From The Cockney Rejects to Oasis via Half Man Half Biscuit – Richard Newson explored how football and music went from opposites to best friends
As a Sounds writer in the ’80s I met lots of rock artists. Many of them, like me, had been born in the early or mid 1960s. Very often, after a long hard interview, we’d end up talking football. Again and again these musicians told me how, for them, the game became less important when punk arrived in 1976-77 and made pop exciting again.
This was also a time when a generation of old heroes was hanging up its boots; skinheads were reappearing at grounds; and once-sublime soccer kits had become itchy acrylic nightmares. In the minds of pop fans and musicians alike, football equalled thuggery; an artless pursuit diametrically opposed to the glamour of rock’n’roll.
We’d all seen trouble at grounds in the early ’70s, but somehow that era’s ‘crews’ and their songs – at least when witnessed from a safe distance – were all part of the fun. The bootboys’ billowing clothes and shaggy hairstyles reflected the flamboyance of lad-rockers like Mud and Slade, and their songs were often lovingly bowered-up re-writes of the latest pop hits (Gary Glitter, come on down!). It was all part of the same glamtastic teen package.
There’s little doubt that in the late ’70s a large chunk of the football community went AWOL. Some deserters kept an eye on their team’s results, but for most fans football became an irrelevance as the exploits of Joy Division and The Jam became an all-consuming passion.
From a music buff's point of view at the time, football had little to offer. If the newspapers were to be believed, games were taking place in an atmosphere of terror, with the grounds and surrounding streets ruled by gangs of ultra-violent, dart-throwing psychos. It sounded petrifying. What’s more, an unlikely new link between soccer and rock’n’roll was about to make things worse…
In 1980, tattooed yob-pop geezers The Cockney Rejects marked West Ham’s FA Cup Final appearance of that year with a noisy, shouty version of I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles. It reached number 35 and got the band on Top of The Pops." data-uid="v8qa4" data-loading-text="Loading...">