The FA Cup might have lost some of its traditional magic of late, with nine of the last 10 winners coming from the Premier League’s big six, but there’s another reason for the decline.
During the heyday of the competition, when cup final day meant an entire morning and afternoon focused on the big game, we had one thing we’re lacking now: proper cup final songs.
The 90s represented the golden era of the genre, with several clubs recording songs – often with established artists – ahead of a trip to Wembley. We’ve taken a look at some of the best and worst of yesteryear.
Arsenal – Hot Stuff (1998)
This is how you really nail something like this. Find an existing tune, with melodies and a catchy chorus, where the name of the club just happens to scan with the original title. Hey presto – you have a winner.
The ‘sing along to the instrumental bit in the pub’ beat is already there, and the addition of crowd noise gives it an even greater level of goosebumps.
More importantly, though, they haven’t just rewritten the chorus – there’s a whole verse-chorus structure covering the Gunners’ title charge in Premier League Years levels of detail, even incorporating existing terrace chants.
There are layers to this – no wonder they won the final.
Everton – All Together Now (1995)
‘All Together Now’ by the Farm? Banger. ‘All Together Now’ by Everton Football Club? Somehow even more of a banger.
The refrain of ‘Kendall’s boys in ’84/Now big Joe Royle is coming back for more’ might let the side down in the wrong hands, but here it just gives the sort of momentum any good cup final song needs – a musical version of Joe Parkinson, it might not have worked away from the context of the ‘95 final but it didn’t need to.
They would later add a new verse to make reference to David Moyes’ squad, who came close to another cup win in 2009, but there was a bit of Three Lions 2010 to it all. We’ll forgive them, though.
Liverpool – Anfield Rap (Red Machine in Full Effect) (1988)
Look, let’s get things straight, this absolutely should not work on any level. And yet..
Turns out it is possible for the raw charisma of John Barnes can carry a song in the same way it can carry a team, and pronouncing your own name wrong to ensure a verse scans is surely the ultimate sacrifice.
Does Bruce Grobbelaar come across like a chemistry teacher trying to seem down with the kids? Yes. Does it matter? Absolutely not.
Chelsea – Blue Day (1997)
If you’ve got a high-profile musician as one of your most famous fans, it seems like a waste not to use him for your cup final song, and Chelsea latched onto Suggs’ resurgence as a solo artist post-Madness to produce this gem.
Yes, it seems like Suggs might have recorded this anyway even if the Blues hadn’t got involved, but the addition of the likes of Gianluca Vialli certainly helps.
As with Arsenal’s ‘Hot Stuff’, there’s a clear divide between the enthusiastic participants (Dennis Wise; Dan Petrescu) and those who are seemingly waiting for the recording to be over so they can go back to the rest of their day (we can see you hiding at the back, Frode Grodås.
Manchester United – Move Move Move (The Red Tribe) (1996)
Dance-pop and Manchester United: both massive and unavoidable in the mid-90s, both on our “what was everyone thinking” list now.
There’s an air of Gina G’s ‘Just a Little Bit’ to this, and not in a good way, with Eric Cantona pulling a facial expression which screams “I’ll say the words, but I’m not happy about it”. Rumour has it that Cantona only scored his late winner because he feared the song would get another airing if the game went to extra-time.
The sight of stony-faced United players speak-singing lyrics which surely got added in much later reeks of the Tory party’s occasional attempts to reconnect with young voters by asking a 40-year-old recruitment consultant what kids these days are into.
Still, at least Gary Pallister seems to be enjoying himself.