Seven times huge records became unofficial football anthems

From Joy Division to the Village People and plenty more in between, we take a closer look at some of the finest pop songs to have graced football terraces around the world.

Henry Lewis

Last updated: 3rd Oct 2018.
Originally published: 18th May 2018

Over the years, there have been a multitude of musical numbers adapted by football fans across the globe to vocalise their love for their team or individual players.

Take for example The Beatles' 'Hey Jude', a song that has been borrowed by many a football club, simply replacing "Hey Jude" with their beloved team's name; there's also Bille Holiday's 'Blue Moon', a song first adorned by steadfast Crewe Alexandra away fans, and eventually Man City, plus the Dave Clarke Five's 'Glad All Over' a song adopted by Crystal Palace after the band performed the song at Selhurst Park in February 1968 - it was eventually re- recorded by Palace's 1990 F.A Cup Final reaching team.

On the subject of footballers recording songs, who could ever forget Gazza's rendition of 'Fog On The Tyne' or of course, Andy Coles' take on the Gap Bands' 'Outstanding' which is simply, well, outstanding.

These are all great pop songs taken from the charts and placed firmly into the terraces, but we think the list below tops them all. Venture below to learn more about the finest chart hits that became football anthems in their own right, and click through the playlists to hear the original tracks plus their fabled fan renditions.

1. 'Go West' - Village People (Arsenal)

Football chant potential can be found in all types of tune, and that includes this totally camp 1979 disco hit from Village People which was released between two other monster singles from the group, 'Y.M.C.A' and 'In The Navy' . Its title is apparently attributed to the nineteenth century quote "Go West, young man" commonly associated to political  journalist Horace Greeley, however in this instance its more likely linked to sexual liberation.

In the case of Arsenal football club however, the track was a way of putting into song the club's penchant for picking up narrow victories, namely by going one up and then defending doggedly until the 90 minutes was up and the team found themselves on the receiving of yet another three points. The chant of '1 - 0 to the Arsenal' began in the George Graham era of the early 90s, but has remained a constant ever since, with Gunners fans still giving it a good airing regularly at the Emirates. 

2. 'Delilah' - Tom Jones (Stoke City)

A slightly leftfield choice, but the rendition Stoke City fans give of Tom Jones' 1968 murder ballad (which is bizarre enough as it is) is as impassioned as they come, as you can see from the clip of Potters fans at the 2011 F.A Cup final where they were beaten 1-0 by Manchester City. 

While Stoke's version of the track is somewhat more blue than its original, there's little doubt that the song's "woah woah woah woah" refrain works perfectly shouted from the stands. Stoke fan and roofing contractor Anton Booth claims to be the man responsible for starting his club’s 'Delilah' tradition, which he says began before an away match at Derby on April 11, 1987. Fans gathered in a pre-match pub were asked by police to stop singing sweary songs, so Anton – now known as TJ due to his association with the Tom Jones song – climbed onto a table and sang Delilah. The rest, as they say, is history.

3. 'Seven Nation Army' - The White Stripes (Various)

While Jack White's monster garage rock riff has more recently become commonly associated with Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, since the mid '00s it has thundered around football stadiums across Europe, supposedly beginning when fans of Club Brugge KV heard it playing in a bar in Milan ahead of a Champions League game in the city. 

Since then 'Seven Nation Army' has become synonymous with seismic football clashes, with Italy's 2006 World Cup winning squad adopting the tune to soundtrack their celebrations after defeating France on penalties at the final in Berlin. It's also used by tonnes of other clubs across Europe, and when you think about, it's the perfect terrace tune - an easily adaptable melody that is instantly recognisable and goes OFF when delivered by thousands of raucous fans. 

4. 'No Limit' - 2 Unlimited (Manchester City)

The Toure brothers were instrumental in Manchester City's first ever Premier League title win back in the 2011/2012 season, and as well as their on field performances, the Ivory Coast internationals won Manchester City fans' hearts off the pitch as cult heroes in their own right.

The fans' love for Kolo and Yaya was so strong in fact that those at the Etihad decided to immortalise them in song for all eternity, taking the irresistible hook from 2 Unlimted's 1993 worldwide smash 'No Limits' and replacing it with the Toure brothers' forenames. The chant was so good in fact, that it wasn't just City fans that gave it a run out and had its fair share of renditions on nights out across the country.

5. 'Freed from Desire' - GALA (Wigan Athletic and Northern Ireland)

While Euro 2016 was without doubt a tournament to forget, partly because of England's woeful exit to Iceland and partly down to the terrible football on display, there was one song that had fans all of teams frenzied in the build up to and during the tournament in France. It all began when in May 2016 Wigan Athletic supporter Sean Kennedy uploaded a video to YouTube that featured not one, but two odes to the Latic's striker Will Grigg.

The first one is a take on Alicia Keys' 'This Girl Is On Fire' (you can guess how that one went), however it's the second song on the video that made such an impact across the football world and beyond. Soon enough the Wigan fans' take on Italian singer Gala's 'Freed From Desire' was a viral sensation and the chant was everywhere - including the European Championships. While Grigg didn't feature once for Northern Ireland squad during the tournament, Wigan Athletic awarded Kennedy a free season ticket courtesy of the Wigan chairman David Sharpe for the 2016–17 season as a result of success of the chant.

6. 'You'll Never Walk Alone' - Gerry and the Pacemakers (Liverpool)

Arguably the most iconic of them all, in the 1960s Merseybeat's very finest Gerry and the Pacemakers delivered a rendition of a show tune from the 1945 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel that changed the identity of the band's local club forever. According to former player Tommy Smith, the group's lead vocalist Gerry Marsden presented Liverpool manager Bill Shankly with a recording of his forthcoming cover single during a pre-season coach trip in the summer of 1963. 

This incredibly led to the Liverpool squad singing the track on the Ed Sullivan show the same year (The Beatles weren't the only scousers smashing it in the States) before two years later Shankly picked the song as his eighth and final selection for the BBC's Desert Island Discs on the eve of the 1965 FA Cup Final - which Liverpool won against Leeds. Since then the track has rang around Anfield religiously, even inspiring Celtic to adopt the tune following a 1966 Cup Winners Cup semi-final against Liverpool, and is now sung by Celtic fans prior to every home European tie they play.

7. 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' - Joy Division (Manchester United)

The most decorated footballer in Premier League history is most certainly deserved of having one of alternative music's finest ever moments attributed to his name, with Joy Division's 1979 post punk anthem 'Love Will Tear us Apart' often ringing out around Old Trafford in support of their fabled number 11, Ryan Giggs, during his 23 year spell.

In his time at Manchester United, the Welsh wizard won 13 Premier League winner's medals, four FA Cup winner's medals, three League Cup winner's medals, two UEFA Champions League winner's medals, a FIFA Club World Cup winners medal, an Intercontinental Cup winner's medal, a UEFA Super Cup winner's medal and nine FA Community Shield winner's medals, and with 963 appearances represented his club more than any one. No wonder united fans gave him such a good chant then.