Marcelle van Hoof's international top ten of awful football songs include examples of the crooning footballer, the hideous cover version by a team, the good cause song and the (unintentionally) funny interview
1. JOHAN CRUYFF: Oei Oei Oei (Dat Was Me Weer Een Loei) (1969, Polydor) When recording this single, Cruyff’s singing voice turned out to be even more out of tune than the studio personnel had expected. They didn’t know what to do. A friend who accompanied Cruyff to the studio suggested they give him a drink. Cruyff, who never drinks, accepted. After a while, when the atmosphere was more ‘relaxed’, they put Cruyff in front of the microphone again and his tipsy singing proved good enough to use. However, a couple of days later he was invited to sing his song (which roughly translates as ‘oh, oh, oh, yet another blow’ and is not about football, but about a friend of Cruyff being beaten up at a boxing match, then during a visit to a pub and then by his wife...) live on national television. Unfortunately he was sober again and only shyly mumbled the words he could remember, while staring at the ground. Cruyff has a reputation for being a know-all. No matter what subject (the weather, politics, cooking), he has a strong opinion about it. This must have been the only time in his life that he was lost for words.
2. FRANZ BECKENBAUER: 1-0 Fur Deine Liebe (Polydor) The German defender cut some ‘romantic’ songs early in his career. This was his biggest hit. Accompanied by lots of violins and acoustic guitar, der Kaiser’s singing isn’t too bad – for a footballer. The biggest surprise, however, is the chorus. In this, the normally very competitive Beckenbauer admits, voluntarily and probably for the only time in his life, a defeat: “1-0 fur deine Liebe, 1-0 hast du gesiegt” (“1-0 for your love, you have won 1-0”).
3. GERRIE EN ARNOLD MUHREN: Ajax Is De Koning Van De Mat (1973, CNR) Contrary to what people in Ipswich and Manchester may think, it wasn’t all skill in Arnold Muhren’s career. With his older brother Gerrie (renowned for a ball-juggling act during Ajax’s European Cup Semi-Final with Real Madrid in 1973) he made this, Ajax is the king of the pitch. It’s a typical football-song: bad rhyme, awful singing, terrible music. This didn’t stop them making a follow-up: De Hele Wereld Zal Het Weten (The Whole World Will Know), made with the forthcoming World Cup in West Germany in mind. Unfortunately, neither brother was selected for the squad, so the single wasn’t only crap, but untrue and superfluous as well. It flopped.
4. JUUL KABAS EN DE BEERSCHOT SUPPORTERS (ALLE 3): Vooruit Naa Beerschot/Wij Zijn De Mannekes Van Het Kiel (Arcade) 99% of all football songs are about being champions or celebrate glorious wins. This Belgian single (Off To Beerschot) is one of the few football songs in which the supporters (“all 3 of them”) slag off their own team, in this case, second division club, Beerschot. Lines include "Daddy, when did Beerschot last score a goal?" "I don’t know, son. You have to ask Grandad" and "All Beerschot players have been given a pair of skis. These will help them go down more easily." A record which fits in to the fine Belgian tradition of self-mockery.
5. JOHN EN JOHN: Voetballen kan in Nederland (1987, Redline) Until recently, this was a totally obscure ‘message’ song: “Football is possible in Holland, if we do it all together” (a strange line by which they meant that everyone should behave properly on and off the pitch). Subsequently, however, the song took on new significance. When Ruud Gullit abandoned the Dutch side prior to the last World Cup, one of the Johns (Van Zweden), who had become an amateur football referee in the meantime, printed T-shirts with a racist text, something along the lines of “Piss off Gullit with your banana to Milan”. John considered this to be a joke. A couple of months later, after a game he had refereed, John found his car had been (slightly) damaged. Incensed, he went into the nearby supporters’ club and smashed up the canteen. Damage: 15,000 guilders (£6,000). He should have a closer listen to his own single.
6. JEAN-MARIE PFAFF: Jetzt Bin Ich Ein Bayer (1984, Allstar) The talented Belgian goalkeeper was renowned for his thirst for publicity. In one of his first games for Bayern he saved a penalty. Afterwards, he gave a live interview on television which was a curious mix of German and Flemish. Pfaff thought he was speaking German, in fact he spoke mainly Flemish words with a fake German accent. This interview was a big hit on German, Belgian and Dutch television. Pfaff reminisced about it on this single (Nowadays I Am A Bavarian) and repeated the same linguistic mistakes. This man simply knows no embarrassment.
7. MARCO VAN BASTEN EN FRANK RIJKAARD: Het is fijn in Italie Te Zijn (1990, Dino) The AC Milan stars declare that “it feels nice to be in Italy,” but do so in some of the worst, out-of tune singing ever heard. Luckily, the producers realized the problem and so Marco and Frank ended up ‘singing’ only four lines An idea for future football records?
8. BELGIAN NATIONAL TEAM: Red Devils Rock (1980, WEA) Crap cover versions: where would football teams be without them?. On this single, Johnny And The Hurricanes’ Red River Rock gets tackled by the Belgian squad, who lie as well: “We’re the team that goes straight to the goal.” So far no one in the world has ever seen an attacking Belgian side, so this single has novelty value at least.
9. PELÉ: Moleque Danado (1979, Sigia) Pelé, nowadays a politician in Brazil, once wrote and sang his own songs! He made a couple of records, and both composed and sang the main theme to the film of his life. His songs were not as spectacular as his footwork, though. ‘Easy listening’ might be one way to describe his music. ‘Mediocre, boring muck’ would be another. This ballad (translation: Innocent Child) was released in aid of the Unicef ‘Year of the Child’. Proceeds went to a good cause.
10. DIE KICKER-FANS: Schon Ist Das FuBball Spiel (1939-45?, CBS) Typical football songs in each country reflect national musical styles: samba in Brazil, chansons in France and, er, marches in Germany. This song, a tribute to football, has an extremely militaristic sound and the accent of the lead-singer resembles a certain notorious character in German history. A very strange record – not least because I bought it for 10p in a second hand shop in London.
From WSC 110 April 1996. What was happening this month