How To Start A Football Chant

In readiness for the upcoming footy onslaught, legendary Liverpool FC fan John Mackin unpicks the genius of the terrace singalong.

10 start a footie song

What are the ingredients of a top-drawer football chant?
They are like the ingredients of a brilliant pop song, and by that I mean no one really knows. If there was a recipe, they’d be everywhere.

Where do they start?
When I first started going to the game you had no idea. The ether? Some terrace muse, maybe? But most likely they were concocted in the pubs around the ground, perhaps inspired by a new song seen on Top of the Pops a few days earlier. Quite often, though, songs spontaneously appeared in response to an event on the pitch: Unusual but magical moments of wit and creativity that often cause 50,000 to burst out laughing in unison.

How do you know when you’ve got a good one?
You just know! There’s no blueprint or recipe, when it happens, you just know it. You can’t wait to try it out on people knowing full well they’ll like it. The approval of your peers strengthens your belief in the idea. 

What does it feel like when a chant you made up is sung on an entire terrace?
It’s a heartwarming moment of intense pride. I concocted one simple name chant for Liverpool’s Israeli international Ronnie Rosenthal while standing on the old Clock End at Highbury during a midweek League Cup game. I dredged up “Hava Naglia” and Ronnie’s name fitted perfectly—it soon became a staple on The Kop. Having the entire terrace singing it while dancing a mock 20,000-strong Bar Mitzvah after Ronnie scored a late winner against Everton was unbelievable.

Follow @Mackin_John and visit his website ‘The Rattle’