/Tuesday Ten /533 /Sports!

This week, I’m returning to a subject I’ve covered before.

/Tuesday Ten /533 /Sports!

/Subject /Sport
/Playlists /Spotify / /YouTube
/Related /100 /Now Sports /335 /Eat My Goal /Tuesday Ten/Index
/Assistance /Suggestions/170 /Used Prior/36 /Unique Songs/140 /People Suggesting/63
/Details /Tracks this week/10 /Tracks on Spotify Playlist/9 /Duration/32:24

The thing is, last time I covered it, it wasn’t the most expansive – and this was pointed out to me recently, with better suggestions to start me off. So, back to it we went.

So this week is about sport in music. About love (and dislike) of sport, of various sports, and finding love through sport – and inclusivity within sport. Oh, and the one and only time I’ve appeared on a song – naturally about a certain football match.

An enormous number of suggestions later, and I ended up with unexpected choices, and some great new discoveries too. Thanks, as ever, to everyone that got involved.

A quick explanation for new readers (hi there!): my Tuesday Ten series has been running since March 2007, and each month features at least ten new songs you should hear – and in between those monthly posts, I feature songs on a variety of subjects, with some of the songs featured coming from suggestion threads on Facebook.

Feel free to get involved with these – the more the merrier, and the breadth of suggestions that I get continues to astound me. Otherwise, as usual, if you’ve got something you want me to hear, something I should be writing about, or even a gig I should be attending, e-mail me or drop me a line on Facebook (details below).

/Viagra Boys
/Street Worms

I am painfully aware sometimes that within my wider social group, I am in the minority that actually cares about (various) sport, and follows them. I follow football (these days, my local team Hythe Town FC, having broadly given up on the obscene cash-grab that is the Premier League), cricket (Kent), American Football (New York Giants – thirty-eight years of that particular fandom) and baseball (the Cubs) to varying degrees, and aside from the regular visits to Hythe Town matches, I rarely get much of a chance to see the other sports in the flesh.

So this brawler of a track from Swedish punks Viagra Boys probably sums up the image of sport to the many of my friends that don’t care. A run of sports bellowed out as a display of masculinity, alongside things like hot dogs and dope and cigarettes that might be consumed while shouting at the TV while the sport is on. It doesn’t make any sense, but then, to the casual eye, neither do some of the sports that I watch…

/Luke Haines
/Saturday Afternoon
/9 1/2 Psychedelic Meditations on British Wrestling of the 1970s & Early ’80s

Not the first, on-paper deeply bizarre and niche, concept album from Haines or others over the past couple of decades (indeed I’ve featured the cricket-based project The Duckworth Lewis Method, involving Neil Hannon, more than once in these pages), this one though harks back to a time long gone. It’s difficult to think it possible now, but for a few decades – and particularly the seventies and eighties – wrestling on Saturday afternoons on ITV was really big business. Millions watched the likes of Big Daddy, Giant Haystacks, Kendo Nagasaki, Catweazle in the ring, and while it gradually ebbed away from prime-time TV – in part swept away by the much more brash, big-budget WWE from the US – smaller-scale wrestling continues to tour (indeed I recall seeing a poster for a bout locally down here on the Kent Coast earlier in the summer).

This song, though, is set in the life of a younger viewer watching wrestling to escape the monotony of their mundane life – pretty much exactly why it was so popular at the time…

/Bruce Springsteen
/Glory Days
/Born in the U.S.A.

It turns out I could have used quite a number of songs about baseball. Suggested by a few people were songs from The Lonely Island Presents: The Unauthorized Bash Brothers Experience (about Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire, the Bash Brothers of the title that were stars for the Oakland A’s in the late 80s and 90s, and who later admitted to rampant steroid use), or I could have used A Dying Cub Fan’s Last Request by Steve Goodman, written in 1981 about the-then hapless Cubs from the northside of Chicago. Goodman died in 1984, and it would be another thirty-two years after that before the Cubs finally won another World Series, 108 years after their last.

But I’m turning to that great chronicler of the working class American life, Bruce Springsteen (and Yankees fan, apparently). Glory Days was inspired by a chance meeting with an old Little League teammate in a bar, as they reminisced and wondered about what might have been, and whether they could have become baseball stars instead. The video sees Springsteen practising his pitching on a baseball diamond, among other scenes.

/Tour de France
/Tour de France Soundtracks

Kraftwerk famously got heavily into cycling – to the point that it was rumoured to be impacting on the musical output of the reclusive group – and so perhaps it was no surprise that one of their most magnificent songs is on the subject. A delicate, twinkling hook freewheels through a muscular, mechanical rhythm augmented by the samples of breathless cyclists as they take on the three weeks of hell that is the Tour de France. The biggest of all prizes in cycling, 21 stages, 3,500km or thereabouts, up and down giant mountains, across open fields, through forests, towns and cities, it is a remarkable spectacle and often enormously entertaining. Appropriately, too, when Düsseldorf hosted the grand depart in 2017, Kraftwerk were there to put on a show in their hometown to help celebrate.

