Professor Costas Karageorghis, divisional lead, sport, health and exercise sciences spoke to The Athletic for this feature. After Chorley Town's FA Cup win they revisit his 2018 study tracking how Premier League academy players use music to psych themselves up...
No one can quite put their finger on why Chorley adopted Someone Like You as their victory anthem. The outside world may only have become aware of the unlikely association as the club from the sixth tier have progressed thrillingly into the fourth round of the FA Cup, their feats accompanied on social media by those bellowed post-match renditions of the ballad delivered in cramped dressing rooms, all armpits and howling to the heavens through a sweaty fug.
Yet this all pre-dates the startling victories over Derby County and Peterborough United, Wigan Athletic and York City, which have carried them into Friday’s tie with Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Ask those around the club and the consensus is they first latched on to Adele’s melodious lament over a defunct relationship when Garry Flitcroft was in charge, three managers ago, probably while the song was lingering at the top of the charts in 19 countries at the start of the last decade. Matt Jansen, a player at Chorley at the time before enjoying his own stint in the dugout, remembers hearing it after one win “and all the lads broke into song, and it just stuck”. The current manager Jamie Vermiglio, like Jansen, would initially have belted it out as a player at Victory Park, but choruses it just as vigorously in his new role these days.
All this club’s notable recent successes, from promotion to the National League in 2019 to this season’s cup run, have been decorated by hearty post-match renditions. The squad know the words off by heart. The captain Scott Leather used to watch his predecessor Andy Teague put it on and now considers those duties his own “because it’s a bit of a belter, to be fair, isn’t it?” He usually waits for the initial frenzy of Danzel’s Pump It Up, which tends to accompany the victorious players as they bounce back into the changing room, to die down before responding to the calls of, “We want Adele”.
The goalkeeper Matt Urwin claims just thinking about the song gives him “the chills” and every time he hears the multi-award-winning singer-songwriter mournfully wishing her ex “nothing but the best”, it instantly — and incongruously — catapults him back to joyous times basking with his team-mates in victory. It seems an odd choice to bring a group together in celebration.
Adele penned the verses in the aftermath of an 18-month relationship with the man she once envisaged she would marry. She is broken-hearted, the tempo slow and the subject matter more sombre than defiant. The adrenaline-fuelled players tend to seize on the second stanza to thump on whatever is to hand — the ceiling, walls, tables, tactical whiteboards with magnetic discs sent flying around the room — to inject some energy into their rendition, but, even if the composer has admitted she found it cathartic to write, none of this is upbeat.
She posted a heart emoji — her first Tweet since October — in response to a video of the players’ singalong on Chorley’s official feed, but surely could never have imagined the song would be a non-League football squad’s adopted track to salute, say, their 4-3 penalty shootout success over Spennymoor to gain promotion two years ago. Or, even, that recent 2-0 win over Derby’s awkward blend of under-23s and youth teamers.
Then again, it is always possible to find pleasure in music and, with its anthemic chorus, this is more about familiarity and unity than anything else. A squad bonding in victory and hollering to the rafters as one. “They wanted a song that was special to them, one that everyone knew,” said Andy Preece, who combines a role on the first-team coaching staff with duties leading the club’s education programme. “It’s not your typical song you’d have on in the dressing room to celebrate a win, but everybody knows it. Everybody gets together, and there’s a little bit in the middle where you can really get into it.
“Look, it’s just great to share something like that at the end of the game. Great for camaraderie. You need that togetherness so, when we were promoted and when we’ve had big cups wins, it’s always been that song.”
Wolves, overwhelming favourites on Friday but a team with a solitary win in seven matches in all competitions, will shudder at the very thought that they could leave Lancashire to the strains of Adele booming out of the home dressing room later this week.
Changing rooms across all levels of the game have throbbed to the blare of teams’ tunes of choice since the emergence of the ghetto blaster way back in the 1980s. For some, music became part of their drill, particularly pre-match. Wimbledon’s Crazy Gang, who rose from non-League to the top division, would strut into away grounds at more established clubs to a deafening din, with the boombox invariably propped on Vinnie Jones’ shoulder on the walk from the coach. The disruptive soundtrack to their visit was a key element of a provocative routine — along with John Fashanu practising martial arts, or Jones headbutting the toilet door in full sight of the opposition. Theirs were the tactics of intimidation. Martin Keown, a regular opponent of that team, once called it “their battle cry to get into match mode”.
