This week I’ve been thinking about “walk-out” music — the songs that play over the stadium tannoys when football clubs walk out onto the pitch to greet the roaring crowds before matches. Every club has one; some clubs have many. Sometimes they are chosen to hype up the crowd before kick-off, other times they have a long and somewhat murky history behind them (i.e. “Well, we’ve just always played that song”).
But they’re always interesting and they can sometimes tell us a little bit about the clubs that use them. Two days after a big win where Tottenham Hotspur beat the snot out of Crystal Palace 4-0 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, I thought it’d be fun to take a closer look at some of these songs, as the ratings theme for this week’s player ratings.
A caveat. The entire masthead, as well as some of you, are aware about how much I loathe Tottenham’s use of “Duel of the Fates” by John Williams as their walk-out music. I hate it. I think it’s a bad piece of music from a bad movie that always makes me cringe when it comes on. The “lightsaber choir” can go jump in the sea as far as I’m concerned. I also realize that this is not a popular opinion, so I’m omitting Spurs from these rankings and will be using songs from other clubs.
Here are the Tottenham Hotspur player ratings to the theme of Premier League walk-out songs.
Honorary 6 stars: “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” Gerry and the Pacemakers (Liverpool)
Yes, I know. Some of you have stopped reading and are right now writing a comment yelling at me for this. But here’s the thing: take away the arrogant obliviousness of Liverpool fans and this is objectively a great song. It’s poignant, singable, emotionally powerful stuff. It’s the kind of thing a proper football song should be. I love this song. I just hate that it’s Liverpool’s song. (Also, the six stars are honorary because I don’t like giving Liverpool credit for anything and this way they don’t actually count.)
5 stars: Post Horn Gallop (Leicester City)
What’s better than playing a song over the tannoy? A person playing the crap out of a 3-foot long valve-less bugle at center circle. That’s great! It sounds like the call to fox hunt, which is both English and Leicester-topical. And it’s really hard to play that too — you gotta have chops. Know what’s even better than the Post Horn Gallop? Having a soldier play the Post Horn Gallop on a freakin’ infantry rifle. Every club should do something like this.
Son Heung-Min: My man of the match. How could he not be? He was spritely and positive from the opening kick, despite flying back from Tajikistan or wherever it was that Korea played a World Cup qualifier last week. Two great goals and nearly a third if he’d managed to get that shot from an acute angle on target. He may not play like this every week but it’s so much fun when he does.
Toby Alderweireld: It’s rare when a center back has such an important and obvious influence in the way a team plays. Spurs’ first goal was pure air-raid, with Toby directly feeding Sonny over the top for the goal (earning an assist) and Toby was pinging balls from deep all over the place. He completed over 100 passes, and those he missed were almost all progressive and long. Just an exceptional all-around performance.
4.5 stars: (tie) “Glad All Over,” The Dave Clark Five (Crystal Palace) & “The Saints Are Coming,” The Skids (Southampton)
I couldn’t decide between these two because I love them both for different reasons. Palace’s “Glad All Over” is a hum-dinger of a 60s rock song that is gloriously upbeat and happy. I’m not a Palace fan, obviously, but what a song! In an alternate universe, the Beatles recorded this and it became a world-wide mega-hit.
As for Southampton, I’m extremely glad that at least one Premier League club plumbed the depths of 1970s English punk rock for their walk-out anthem. For Soton, it’s thematically perfect, has a singable chorus, is in a minor key, and quite frankly, slaps.
Erik Lamela: Erik was at his best on Saturday and nearly completed the Erik Lamela Hat Trick (a goal, an assist, a yellow card). Lamela’s the kind of player who is better complementing other players than when he has to be the main creative focus of the team. Love that guy and he’s earned his starts this season.
4 stars: “Liquidator” by Harry J All Stars (Chelsea)
As loathe as I am to say anything nice about Chelsea, the Blues have walked out to Liquidator, a 1968 reggae hit, for decades and it really is a pleaser. The crowd adds in a “[clap clap clap clap] CHEL-SEA” chant that’s effective and quite fun. The song itself is associated with the first wave of skinheads in England, back when it was a counter-revolutionary working class youth movement that counted Jamaican rude boys and ska as influences, and well before skinheads became problematic, racist, and white nationalist in the 1980s. The story goes that the club would originally play this song at halftime as a welcome to the club’s new West Indian fans. Chelsea has issues with their thuggish supporters, but this a good song. (Sidenote: Wolverhampton also claim this song but they use the rhythmic chant “FOCK OFF WEST BROM — WE’RE WOLVES” which, well, works I guess.)