/Greg Champion
/I Made 100 In The Backyard at Mum’s

It might be an Australian song, but my god, the sentiment and feeling of this song takes me back. Perhaps I was fortunate in where I lived when I was younger, but the large “rec” (recreation ground) in that West Yorkshire village almost always had some kind of game going on summer days. Invariably it was either football (jumpers for goalposts, of course), or cricket (with stumps, bats and cricket balls). There would be no referees/umpires – so arguments over infringements in football, and wickets in cricket, were rife – and an often varying number of people on each team meant that opportunity would ebb and flow.

I was a relatively slight youngster, who was “ok” at best at sport, so while I played, I was never a star, and indeed would rarely get too involved. Probably my best was scoring nineteen as a nightwatchman, while my batting partner scored about sixty-five. Bizarrely I did end up playing for my Uni second-team a few times (I was always a far better bowler than a batter).

I also played more football in later life, and more about that in a bit…

/Diabolus in Musica

The transitional album Diabolus in Musica was very much Slayer desperately trying to stay relevant as musical trends went in other ways, but even then, it’s really fucking weird hearing Tom Araya singing about…rugby. Two minutes of Slayer thrashing like mad, while Tom Araya compares the physicality of rugby to gladiators in the arena, biting ears, spitting out broken teeth, and pounding their opponents into the mud. Twenty-five years on and more, Rugby has fully embraced the professional era, and the Rugby (Union) World Cup next month promises much – although I can’t imagine this track will be soundtracking the highlight reels…

But I still can’t get my head around this song.

/Iron Maiden
/The Flash of the Blade

While there is a distinctly medieval edge to this song (a galloping tale of swordsmanship and vengeance), it is also a reminder that Bruce Dickinson – in a seemingly never-ending list of talents – is an internationally recognised fencer, having competed for Great Britain at international level.

Surprisingly, perhaps, he’s not the only sporting rockstar – both Rod Stewart and Johnny Marr had trials at professional level in football (imagine how different things could have been!), while Julio Iglesias did play professional football in Spain, before a car accident ended that career and turned him onto music…

/Play The Field
/In Search of Lost Time

An unexpected suggestion, but a timely one, as women’s football in particular has taken centre-stage over the past few weeks as the Women’s World Cup has enthralled. Indeed, by the time I publish this, we’ll know the first of the finalists (from Spain and Sweden) before England play Australia on Wednesday morning. But this song isn’t quite about sport as much as it is about queer love. It’s a fun, jangly jaunt with a darker edge, as the duo obsess over a sport-loving woman that inspires them to consider taking up sport – any sport – as long as it gets them closer to the object of their affections, but also confesses the difficulty when younger of admitting their true desires, lest they were bullied for it.

In a time where being gay in male sports is still something for the headlines, there appears to be little such attention in women’s sport, where sportspeople’s sexual orientation(s) aren’t seen as so important. And so it should be – why is orientation important, and why is it anyone’s business, more to the point? Another step forward would be to stop the demonisation of trans athletes, but I suspect that’s going to take yet more work and fight.

/The National
/Mr. November

I’ve seen a few theories about this song: partly it’s about John Kerry and his failed Presidential bid, partly it’s about the pressures the band were under as the hype began to build, but it also makes more than a few references to the pressures of sports players to win. The National come from a football (American Football, that is) town, and some of the band attended the University of Cincinnati. College Football in the US is huge – with crowds bigger than most soccer teams get – and so the pressure to succeed is immense, particularly as a payday for players if they are drafted into the NFL can be life-changing. So come November, as the playoffs loom and future prospects come into view, it’s all on those players to make that difference. As Matt Berninger notes in the song, “[he’s] the great white hope” to win.


/Weird Emotion (feat. Real Gothic)

I had kinda talked myself into the idea that football in particular was going to be avoided this week (especially as /Tuesday Ten /335 covers the subject in much more detail), but then, I realised there was a different way to look at this, for two reasons.

One, this song was created as an affectionate tribute to a match I’ve been involved in for nearly two decades, and two, I feature on this song.

Let me explain. Way back in the mists of time, a football match was created at the Whitby Goth Weekend, arranged between Mike Uwins (Manuskript) and Jon Stokoe (then of the Whitby Gazette). Despite Goths not exactly being known as football fans, it took off in a big way, and became a Sunday-afternoon fixture of the biannual weekend. I joined the team (then known as Real Gothic FC) in 2005 or so, and ended up a regular player and involved in the organisation of the match (and in recent years, as captain of the team), while as a team raising money for charity, we became surprisingly well-known, with a variety of national and international coverage (most recently in the Guardian in the early days of COVID).

There was something of a schism, and FC 2019 Gothenheim was formed to continue things, and things petered out a bit thanks to COVID and various other things. But, this October, there will be one last match for many of us, as a number finally take our leave, and as a tribute to the late Jez, who did so much to ensure these matches happen.

What about the song? This reworking of World In Motion came about thanks to another drunken night at Whitby, with Mike Uwins reworking the lyrics, Kynon doing an appropriate version of Kenneth Wolstenholme’s famous 1966 commentary, Pablo doing his best John Barnes rap, and me and Carl on backing vocals. It was a whole lot of fun, and it lives on as the soundtrack to the video of Real Gothic’s greatest, most dramatic victory in October 2007, when we won 4-3 in the last minutes thanks to an extraordinary goal by Richard Dove.

I’m going to miss the football at Whitby, but all good things must come to an end.

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