Chorus Of Approval
An inspired music choice at Old Trafford and other doozies from the world of sport
I was fortunate enough to be at Old Trafford on Monday night to see Manchester United wrap up the Premier League title. There were many memorable moments.
Robin van Persie scored a sublime volley, watching Wayne Rooney’s pinpoint pass as it dropped over his shoulder before stroking it sweetly from the edge of the area into the bottom corner of Aston Villa’s net. It was the middle goal of his all-left-foot hat-trick. (So one-dimensional, isn’t he? What’s the other one for, Robin, standing on?)
Rooney was imperious in his midfield role. He came deep to collect the ball from the back four, sprayed balls left, right and forward with effortless ease, and formed countless little triangles in the middle third, starving Villa of possession and creating space for his team-mates. I think we sometimes take him for granted, you know. By a country mile the most talented English player of his generation. Captain of the national side and dictating matters from a central midfield berth as we stroll to World Cup glory in 2018? Why not?
Then there was the incredible Ryan Giggs, in his fortieth year, helping Rooney to run the show. At times, when running at pace with the ball or dropping his shoulder to wrong-foot defenders, he looked like the teenager who burst onto the scene over two decades ago. Astonishingly, his personal haul now stands at thirteen league titles, spanning twenty-one seasons. Who’s to say he won’t add a fourteenth?
After the match, with the players cavorting trophy-less (they don’t get their hands on the pot for another three weeks) in front of the Old Trafford faithful, the PA system blared out celebratory tunes. Before the inevitable We Are The Champions, there was a much cleverer number. United had just won the twentieth league title in their history. What more fitting way to mark the occasion, then, than with Not Nineteen Forever by Manchester songsters The Courteeners?
Inspired stuff. What other notable examples are there of music in sport?
Ted ‘The Count’ Hankey – Be On Your Way
Darts walk-on music is a strange beast. Sure, you get your fair share of crowd-clappers and eighties staples – the likes of Amarillo and Eye Of The Tiger. There are also what you might loosely call the tailored numbers, carrying some relevance to the competitor in question. Hence, Australian star Simon Whitlock comes on to Down Under by Men At Work (yawn), Phil Taylor enters the arena to the strains of Snap’s The Power (do you see?) and Wayne ‘Hawaii 501’ Mardle used to wear loud shirts and mime-canoe his way on to the theme tune of, well, you get it.
But then there are some real outliers. When double BDO world champion Ted Hankey strode to the stage in his pomp, he was accompanied by DJ Zany’s hardcore techno track Be On Your Way. It was already weird enough that Hankey took on the full persona of his nickname ‘The Count’, donning a full-length cape and distributing rubber bats among the crowd. That this pre-match theatre was underscored by 140 beats per minute and a Dalek-type voice screeching “This is my territory, be on your way!” made it truly one of the most bizarre sporting spectacles of all time. Pure entertainment.
Test Match Sofa’s jingles
If you’ve never listened to Test Match Sofa, you really should. As the name suggests, it’s cricket commentary à la Test Match Special; just with a tad more swearing and fewer breaks for the Shipping Forecast.
One of the great features on TM Sofa is the catalogue of jingles they’ve developed. When Steven Finn comes on to bowl, for example, they play a version of Manfred Mann’s Mighty Quinn with Finn’s name crudely inserted over the song title of the chorus. Graeme Smith has an altogether less complimentary musical introduction, Maroon 5’s Moves Like Jagger becoming Moobs Like Jabba. When a four is struck, there’s a choice of Edwin Starr’s War (reimagined for purpose, obviously) or Starsailor’s Four To The Floor.
My personal favourite, though, is the jingle reserved for wide deliveries. Commentary will run something like this: “And that one’s been shoved down the leg side for one of these…” You then hear the opening bars of The Carpenters’ Close To You and a millisecond of the famous first line: “Why d…”
Keep up the great work, Sofa.
Elvis Costello and Ipswich’s FA Cup misfortune
When my team Ipswich Town played Wolves in an FA Cup 5th round replay in 1994, a trip to Stamford Bridge awaited the winners. Town were in the Premiership, Wolves the First Division. With the replay back at Portman Road, surely we were on our way to the quarters. Wrong. The men in old gold triumphed 2-1 and sent this undergraduate back to his university digs with a heavy heart.
It’s at times like these that you need your friends. So as I arrived back home, weary and deflated, I was pleased to see the beaming face of my mate Phil, a Brighton stalwart and a man who was familiar with footballing heartbreak. “Come in here,” he said, “I’ve got something for you.” I followed him into his room, where he slipped a CD into the stereo and played an Elvis Costello track: I Don’t Want To Go To Chelsea.
Thanks, Phil.Tagged in: Cricket, darts, manchester united, Premier League, Robin Van Persie, ryan giggs, Wayne Rooney
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