The clamour from the away dressing room once had Brian Clough instructing his assistant manager at Nottingham Forest, Alan Hill, to knock on the door and ask that the music be turned down so he could hear himself think. Hill was greeted by a growling Jones, clad in nothing but his underpants, who agreed to the request only to crank up the volume even further before Hill had reported back to his boss. The farce was repeated — “This time, would you say turn the music down please” — much to Jones’ amusement before Clough’s temper snapped.
Mark Crossley, the Forest goalkeeper, recalled the manager storming into the away dressing room 10 minutes before kick-off, brushing past Jones in the doorway en route, and picking up the ghetto blaster before smashing it on the floor. “He just said: ‘Now play your fucking music, Wimbledon’, turned around and stormed out. Even the Crazy Gang didn’t say owt to him.”
True to family tradition, Clough’s son, Nigel, initially banned pre-match music when starting out on his four-year stint in charge at Derby. “It was strange,” said the club’s former winger, Kris Commons. “We just weren’t used to the place being so quiet. It was like a morgue.” The defender, Shaun Barker, eventually persuaded the manager to sanction the playing of some tunes on a couple of speakers to raise the mood, though Clough Jnr would always insist the first two songs played were his. “Neil Diamond and Dire Straits,” recalled Commons with a shudder.
But if Wimbledon, a club punching admirably above their weight, remain an extreme example of an invasive approach, plenty of teams turn the atmosphere in their changing room into something akin to a nightclub on match days. Dele Alli has spoken of how the right music can “change moods” around a squad. “In football, it’s a massive thing,” Rio Ferdinand told the We Need To Talk vodcast last month. “Whether preparing or after a game, in the car on the way to training or on the coach to a match, it’s all about music. It sets the vibe, the mindset, for going into battle.”
Its effects have been the focus of several scientific studies over the years, not least a report examining football specifically and led by Professor Costas Karageorghis at London’s Brunel University back in 2018. The study tracked 34 academy players aged 16 to 23 at a Premier League club over the course of a season, scrutinising how the group used music to prepare themselves psychologically for matches. A researcher was embedded within the junior set-up, observing habits first-hand as well as overseeing the collection of questionnaires, reflective diaries and interviews.
The evidence gleaned from the players’ testimonies suggested music could stimulate and regulate emotions, building self-belief and allaying nerves. It could lead to increased work output and greater precision in training and playing, as well as building up the perception of group cohesion and positivity, ensuring all involved were on the same wavelength.
“Music can hype, it can give this sense of esprit de corps, it can give a sense of focus,” says Karageorghis, divisional lead in sport, health and exercise sciences at Brunel’s department of life sciences, and author of Applying Music in Exercise and Sport. “The other element is it can enhance self-confidence and what we psychologists call collective efficacy — the individual perception of the team’s ability to rise to a given challenge. As well as having self-confidence, having confidence in your team as a whole is important.”
One of the players spoke of feeling fatigued and agitated as he laboured through a gym session, only for a team-mate to put on Post To Be by Omarion — “He knows that’s my tune” — which served to spur him on, leaving him reinvigorated. Some of the academy players suggested music was so integral to their routine that they actually felt ill-prepared if they did not dip into their playlists before a game or training session.
“Music’s function in this particular study could be grouped under three rubrics,” says Karageorghis. “First was the notion of team cohesion. Undoubtedly, music can unify a team towards achieving a given task. Think back to Euro ’96, a watershed moment in terms of the relationship between music and sporting endeavour, when England walked out at Wembley to face Germany in the semi-finals and all you could hear was this reverberation of Baddiel and Skinner’s It’s Coming Home, 80,000 voices as one: a great illustration of how music can unify a team with its supporters in pursuit of a particular goal or task — to win those home championships.
“In terms of performance, ‘task’ cohesion is more important and predictive of outcomes than ‘social’ cohesion, but the social element is also worth considering. I have worked in track and field all my life and, in the late 1990s, we had a fine team here at Brunel who went on to become quite big names in track and field, including sprinting triplets. The sisters attracted a huge amount of media attention which caused some antagonism with those other athletes on the team who were higher ranked or rated slightly higher. So I created a video highlights package of the athletes and set it to We Are Family by Sister Sledge and, whenever we arrived at a major competition, we’d play it as the very last thing the athletes saw and heard before entering the fray.
