The Beach Boys could not have known the effect their 11th studio album, 1966's Pet Sounds, would have on English football well into the 21st century. Sloop John B, a three-minute track charting an old sponger's boat's infamous crew enjoying much merriment whenever they made port, has emerged as the only tune unoriginal football fans adopt for whatever generic song they can think of.
If your ear is attuned when watching games you will hear chant after chant after chant to the same tune, only it isn't the same chant. Brian Wilson's lyrics, "Let me go home/I wanna go home/This is the worst trip I've ever been on", have covered just about every aspect of football. Along with Pigbag and Tom Hark, it is the most overused and tiresome tune.
But where did it all start? The originators are possibly Liverpool, who boasted of their 2005 European Cup win with "We've won it five times/We've won it five tiiiiimes/In Istanbul we won it five times." No one on the Kop seems to mind the glaring inaccuracy, although Manchester United fans claim it was first adopted at West Brom for a League Cup tie in 2003.
It prompted Manchester United fans to retort with "Without killing anyone, we've won it two times", making reference to the 1985 Heysel disaster in which 39 Juventus supporters were killed prior to their European Cup final. After United won it for a third time in Moscow in 2008, it didn't take long for the Red Army in attendance - and notably, Wes Brown - to make it "three" instead of "two" during the post-match celebrations.
Promoted clubs often opt for "this is the best trip I've ever been on". In 2009 Hull City manager Phil Brown, having won one Premier League match in five months, took up the mic gleefully after his club had avoided relegation by virtue of Newcastle being a shambolic mess to croon along to Sloop. His trip ended less than a year later when he was sacked.
Whereas Liverpool supposedly innovated the rest have imitated. Promoted clubs opt for "this is the best trip I've ever been on". In 2009 Hull City manager Phil Brown, having won one Premier League match in five months, took up the mic gleefully after his club had avoided relegation by virtue of Newcastle being a shambolic mess to croon along to Sloop. His trip ended less than a year later when he was sacked.
However the nadir came in 2010 when United fans opted for "We'll do what we want/We'll do what we want/We're Man United, we'll do what we want." It received a mixed reception from within the club's support but it was the soundtrack to their 19th title win. Sometimes it was pertinent. When Chelsea stewards haplessly attempted to make United's following sit down at Stamford Bridge during the 2011 Youth Cup, they were treated to the chant.
Once amusing, now despairing. Since 'We'll do what we want', all manner of generic chants have been to the tune of The Beach Boys' bastardised classic. London clubs, not renowned for their variety or imagination, are the biggest culprits. Arsenal's "Adebayor/Adebayor/Give him the ball and he will score" in 2007-08 showed Sloop had caught on. They used to chant how Robin van Persie "scores when he wants" and now it's Lukas Podolski. Two more egregious instalments with gaping caveats.
Chelsea meanwhile opted for "Anton Ferdinand, you know what you are" after he had been called a "f****** black c***" by John Terry. Some were appalled at the chant's context, others were appalled at it being to the tune of Sloop. The 'you know what you are' schtick has been applied to Luis Suárez too, after he was found guilty of racially abusing Patrice Evra.
Even after winning the Champions League Chelsea couldn't commemorate it with a decent chant. United fans rocked to "Champions of England, champions of Europe" in 2008-09 and rather than go down the line of the recycled "we are the champions, champions of Europe", it was back to good ol' Sloop.
"We know what we are, we know what we are, champions of Europe, we know what we are." Most were delighted at the Blues' Champions League exit because they would not have to hear this again. It lasted four months, but it was four months too long.
Many travelling fans even use Wilson's lyrics nearly verbatim. "This town's a s**thole, I wanna go home" is a favourite. Unless stewards have been instructed to keep away support behind in order for the home fans to disperse, nothing is stopping them from leaving. As someone said on the Cardiff City forums, "well you chose to come here, if you don't like it then f**k off". No one does, though.
And it was apt that the minority of West Ham idiots who aired the disgusting anti-semitic chants ("Adolf Hitler, he's coming for you") at Tottenham last month did so to the terrace's most brainless tune.
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