Serge Aurier: The difference between Spurs having a cromulent right back and, well NOT having one is pretty dramatic. Aurier had a very nice match with two assists and a cross turned in for an own goal. However, he still got lost positionally on a couple of occasions and I will forever be terrified that he’ll put in a foul throw.
Danny Rose: Another nice match from Danny, but it came on the defensive end as he mostly stayed deep to help counter the threat of Wilfried Zaha. And it worked — Danny didn’t need to push forward because Son was so effective, which meant he could wear Zaha like a shirt until he was subbed off for Ben Davies.
Christian Eriksen: This was one of Eriksen’s “background” matches, which doesn’t at all mean that he wasn’t doing everything right. With Lamela and Son both rampaging in offense, it afforded Eriksen to be “merely” a super-effective, highly important cog in the Spurs offensive machine.
Moussa Sissoko: Palace were extremely bad and gave Sissoko a ton of space in midfield, and he took advantage of it, making a number of important passes that set up good plays for Spurs going forward. That’s good! He completed 94% of his passes on Saturday when the past four matches suggested that, paired with Winks in midfield, he would struggle. He still frustrates the hell out of me, but that was a solid performance.
Mauricio Pochettino: Set his team up to attack from the opening kick to score an early goal and prevent Palace from parking the bus, and it worked! Spurs were bright throughout and once the second goal went in were off to the races. This is the kind of match we know Spurs are capable of, but which they haven’t really shown yet this season.
3.5 stars: “Hi Ho Silver Lining,” Jeff Beck (Wolverhampton)
In my opinion, the best walk-out songs are upbeat but also quirky, singable, and from a bygone era that harkens back to the clubs’ traditions of old. This song ticks all those boxes for me. Also bonus points for wordplay as the crowd replaces the first line of the chorus with “HI HO WOLVERHAMPTON.” Fun fact: Jeff Beck apparently hated this song, and once wrote that its enduring fame “was like having a farking pink toilet seat hung around my neck for life.” You’re everywhere and nowhere, baby.
Harry Winks: HE MADE SEVERAL FORWARD PASSES IN THIS MATCH!!!!!!!!
Jan Vertonghen: Whereas Toby was moving forward and being progressive with the ball, Vertonghen sat deeper to help mop up things any time Palace did anything remotely threatening. A solid, workman-like shift from Jan.
Harry Kane: We’ll probably see some media-driven What’s Wrong with Harry Kane narratives emerging after Harry only had a couple of shots and didn’t score in a 4-0 drubbing, but in truth he was doing all kinds of harry Kane things really well. His pass to Sonny for his second goal was inch-perfect. Kane doesn’t have to score to be a critical part of this Tottenham team (though let’s face it we all wish he would anyway).
3 stars: “This Is the One,” The Stone Roses (Manchester United)
According to Google, Manchester United started using “This Is the One” back around the turn of the millennium because it was one of Gary Neville’s favorite songs, and it stuck. A pretty anodyne pop-rock song that was a favorite of a pretty boring player, with lyrics that are about a demon-possessed girl and that nobody’s bothered to change for 20 years because... reasons? Yeah, sounds like United.
Hugo Lloris: Was barely troubled the entire match but made a couple of decent stops in the process. Again had a little difficulty at times playing out of the back.
Tanguy Ndombele: It was good to see him back in action on Saturday, but there wasn’t a whole lot to take away from his late match cameo. He was fine. I hope he plays more vs. Olympiacos.
2 stars: Theme from Z Cars (Watford, Everton)
It’s not entirely clear why two Premier League clubs walk out to the theme song of a black and white British cop drama from the 1960s in the Year of Our Lord 2019. But they do. And it sucks. (However, I did learn that Dame Judy Dench had a role in this show, so.)
No Tottenham players were this bad.
1 star: Lux Aeterna from “Requiem for a Dream” (Arsenal)
Arsenal actually doesn’t have a consistent walk-out theme. Their musical history is as wayward as their clubs’ history after they invaded from Woowich. The past few years, however, they’ve used this song from “Requiem for a Dream,” a movie about, in part, heroin addiction, amputation, and prostitution. It all makes sense now.
No Tottenham Hotspur players were as bad as Arsenal’s walk-out music about heroin addiction.
Tom Carroll Memorial Non Rating
Technically, Sheffield United’s best song isn’t a walk-out song, as they sing it as the team kicks off, but it’s still great so I’m including it here. Take “Annie’s Song” by John Denver, change the lyrics so you’re singing about beer, cigarettes, and junk food, and have it sung by 30,000 slightly intoxicated Yorkshiremen and you have “Greasy Chip Butty.” It’s weird. It’s so, SO Sheffield. It’s kind of awesome.
Ben Davies, Lucas Moura