English football fan chants and songs

The best football chants from England

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FC Portsmouth 7

FC Portsmouth 7

FC Portsmouth Logo.


Those were the days, my friend
This is a splendidly unifying football song, dating back to the late 1960′s in which the fans sing of their loyalty and fighting prowess. It was always sung with a great deal of gusto when the fans are in happy and confident mood about the state of the game. A leader often started the ball rolling with “Those were … ” at which point the rest of the fans quickly join in with synchronous clapping. The following version was sung at Fratton Park:
“Those were the days, my friend,

We are the Fratton End,

We’ll sing and dance

Forever and a day.

We lead the life we choose

We fight and never lose

Those were the days …

Oh, yes! Those were the days.

La, la, la, la, la, la.

La, la, la, la, la, la.

La, la, la, la,

La, la, la, la, la, la … ” (fading)

The tune is “Those were the days my friend”, a number 1 hit song in 1968, written by Gene Raskin and recorded by Mary Hopkins.

The following version was reported by Simon Jacobson at Chelsea in 1975.
“We are the Shed, my friends.

We took the Stretford End.

We’ll sing and dance

And do it all again.

We live the life we choose,

We fight and never lose,

For we’re the Shed …

Oh, yes! We are the Shed.”

Simple supportive chants
A very popular form of team chant is that in which the fans simply call out in unison the name (or nickname) of their team. Here are some typical examples of this type of chant. Clapping is shown as X-X-Xs.

At Fratton Park, a popular chant, at least until the late 1980s was the club name split into three distinct syllables, “Pee-orts-muf”, with the middle syllable being held on slightly longer than the others. The fans typically threw their arms into the air as they called the team name and clapped with their hands above their heads. The whole operation, if performed well, was impressive to the eye and the ear. The chant dates back to the early 1960′s and is typically used to express praise or encouragement following a good attack or a goal, though it may be used at any time during the game for general encouragement.
“Pee-orts-muf! XXX”

Other clubs had their own version of this chant, with the appropriate club name substituted; e.g., “The Arse-nal”, “U-ni-ted”. In those cases where the club name had only two syllables the chant was simplified to eg, “Chel-sea”, “Pal-ace”, etc.

Another very popular general encouragement chant in which the fans executed a very rapid and well-synchronised clapping rhythm with the hands held above the head, followed by the club name being shouted out loud with both arms flung outwards.

“X X XXX XXXX Portsmouth”

This chant also made an impressive display and the degree of synchrony that can be achieved by several hundred fans was really quite impressive. The chant was usually repeated several times when celebrating a good attack or a goal, or when welcoming the team onto the field. It was often initiated by a fan with a horn, who honks out the basic clap rhythm which the rest of the fans quickly took up.

The “na, na ,na” chant, if done properly, was great for creating atmosphere: it began fairly quietly, and gradually emerged from the background crowd noise as more and more fans joined in. It was sung slowly and with feeling and repeated more than once.

“Na,na,na. Na, na, na, na. Na,na na,na. Portsmouth”

It takes its tune from the long refrain at the end of the Lennon and McCartney song “Hey Jude” (1968) and probably has its origins at Anfield. At Fratton Park the the fans used to throw their arms out as they sang the final “Portsmouth”. The chant is repeated several times and was sung at any point in the match when the fans scented victory for their team.

The increasing influence of Italian songs was evident in this popular team chant of the 1980s: It became familiar following TV coverage of the European Athletics Championships in Rome in the summer of 1987, when the Italian crowd were heard singing it to encourage their athletes. In the following season it made its appearance on most British football terraces.

“O-le, o-le, o-le, o-le, Ports-mouth, Ports-mouth”

There were many variations: e.g., following their Div 1 championship season in 1986/87 Everton sang Ole, ole, ole, ole, We are champs, we are champs. A Bristol City version went, Ole, ole, ole, ole, Bris-tol Ci-ty. And, in the 1988-89 season, when Cardiff’s away games were all-ticket, City fans adapted the chant as follows: Ole, ole, ole, ole, You’ll never ban, a City fan.
“Pompey, Pompey, Ra, Ra, Ra”

This had a small but devoted following over the years at Fratton Park. It sounded rather like a parody of public school-type chanting, though it can be heard on the the BBC record ‘The Day War Broke Out’ from the Tommy Handley show as “ITMA, ITMA, Ra, Ra, Ra”.
“Bring on the champions XX XX X ”

This chant was sung just before the home team came onto the field of play at the beginning of the game. It was only heard during big games with a large and excited crowd and followed by synchronised clapping to the same rhythm.

Football fans are notoriously loyal to their local region and express this loyalty in a number of ways. A recent addition to this list would be “I’m Portsmouth ’til I die”.

“One team in Hampshire”

This was usually directed towards Southampton fans that might be watching on TV. Tune of Guantanamera.
“Southerners, la, la, la”

This was usually reserved for visiting fans from the north. The singing was often accompanied by a considerable amount of good natured pushing and bundling, rather similar to that in “Knees up Mother Brown”. The tune is an abbreviated version of the theme from the children’s TV programme of the 1970′s called “Banana Splits”.
“Sea, sea, sea-siders”

This chant was sung very quickly, punching the syllables out in an aggressive fashion. The manner of delivery of this chant gives it a distinctly threatening connotation. In this sense it is quite unlike the “Southerners” chant which is sung in a carefree lilting style. The rhythm is identical to the clapping rhythm in “X X XXX XXXX Portsmouth!”

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