“This sensitised them to the fact we were a team — we were a family. As a result, they’d encourage each other, shout support from the stands, look out for each other. It was an attempt to bolster the social cohesion of the team at a time I thought social cohesion was waning.
“Beyond cohesion, music offers performance gains. It is a legal drug. A stimulant. It has the power to bring people together. There’s something primaeval about creating music with other people, as Chorley were doing, or even moving in time with music. Music gives us a sense we are pulling the strings, we are the masters of our own destiny, that we can achieve our objectives in a given, competitive context.
“The third element is psychological. We can use music to intimidate our opponents, much as Wimbledon did back in the day. Think of the New Zealand All Blacks and how they lay down the challenge with the Haka, or those on the Kop at Anfield belting out Gerry and the Pacemakers. It unites the fans behind you. It’s amazing how the music of a sporting arena can even influence the pattern of play. Think about the style of play of the Brazilian team emulating the rhythm that accompanies them from the stands.”
The study concluded that the right music can supercharge team spirit among elite players, helping to strengthen feelings of togetherness within the group. It also noted how younger players tended to fall in line with senior team-mates’ taste in music, readily complying with the perceived hierarchy within the squad. “If people who influence the group have a particular musical predilection, then the junior players seemed to adopt that musical preference,” says Karageorghis. “Someone’s standing within a team can influence how others take up the music.”
The evidence accrued by Karageorghis and Brunel tallies with testimonies from senior dressing rooms. Dele Alli, a key player under Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham Hotspur, was the self-appointed DJ at the club and would put together an eclectic mix in an attempt to suit all tastes, for all that he often found himself attempting to wrest back control from the club’s French contingent, led by Serge Aurier, who would attempt to hijack the sound system by connecting to the Bluetooth to play something more to their taste.
Pochettino would give his players free rein to listen to whatever they liked until half an hour before kick-off when the music was turned off, according to the manager, “because silence is best for us to focus”. “But music’s a massive part of life with the squad,” said Dele. “It can change moods.”
Jordan Henderson, the team captain, has taken on the role at Liverpool, organising the squad’s Spotify playlist to which each player is encouraged to contribute — a nod to democratisation in the hope it might provide a song-list that appeals to the broadest possible contingency — even if it is the physios and masseurs who tend to hook the music up and make sure it is on upon the players’ arrival. Drake’s God’s Plan was the last tune played before the team took the field in the 2018 Champions League final against Real Madrid in Kyiv. Last season, the curtain-raiser tended to be Kanye West’s All of the Lights, a song released over a decade ago. The players took to their victory stage to the track at the end of last season as they collected their medals before lifting the trophy to another favourite, Coldplay’s A Sky Full of Stars.
“The list will change over the course of the season, but we try to have a range of music on in the dressing room,” said James Milner. “There’s some Latino stuff, some hardcore rap, a bit of African music. Sadio Mane’s music goes down well in the dressing room. Some of the lads will have headphones on anyway, listening to their own music, but the playlist is nice because it enables everyone to feel part of it.” Interestingly, Milner cannot recall that custom being the norm when he started his professional career back at Leeds United at the start of the century.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, now Milner’s team-mate, once went public with his complaints that the music played in the dressing room towards the end of his time at Arsenal had gone rather stale. “You get 25 games in and you’re listening to the same songs over and over,” he said. “Things start to get a bit tedious.” As a relatively senior member of that side before his £35 million sale to Liverpool in 2017, he at least felt he could inject more Jay-Z, Tyga and the perennial Drake to proceedings.
The sense of hierarchy existed in Manchester United’s dressing room back in the pre-streaming days when Ferdinand, as the designated disc jockey, was burning compilation CDs to be played. He had to tread that awkward line between his team-mates’ diverse music tastes. “For guys from my background in the game, rap, hip-hop, grime… that’s been a big part of our make-up in terms of getting motivated for a game: I’d want Kano, but we were in Manchester and there were certain guys into rock, or someone wanting mad music like Slipknot. A mad song coming out of nowhere could kill your vibe, so that’s where headphones come in: I want what I want to be ready to go out and play football. Everyone’s different.”
