Here we go, sports fans. A month of football heaven, replete with "the joy of victory and the agony of defeat", to quote a famous American sportscaster. We're going nuts for the next four weeks. There'll be statistics, debate, complaints about referees and in-depth medical discussions about metatarsals, hamstrings and adductors.
The shame of it is, I've already blogged what I believe is the best football song yet written. I realize that worthy musicians from New Order to Rod Stewart have made their own contributions to this genre, but when it comes to a song that will lift the hairs on the back of your neck when it's sung by 50,000 fans I'm sorry, but Ian Broudie has already been there with "Three Lions."
So instead, I'm casting the net a bit wider today. Boxing, for example. Here we have two contenders: Bob Dylan's epic "The Hurricane" (which admittedly isn't totally about boxing) and Warren Zevon's "Boom Boom Mancini", where the chorus urges us to "Hurry home early/Hurry on home/Boom Boom Mancini's fighting Bobby Chacon." It's also the only song I know of to deal with the risks that some sports entail: "When they asked him who was responsible/For the death of Du Koo Kim/He said, "Someone should have stopped the fight/And told me it was him."/They made hypocrite judgments after the fact/But the name of the game is be hit and hit back." No apologies, then.
There are no end of what our American cousins call "fight" songs: team- or college-oriented songs of encouragement, but these aren't necessarily about sports. Equally, there are no end of songs that have been appropriated by sports fans: Queen's "We Are the Champions" or "We Will Rock You" are just two.
But when it comes to songs about the love of sport, the fan's true dedication, there are only two that stand out: the aforementioned "Three Lions" and John Fogerty's "Centerfield".
"Well, beat the drum and hold the phone - the sun came out today!/We’re born again, there’s new grass on the field/A-roundin’ third, and headed for home, it’s a brown-eyed handsome man/Anyone can understand the way I feel."
See? I bet you're already feeling that itch of anticipation, that first quickening of the heart as you settle down to live and breathe your team's agony and ecstasy. I'll just bet Wayne Rooney is humming the chorus: "Oh, put me in, coach - I’m ready to play today/Put me in, coach - I’m ready to play today/Look at me, I can be centerfield." Sshhhhh! Don't tell him it's a baseball song!
It needs a special song to be adopted by all fans of a sport, one that transcends the tribal associations or even national ones. You can bet you're bottom dollar that we'll hear more than one chorus from "Three Lions" in Germany this summer, just as right now, across the US, fans are raising their voices to sing Fogerty's song: "Got a beat-up glove, a homemade bat, and brand-new pair of shoes/You know I think it’s time to give this game a ride/Just to hit the ball and touch ’em all - a moment in the sun/It’s gone and you can tell that one goodbye!"