, Glory” (1983), but dates its first appearance a year later. Nicholson describes it thus: “A new sound was heard in English football in the 1961/62 season. It was the hymn ‘Glory, Glory, Hallelujah’ being sung by 60,000 fans at White Hart Lane in our European Cup matches. I do not know how it started, or who started it, but it took over the ground like a religious feeling.”

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