I love Foo Fighters. I love Dave Grohl. He’s my kind of Rock Star. From the grungey of days Nirvana who helped to restore faith in music for those who like their music hard, heavy and infused with guitars to the stadium rock of the Foo’s, I’ve loved it all. Hell, he even played drums on one of my favourite albums by my favourite band Killing Joke. He can do no wrong as far as I am concerned.
But there’s a time and place for Foo Fighters and just before kick-off at Stamford Bridge definitely ain’t it.
One of the peculiar facets of this season has been the dare I say, cultural change in the pre-match build up. We now have what I can only term ‘modern’ music to ‘get the crowd going’ before kick-off together with the most sacrilegious omission of all – ‘Liquidator’ by Harry J All Stars.
Liquidator and Chelsea has history. Although West Bromwich Albion also claim ownership of this Trojan Records reggae classic, as do Wycombe Wanderers, Northampton Town, Wolves and St. Johnstone, its association with the late 1960’s skinhead era, Dr Marten’s boots, braces and Ben Sherman shirts, essential football wear in the Shed End at that time, it is safe to say that Chelsea can claim proprietorial rights.
The main point being is that songs such as Liquidator evoke memories of football from a bygone age and as such become firmly embedded into the culture and history of the club. As a side bar, skinhead culture of that era was not necessarily a euphemism for racism and violence as it became in the late ‘70’s and early ‘80’s. It was a genuine symbiosis of black and white culture with working class white youth immersing themselves in the Jamaican culture of reggae and rude boys, so what’s not to like about that cultural inclusiveness, but I digress…
Many English football clubs have a song associated with them, usually going back decades. Everton have the ‘Z Cars’ music – the theme to a BBC Police drama from the 1960’s and 1970’s. Their neighbours Liverpool, have “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, of course. West Ham have ‘Blowing Bubbles’, like Liverpool’s anthem, an old Music Hall tune.
Southampton have the fairly modern ‘Saints Are Coming’ by the Skids but are more commonly associated with ‘Oh When the Saints Go Marching In’. Wolves have ‘Hi Ho Silver Lining’ by Jeff Beck and Leeds United have ‘Marching on Together’, a song written for their 1972 FA Cup Final appearance.
Chelsea also had a song written for a Cup final appearance that year; ‘Blue is the Colour’, written for the 1972 League Cup Final. Chelsea didn’t quite start the ball rolling on Cup Final songs, but we’ve had plenty of others, most notably ‘Blue Day’ written by Mike Connaris and featuring Graham McPherson, better known as Suggs, from the band Madness and a massive Chelsea supporter, as is Woody the drummer. It also includes background vocals from my partner in crime on the Chelsea FanCast, Jonathan Kydd, and purveyor of Chelsea FanBites, among other things.
Not only did we have a song for the 1997 FA Cup Final, we also had one in 1994 with ‘No One Can Stop Us Now’ and ‘Blue Tomorrow’ in 2000. Cup final songs are something of a tradition at Chelsea, but Blue is the Colour and Blue Day have stood the test of time and are heard and occasionally sung by the crowd to this day.
With such a wealth of Chelsea songs in our playlist, where on earth does ‘The Pretender’ by Foo Fighters fit in? The only logical conclusion I can draw is that with Dave Grohl’s physio now employed by the club, it must be a personal request! Or maybe it was an ironic comment on Graham Potter’s management credentials.
The cynic in me suggests that this might be a cultural misunderstanding by the new American owners wanting to generate some atmosphere in the ground with a bit of loud ROCK MUSIC to get the heart rate rising. Of course, it might also be down to the marketing department, who have a track record (no pun intended!) of zero understanding of the history and culture of the club and misrepresenting it as a consequence.
Now, I confess, this may come across as the rantings of an out of touch grumpy old man whose musical tastes are stuck in the 1980’s, but even if that is the case, the tradition, history and culture of a football club matters. It is what helps to define who we are and right now in this horrible period of uncertainty regarding our future identity it would be nice to keep hold of some of the things that help to define us.
It is also a criminal waste. Arguably Chelsea has more links with the world of popular music than any other club. Historically, as far as music and Chelsea is concerned, they have gone arm in arm for decades.
Chelsea is blessed with massive music credentials. A cursory (and shortened) list of musicians who support Chelsea reveals the following:
Suggs, Woody and Graham ‘Bushers’ Bush from Madness; Damon Albarn from Blur; Bryan Adams; Paul Cook and Steve Jones from Sex Pistols; Joe Strummer from The Clash; Paul Weller from The Jam; Andy Fletcher and Dave Gahan from Depeche Mode; Segs and Ruffy from The Ruts; Lloyd Cole; Mr C, DJ & lead singer with The Shamen; Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn from Everything but the Girl; Charlie Harper UK Subs; Members of the Members; Alex Paterson ORB; John O’Neill The Undertones; DJ’s Paul Oakenfold; Trevor Nelson; Jeff Young; Seb Fontaine and many many others over and above the Club’s own list.
To that list I will add Andy Cairns from Therapy? and Kirk Brandon from Theatre of Hate and Spear of Destiny, both of whom I have the absolute pleasure to know and can 100% vouch for their Chelsea credentials. In fact, as far as I know, most of the above go to matches regularly or have season tickets, the latter two certainly do.
It’s an impressive list and proves the special relationship Chelsea Football Club has with musicians and popular music.
Over and above the cultural need to have some of the long-standing Chelsea songs aired at the stadium, then given our links with some of the greatest music artists of all time, surely, we can do better or at least more fitting than Foo Fighters?
How about including the following: London Calling, The Clash; Parklife, Blur (including star of Quadrophenia, actor Phil Daniels, another season ticket holder) as well as Song 2 which is often heard at the moment; Just Can’t Get Enough by Depeche Mode so we can reclaim it from the Scousers or even Personal Jesus should we be craving a Brazilian striker in the summer! In a Rut by the Ruts; Submission by Sex Pistols; Sound of the Suburbs, The Members; Never Take Me Alive and Liberator, Spear of Destiny; In the City, The Jam and I could go on and on…
Rather than fill this article with a long list of tracks from Chelsea supporting artistes, I’ll start a play list and open it up for additions. I’m sure we can do better than what we hear currently.
In addition, some of the old classics such as Blue is the Colour, Blue Day and Blue Tomorrow need more regular airings. Also, Bob Marley’s ‘Three Little Birds’ should be played when we need it most, like we did in the famous Napoli match in 2012 and ‘One Step Beyond’ by Madness should always be played post-match in moments of euphoric celebration.
And most important of all, Liquidator should always be played as the last song before Chelsea kick-off, preferably without the interminable “We hate T*tt*nh*m (unless we are playing them). After all, its tradition, it’s ours and it’s Chelsea.
Finally, as this is the last cfcuk of the season I just want to add a personal thanks to everyone who has found the time to read my pieces in here and the fanzine generally. Our world at Chelsea is going through massive, unsettling change so it’s good to know we can rely on the fanzine for some sense and stability in such times. Well done to the Sheditor for the massive amount of work he undertakes to keep this going. If I’m anything to go by, it must be like herding cats!
In football, everything changes, except cfcuk. Amen to that. “Urry Up it’s only a pound”. Long may we hear that in the Fulham Road.
First published in cfcuk fanzine April 2023