Destinations Magazine

It's A London Thing No.72

By Lwblog @londonwalks

It's A London Thing No.72It’s a London Thing is our Wednesday series in which we turn the spotlight on a unique aspect of London – perhaps a curious shop, sometimes an eccentric restaurant, a hidden place, book or oddity. The subject matter will be different every week. The running theme, however, will remain constant: you have to come to London to enjoy it. It’s A London Thing.
Football Singing. It’s a London Thing.
Blue is the colour, football is the game We're all together and winning is our aim So cheer us on through the sun and rain ‘Cos Chelsea, Chelsea is our name.
The lyric is clearly of a bygone age – a football song with no battle metaphors or aggressive triumphalism. The spirit of fair play and playing for the sake of the game is alive and well in these lines.
The sound of this bygone age oompah-beat ditty filling the air at a 21st Century Wembley Stadium last week would have sounded like something of an anachronism to the untrained ear. A relic of the music hall era lost in a state-of-the-art sporting arena.
In fairness the “trained ear” would also have had ample excuse to reach for the cotton wool plugs. Blue Is The Colour is hardly a musical classic (with apologies to the Czech performer František Ringo Čech who popularised the song as a football anthem in the days of the old Czechoslovakia).
But it is beloved of Chelsea fans everywhere – and they found occasion to sing it in celebration last week when they won the F.A Cup at Wembley, here in London.
This deeply uncool song stubbornly remains the more-or-less “official” song of Chelsea Football Club – despite the club’s long-standing image as the favorite of the fashionable fancy Dans and sophisticated media types of the capital.
The song is also popular in Canada with the fans of Canadian Football team Saskatchewan Roughriders, who render it as Green Is The Colour; over in Vancouver acolytes of the Whitecaps soccer team sing it as White Is The Colour. In Norway fans of Molde FK also sing the song – in another Blue version.
(There is an equally popular Chelsea singalong which features an act of physical intimacy involving the use of celery, but The Daily Constitutional is not the place to discuss such matters so we draw a veil over the whole affair.)
It's A London Thing No.72
The recording of the song made the charts in 1972, released on Penny Farthing Records (above). It features the entire Chelsea squad of the day on what we could loosely term “lead vocals”. They recorded it ahead of their appearance in the League Cup Final… which they then lost to Stoke City.
Let’s hope that Chelsea are luckier in the Champions League Final against Bavarian giants Bayern Munich on the 19th May.
Over in the East End, West Ham are also heading for a big game – the Championship Play Off Final against Blackpool on the same day as Chelsea take a tilt at Bayern Munich. The winner is promoted to The Premier League.
West Ham’s anthem is also a golden oldie. I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles.
I'm forever blowing bubbles, Pretty bubbles in the air, They fly so high, Nearly reach the sky, Then like my dreams, They fade and die. Fortune's always hiding, I've looked everywhere, I'm forever blowing bubbles, Pretty bubbles in the air.
We’re particularly fond of the line “Fortune’s always hiding” – which would seem to typify the West Ham experience. This great club – formed out of an iron works workers’ side in the 19th Century – has won the F.A Cup on three occasions, but the fortune of the League Championship has proved elusive indeed thus far.
I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles is a relic of the old custom of community singing at football matches – formal, organized singalongs before kick off. The fingerprints of this era can still be seen right across the land. At Birmingham City, for example, the fans sing Harry Lauder’s Keep Right On To The End Of The Road; at Bristol Rovers the old Leadbelly tune Goodnight Irene is the favorite.
West Ham’s love of I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles dates back to the 1920s. The song was first used in the world of sport in the country of its origin – the United States. It was the big hit of the The Passing Show of 1918 on Broadway. And just a year later, during the World Series scandal of 1919, the so-called Black Sox affair, it was pressed into service with its lyric amended for satirical purposes to “I’m forever blowing ballgames”.
In 1980 the punk band Cockney Rejects recorded a version. It reached No.35 in the UK charts in the year that West Ham last won the F.A Cup.
West Ham take on Blackpool on the 19th May to win a place in next season’s Premier League. Come on the Hammers!
I’m Forever Blowing Bottles/Blue Is The Colour: It’s A London Thing

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