If you’ve ever been enchanted or mystified by foreign chants, then Ian Plenderleith has found your dream site. Learn Polish raps and Russian ragtime numbers, but steer clear of PSG and Sampdoria 

While football and music may attract the same kind of slightly sad, trivia-driven fan, these two cultural staples have always seemed ill at ease when they’ve overlapped. Yet the website Soccerclips.net , which has gathered more than 1,000 football songs from around the world, proves that while many attempts to fuse the two cultural staples have hopelessly failed, there are a ton of surprising gems that would probably make up a fat and eclectically pleasurable double compilation CD to stick on the car stereo for away trips.

What’s more, if you’re travelling abroad to watch football you can now brush up in advance on the team’s songs – both official and unofficial – and join in with all the heart and gusto of a devoted local, even if you’ve no idea what the words to Chernomorets Odessa’s club song actually mean. There’s a good chance that, in any given song, there’ll be a fair amount of anthemic chorus in which some kind of male braying noise will do as long you’re following the tune.

A decent football song must boast one of two essential components. Either it must exude a lively, frenetic optimism celebrating the virtues of a particular team or player, preferably with a chorus so catchy that you can stupidly sing and bounce along half way through your first listen. Or it must spit out a vicious wit at the expense of some rival or hated opponent. Ideally it will incorporate a token element of indigenous folk music, some crowd noise, perhaps a whistle and, sparingly used, a brief snap of commentary. The formula doesn’t provide for much in the way of avant-garde improvisation, but that’s the modern game for you.

Go to this site and sample its treasure, without issues of copyright troubling your conscience. Here are some personal recommendations, and some that you might wish to avoid, though I stress categorically that I did not sample all 1,000-plus songs. Note: on many entries it’s unclear who the singers or songwriters are – most just have a club name and a song title.

Thierry Henry ~ Vas Y Titi is a fittingly flair-speckled, felicitous song for such undisputed genius. Formidable! Pair it with Mano Negra’s chaotic but vibrant Santa Maradona.
Pogon Szczecin ~ 100% EG is a belting rap song, even if you’ve no idea what they’re rapping about (football, I hope).
Baltika Kaliningrad ~ Impassioned, rousing and catchy, with a welcome ragtime piano solo.
Hertha Berlin ~ Ole Hertha BSC. The site has hundreds of songs devoted to German teams, where fans seem keen to express love for their team with buzzsaw punk (as do Dutch, Swiss and Polish fans). This is sharply produced proto-punk with a Sham 69-style chorus (really, that’s a good thing).
Borussia Mönchengladbach ~ Elfer für Borussia is even more rabid and yelling the word “Tor!” is almost statutory in the German football song, but Die Sucht Vfl is a more reflective number about being addicted to your team.
PAOK Thessaloniki’s ~ club song has a jaunty Greek folk flavour, though I’d be fascinated to hear its pacy delivery sung simultaneously by thousands.
Likewise, Olympiakos Piraeus’s Goin’ Through-Gine is a belting Greek rap number.
Celtic ~ Johnny Doyle. A respectable cut of Scottish folk dedicated to a player who died too young.
Lokalmatadore ~ Fussball! Ficken! Alkohol! An unambiguous, rollicking eulogy to the finer things in life.
England ~ Piss Take. Irish-accented gloat about Zidane’s two late goals at Euro 2004. Reflects the sheer joy of seeing a team you hate lose.
Levski Sofia ~ Levskarche. Bulgar acoustics with barked-out chorus will make a nice change of pace for your compilation CD.
Brian Walsh ~ Georgie Boy. A honky-stonking Manc C&W tribute to the late Mr Best (“I’m not fit to lace your drinks”).
Wealdstone ~ We are the Stones. Rhymes with “We are out on our own”, and so is this song compared with most of the other English efforts. An infectious slice of lo-fi indie soul.

Rangers FC ~ Steer clear of anything connected with this team. These lads can’t seem to open their gobs without banging on about loyalism, martyrs, the Queen and teams in green-and-white hoops. Can’t anyone write a Rangers song about football?
Sampdoria ~ Ho uno scudetto nel cuore sounds like the kind of song that would compound your misery if you were drowning your sorrows in a bar after a bad defeat. Possibly recorded on the same karaoke machine as Chievo Verona’s bombastic Eurovision pop. Italian and Croatian singers, especially, like this cheesy format.
Leeds United ~ A Football in a Yorkshire Rose. Overwrought and embarrassing. Come on, lads, it’s a only a football team.
Chelsea ~ We Thank You Sincerely. Need to vomit right this second? Check it out.
Real Madrid ~ A Por Ellos. What the hell are bagpipes doing on this? They’re as incongruous as the idea of a pale, ginger-haired Scottish galáctico.
Paris Saint-Germain ~ Hooligans PSG. Continental fans seem obsessed with the idea of “hooligans”, singing about them at great length. Thing is, if they were real hooligans, they’d be smashing their guitars up, not playing them. It’d probably sound better, too.
Gillingham ~ Home of the Shouting Men. This is not so bad, but why do English fans always consciously sing like a bunch of drunken herberts, while fans in every other country of the world sound like a crowd of people singing?

From WSC 231 May 2006. What was happening this month

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