Compromise can be complicated, as laid bare when Deezer made public some of the playlists compiled by United’s players in 2017. While Jesse Lingard was preparing by listening to Beyonce or Lil Uzi Vert, and Ashley Young favoured the Fugees and Jackson Five, their team-mate Bastian Schweinsteiger was apparently more partial to 99 Red Balloons by Nena, Adele’s Hello, Ed Sheeran’s biggest hits and songs lifted from the Mamma Mia! soundtrack.
At Crystal Palace, the experienced centre-half Damien Delaney’s preference was rock and roll, country or blues, but he would argue incessantly with Yannick Bolasie and Wilfried Zaha “about their shit choices of music” played on the sound system. “The amount of crap I had to listen to,” Delaney told The Athletic. “I think I officially gave up when someone told me there was a type of music called drill.”
Peter Crouch, in his Stoke days, once played a Fleetwood Mac song only for Saido Berahino to ask whether it was a movie soundtrack. Crouch later complained that no one liked his choices — predominantly ’90s Britpop — “apart from the staff… and Joe Allen”. In that context, perhaps it is understandable that more players than ever retreat into their own pre-match bubbles these days, designer cans clamped to their ears, until the time is right to reengage with the group ahead of kick-off.
“That creates a player’s listening bubble, but does very little for team unity,” adds Karageorghis. “If you’re asking me as a psychologist whether, in a task interdependent sport like soccer where everybody has to function as a unit, would preparing individually be optimal? I would say, ‘no’. Yes, conduct some individual preparation. But you need to be walking out on to the pitch in rhythm with one another. In harmony. As a unit.
“Music can almost be a subconscious method of imbuing the atmosphere with that sense of unity. It might be there’s just one anthem to pull people together.”
Those anthems can feel unlikely. A Chris Rea song worked for Liverpool ahead of the 1984 European Cup final in Rome. As Joe Fagan’s players emerged from their dressing room and into the tunnel at the Stadio Olimpico before kick-off, nerves biting, the substitute David Hodgson — who was the team’s allocated master of music — started singing “I don’t know what it is, but I love it”, a record that never rose higher than No 65 in the charts (it did reach No 23 in Ireland). Sammy Lee and Craig Johnston joined in on the chorus. By the time the AS Roma players had joined them in the tunnel, the entire 15-man Liverpool squad was in full voice, bellowing the two-line chorus.
“And I don’t know what it is but I love it
And I don’t know what it is but I want it to stay.”
“We just kept singing it over and over again,” said Mark Lawrenson. “They looked at us and absolutely shat themselves. They didn’t know what was going on.” It may have been a soft rock battle cry, but the Merseyside club eventually prevailed on penalties against the Italian club, playing in their own stadium, after a 1-1 draw. So it could be argued Rea worked.
Other choices were less successful. Roy Keane’s fourth match in senior management took his Sunderland side to Ipswich Town for a Championship fixture in September 2006, with the Irishman horrified that the last track his players heard before taking to the pitch, picked by the masseur who was in charge of the music, was Dancing Queen by ABBA. He recalled two of his side dancing in the corner of the changing room as if “they didn’t want to go out and play — they wanted to listen to bloody ABBA instead”.
“What really worried me was that none of the players — nobody — said, ‘Get that shit off’,” Keane wrote in his autobiography. “I stood back and thought, ‘It’s not my place, either. I’m learning’. We went 1-0 up but we lost 3-1. I don’t think it was down to Dancing Queen, but after the match I criticised the players. It was one of the few times that I lost my rag. They had to take responsibility, I told them it was their music. ‘What motivates you? This is your music’. They were going out to play a match, men versus men; testosterone levels were high. You’ve got to hit people at pace.
“Fuckin’ Dancing Queen? I wouldn’t have minded if it had been one of ABBA’s faster ones.” The masseur, whom Keane claimed had been “running everything at the bloody club” before his arrival, was not in the role for much longer after.
Micah Richards wanted “to get hypo” before a game and was taken aback at how effective the BPM on Aleksandar Kolarov’s Serbian music selection had his juices flowing. Mick McCarthy apparently used to vet the songs played in the dressing room at his clubs for swearing. “He has very high standards and didn’t want to hear bad language, or language referring to race or racial issues,” says Alan Lee, a striker whose 20-year professional career took in spells at 10 clubs, and a coach at Ipswich’s academy while McCarthy oversaw the first-team at Portman Road. “Kids being kids, they put it on, but we just didn’t think it was right for the club. Quite a few times I had to be careful with those things and manage them in the right way.”
