SEE if you recognise this childhood. As part of the necessary brainwashing it takes to turn a young lad into a fully-addicted Liverpool fan, I was bought 4,000 videos on the club, ranging from The History of Liverpool Football Club to Dad’s favourite Beating the Blues. Which, as the title suggests, was just loads of goals against Everton. I watched all of these until I could recount the commentary alongside them, and tell you who scored in every European Cup Final from 1977 to 1984.
My personal favourite though was The Story of The Kop, now brilliantly available in full on YouTube. The Kop video was a collection of gentleman, of varying scales of alcoholism, telling their own personal stories of memories of the stand mixed in with images of the crowds and commentary by John Motson. The crowd looks terrifying and terrific, the songs and the swaying mesmerising.
The most famous clip is the one from Panorama in April 1964. A broadcast when a gentleman so posh he’s now extinct compares The Kop to The Duke of Wellington’s army while they are singing along to Cilla Black in the background. Then Liverpool beat Arsenal 5-0 and win the league, and everyone goes to town. Liverpool in 1964 must have been great.
It’s mad though isn’t it? Twenty thousand fellas, of all ages, singing along to a pop song by a local girl. I don’t know what the modern equivalent is of that. The Kop all singing Whole Again by Atomic Kitten, perhaps. I could get into that. Many others wouldn’t, I’d imagine. Too cool for school.
The Kop was signing Cilla Black and The Beatles in 1964 because they were in the charts at the time. The Anfield DJ used to play the top five singles in the run up to kick-off every home game and the crowd, with very little else to do, used to sing along. That’s how The Kop came to sang You’ll Never Walk Alone. The first time Liverpool ran out to You’ll Never Walk Alone was down to the fact it was No.1 in the charts. It stuck around after that, like all the best songs do.
The tradition of playing the hit parade went away, but The Kop’s love of pop songs stayed. The beauty of pop songs is that they are simple and catchy and the crowd at Anfield adapted them to songs about the players and the team. Songs weren’t being written to the new wave sounds coming out of Eric’s. It was stuff you’re mum liked like Let’s Go by The Routers. Which still gets used today.
By the time I was going home and away pop songs were still the mainstay of where you got your terrace tunes from. Remember the treble-winning season of 2001? The soundtrack about Gerrard Houllier and his Reds was an adaption of Who Let The Dogs Out by The Baha Men. The song of the season after? An adaption of Hey Baby by DJ Otzi. These are easily two of the worst songs ever written, but we didn’t care. They sounded great and we whacked them out with gusto.
So what has happened? Have we gone too cool for pop on The Kop? Or is it due to the changing nature of the crowd that they probably think Mark Ronson plays left back for West Brom? Or that Years & Years just describes how long they’ve been in the same seat, moaning? That they are more likely to go on holiday to Thailand than Tenerife, and so won’t hear that summer’s cheesy anthem?
I did hear one story of a recent pop song to footy song adaptation. At a recent Boss Mag event in town the DJ played Wish You Were Mine by Philip George and the crowd spontaneously started singing “I wish that you were Ibe, Jordon Ibe, Jordon Ibe, Ibe, Ibe, Ibe”. But it happened in a club, rather than in the ground as it would have 50 years ago, so it drifted off into a story from a night out.
Let’s bring back the top five before kick off and see if any songs start. Let’s send everyone on a weekend to Benidorm the week before the season starts, and see what they can do with James Milner and Cheerleader. Let’s all embrace our inner love of popular music, and see what happens next. It might not save the football club. But we might have more of a laugh.
Oh and one more thing. That “Liverpool” (clap-clap-clap) chant. Bring that back as well. Absolute mustard. And everyone knows the words.
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Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda-Photo