“A football compendium” edited by Peter J. Seddon and published by the British Library in 1999 is one of the great football reference works and is available for consultation in our Reading Room. Over nearly 900 pages it lists all books or magazines published about football in the UK and Ireland up to the end of 1998. In total this is over 7000 items and is an awesome bibliographical achievement.
The compendium has been an invaluable aid to us in building and scoping our football collections. The section that keeps drawing me back though is the one on music and sound recordings. Here you will find listed the many Scottish football pop records issued in the 1960s, 70s, 80s & 90s.
In alphabetical order it gives the lowdown on records released by Scottish clubs. Not surprisingly Aberdeen FC released a version of “The northern lights of old Aberdeen”. More surprisingly an entire album was released in 1997 “Come on you Reds” which included a version of “Here we go” by celebrity supporter Robbie Shepherd. “Anfield rap” by Liverpool F.C. reached no.3 in the charts in 1988 and features many Scots including Kevin MacDonald, Gary Gillespie, Steve Nicol, Alan Hansen and then manager Kenny Dalglish as well as the voice of Bill Shankly. Less well known and probably equally ill-advised is Celtic’s “Celtic rap” released on 12” single that year by Skratch Music. Celtic FC also released an EP in 1997 that featured Jimmy Johnstone singing “Passing time”.
If Clyde FC released a single odds were high it would be a version of “Song of the Clyde”, more intriguing perhaps is a 1997 single by Paul Roberts and Forfar Athletic FC called “Nessun Dorma Forfar”. In the early seventies for reasons that are slightly unclear Kilmarnock F.C. fans adopted the 1973 Marie Osmond hit “Paper roses” as a terrace anthem. The Club recorded a version to celebrate their 1997 1-0 victory over Falkirk in the Scottish Cup. Marie Osmond made a special trip to Kilmarnock to sing the song to 500 Kilmarnock season ticket holders in 2013 before playing a concert at Glasgow’s SECC with brother Donny and Susan Boyle. Partick Thistle’s “Firhill for thrills” is worth hearing for Thistle fans and followers of eccentric pop and Rangers fans will likely enjoy the 1968 album “Follow! Follow! Rangers” by the Blue Boys of Ibrox.
A few individual Scottish players have also appeared on vinyl. Mad Jocks and Englishmen released a 1984 single “Just like Kenny / Dalglish we are right behind you”. Featuring Kenny himself it is a rewrite of Heinz’s 1963 tribute to Eddie Cochran “Just like Eddie”. Alan Gilzean and Dave Mackay sang a duet of “I belong to Glasgow” on 1967s “Singalong Spurs” EP despite the fact that Mackay hails from Edinburgh. The EP also features Jimmy Greaves singing “Strolling”. Greaves’ TV partner Ian St. John recorded an unlikely duet with pop star Stephanie De Sykes in the seventies “Gotta keep on dancing”. Unlike Stephanie’s “Born with a smile on my face” it was not a hit.
The football records that most people remember are the ones for the national teams. Kick started by the success of “Back home” a number one record for the 1970 England World Cup Squad the seventies and eighties were the golden age of the football single. The lyrics to “Back home” were written by Govan born Bill Martin who with his song writing partner Phil Coulter also wrote “Puppet on a string”, “Congratulations” and “Shang –a-Lang” the latter sometimes suggested as a potential Scottish national anthem. Scotland’s World Cup single campaign kicked off in 1974 with “Easy, easy” the official 1974 anthem for the German World Cup. This was accompanied by an album “Scotland, Scotland” featuring guests Lulu and the Bay City Rollers. The Argentina World Cup in 1978 was when Scotland went football record crazy. The success of Andy Cameron’s “Ally’s Tartan Army” released by Klub records in 1977 was the first of a flood of singles. A group called Scottish Football Supporters released a new version of “Easy, easy” on Polydor. Rod Stewart recorded the official World Cup Record with the Scottish Squad “Ole ola” the b side of which included extracts from Archie MacPherson’s commentary for Scotland’s qualifying game with Wales and made the top five. World Cup singles were also released by Fran and Anna, The Tartan Lads, Band of the Scots Guards and Bill Barclay. Andy Cameron released a less successful follow up “Don’t cry for me Argentina” but it was Scotland’s fans that ended up in tears. Understandably the flood was reduced to a trickle for Spain 82. Fran and Anna released “Its Scotland forever” and the official song was “We have a dream” by B.A. Robertson and the 1982 Scotland World Cup Squad. Robertson and the Squad were joined by a galaxy of showbiz and sports stars including John Gordon Sinclair, Willie Carson, Jim Watt, Alan Wells and Miss Scotland, Georgina Kearny. This was a sizable hit but the records for Mexico in 1986 and Italy in 1990 struggled to make much of an impact. This was despite the fine lyric of 1986’s “Big trip to Mexico” which went “We’re the squad, you know us all by name, We got here the hard way, no easy game, We’re not afraid of anyone’s fame, We’ll give all we’ve got to bring the trophy hame!”
Not surprisingly it was decided to bring in the professionals for France 98 and the song “Don’t come home too soon” was written and performed by top rock group Del Amitri. Play “Easy, easy” back to back with “Don’t come home too soon” and you get the story of 24 years of Scotland World Cup campaigns from world conquering expectations to weary resignation in six minutes.
Changes in the record industry and Scotland’s declining fortunes as a national team means the Scottish football single is now largely a thing of the past. Sadly although we have lots of material on Scottish football we don’t generally collect vinyl records at the Library. Discussions are underway though about a Scottish Sound Archive so hopefully Scotland’s football records will find a home here. We do though have material on football songs that are sung on the terraces including the two titles illustrated above. Many of the recorded football songs were inspired by songs from the terraces or written in the hope they might be adopted on the terraces. If you are feeling brave or nostalgic or ideally both you should be able to find most of the songs mentioned above online.