That said, Lee had once used his pre-match music choice to make his thoughts on the management staff at the club at the time very evident. “If I hold my hands up, I did add Road to Nowhere by Talking Heads once when there was a manager in charge who I wasn’t impressed with. I think he saw the funny side.”
Injecting some humour into proceedings tends to be a tactic. The Burnley manager Sean Dyche has a reputation as a music lover and has spoken publicly of being influenced by his elder brothers’ love of punk through to the New Romantics scene. His own journey took him from rave to Madchester, Kasabian and Green Day. He was one of those who crammed into Knebworth Park to see Oasis in 1996. And yet, sensing nerves gripping his team ahead of a game at Newcastle on New Year’s Day, 2015, he leapt to his feet in the dressing room as Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ Uptown Funk — hardly his anticipated track of choice — came on over the speakers.
“The gaffer started throwing a few shapes,” says David Jones, who played in the visitors’ midfield that day. “It put the dressing room into a more jovial mood and broke the tension. When you are concentrating on the game, it’s not all about being in silence and concentrating. Sometimes you need something to lighten the mood and help everyone relax. The gaffer was always brilliant with noticing what is needed mentally with the players. Whether or not he is just a big fan of Bruno Mars I don’t know… maybe he just wanted to throw a few shapes.”
Palace walked out at Hillsborough in 2010 for a fixture that would decide their future in the Championship with I Gotta Feeling by the Black Eyed Peas and, rather more surprisingly, the Proclaimers’ I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) still ringing in their ears with the senior personnel in the group having ensured, according to Lee, “that everyone got up and danced and screamed like a lunatic”.
“It’s very easy to dismiss that as crazy, but there was something in it,” he says. “If you weren’t prepared to stand up there and make a fool of yourself… it was almost like a rite of passage, it created a bond. The Black Eyed Peas song was a bit more aggressive, we’d get ourselves going with that, and have a bit of fun with 500 Miles. A few people tried to duck out, but they’d give in with force of personality. It’s pretty hard when you have Clint Hill, Paddy McCarthy, Danny Butterfield, Shaun Derry and me screaming in your face.” Palace drew the game 2-2 and survived.
Yet there is always the risk that such rigid protocol can alienate members of the group. Some, though by no means all, of those Billericay Town players — Jamie O’Hara and Paul Konchesky, formerly of Premier League clubs, among them — do not look entirely comfortable when told to link arms in a circle pre-match by the then-manager and owner, Glenn Tamplin, and sing R Kelly’s World’s Greatest.
“Sing it properly, shut your eyes and mean it… shut your eyes and think about what you’re going to do on that pitch, shut your eyes and sing!”
Although plenty belt it out with gusto, there are uneasy glances and sheepish, embarrassed smirks among others as they insist: “I am a mountain, I am a tall tree, oh.”
The most celebrated rendition, ahead of the Alan Turvey Trophy final in the spring of 2017, did pre-empt an 8-3 win over Tonbridge Angels, a result only really achievable by a team united, but forcing players to partake in such ceremony carries an element of risk. “Speaking generally, it can be a disastrous process and precisely what you should not be doing,” says the sports psychologist Dan Abrahams, who has advised elite athletes, clubs and governing bodies across different sports. “You have 18 players in the squad, and every single one of them will want to prepare differently.
“I remember Xavi talking about Barcelona sitting the team down pre-match and playing them a motivational video, and he said it was a nightmare. They were awful for the first 10 minutes of the game itself because you can’t put a blanket motivational video in front of a group half an hour before the game and expect it to work positively for everyone. It’s 1970s stuff, a complete misunderstanding of how humans function and how high performance works.
“When it comes to singalongs pre-match or post-match, there will be scenarios where some players love it because of that social cohesion element. Some will like it and feel it does, indeed, make a difference for them. Others will feel fairly neutral and go along with it because they feel it might make a difference. But more still will be compliant. They don’t really want to do it but, even though they’re uncomfortable, they’d never want to be seen not to be doing it because ‘it’s what the group does’. In all honesty, before a game, I’d suggest (a singalong) would court disaster.”
It is a slightly different scenario post-match when, with the adrenaline still flowing and the team heartened in victory, players want to bask in both triumph and a shared endeavour. Someone Like You, even as a lament, would fit that mould. “Post-match music does not need to be upbeat,” says Professor Karageorghis. “It can be slow and anthemic, and therefore easier to sing along to. I’ve heard the full gambit of tempi, so I don’t think tempo is necessarily an indicator.”
There is scope for upbeat too, of course. Dundee used to bounce around the room to Gwen McCrae’s Keep the Fire Burning. Maintaining the disco theme, Scotland’s national team have adopted Baccara’s hit Yes Sir, I Can Boogie, a track that marked out qualification for the summer’s European Championship. They apparently chose the 1977 classic — which spent a week at No 1 more than 40 years ago and resurfaced in an advertisement for a chocolate bar in 2014 — after their defender, Andrew Considine, was filmed dressed in drag dancing to the tune on his stag do five years ago. The rather snazzy video was subsequently used at his wedding and re-emerged into the public domain after he was called up for the first time last year at the age of 33.
Footage from Belgrade in the immediate aftermath of their play-off success over Serbia saw the national team’s players — with the exception of John McGinn and the scorer that night, Ryan Christie, who were selected for drugs tests — dancing manically around their changing room in celebration. “I would hypothesise as a psychologist that a good singalong provides a collective release of oxytocin, the hormone that underpins togetherness,” says Abrahams. The song returned to the charts, albeit only at No 57, in November on the back of Scotland’s success with Baccara’s singer, Maria Mendiola, having since expressed a willingness to re-record the track to be released over the summer.
“The key is that the celebration and the music bring people together again,” adds Professor Karageorghis. “It’s a hugely pleasurable experience that takes us to the very core of what it means to be human: when we can sing and dance and celebrate a particular success. It’s something that creates a positive, aesthetic experience and makes us crave the same success on the pitch again. It unifies us but makes us yearn for the next time we can be successful, to have that rewarding experience of coming together and being able to sing. So it’s almost a taster for what’s to come, pre-empting what the team might repeat.
“The cohesion of a team has some very positive consequences in terms of its stability, its relative and absolute performance effectiveness, and also how players are able to deal with pre-match anxiety. So cohesion in a team is something that’s not to be sniffed at. I mentioned task-related cohesion being most important in terms of performance outcomes, but social cohesion has an additive effect. If you can get both, that is optimal. And music can certainly help you achieve both.”
Newcastle’s players took on Deacon Blue’s Dignity as their anthem to accompany a promotion campaign from the Championship back in 2010. “It was my dad’s karaoke song, weirdly,” says Joey Barton. “My Dad was semi-pro so most of my young years were spent travelling on coaches to non-League games. They used to have a sing-song on the way home with a few beers and a game of cards and, if we had a good win, we were allowed to have a few beers and get a sing-song going. It festered from that really.
“At the start of the year, the captain put an iPod on shuffle before a game so we wouldn’t have one type of music dominating and everyone had been asked to nominate a song for themselves for the playlist. It just ended up on that playlist and just got adopted as our anthem. It fit perfectly with the situation we’d been in and were going through; it meant something. It’s a great tune to have on when you won a game. I reckon about 50 people will claim they put it on (the playlist), but it was my karaoke song, that I’d stolen from my dad.
“I remember singing it at Kevin Nolan’s Dad’s birthday in the top part of The Diamond (a pub in Ponteland) and, honestly, I thought the floor was going to go.”
In the context that, post-match, virtually anything goes, Chorley’s adoption of a ballad by Adele should be considered less surprising. Indeed, considering the England cricket team once whipped themselves up into this hand clapping, feet stomping frenzy to Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire after drawing a series in India back in 2006, nothing should be considered too unusual. The world had initially been mystified at the sight of Andrew Flintoff calling his players together to sing the song, first released in 1963, assuming they had taken the lead from Liverpool and their supporters.
Ring of Fire had become the catchy anthem of the Merseysiders’ successful 2005 Champions League campaign under Rafael Benitez after it caught on having been played on the supporters’ coach on which Jamie Carragher’s father and his friends travelled to away games. Steven Gerrard and Carragher Jnr belted it out as they lifted the trophy for the cameras at the Ataturk Stadium, and it was hollered by those on the Kop in subsequent seasons. So, publicly at least, the England cricketers played along with that copycat notion for a while.
It was simply the tune of the moment. Until it emerged that Flintoff and his squad had actually been struck down mid-tour by a particularly nasty dose of Delhi Belly, making the choice of track rather more appropriate.
Proof that players and staff can be united in song regardless of the circumstances.
This was first published in The Athletic