“Which football grounds are namechecked in songs? I’ll get the ball rolling with Hillsborough in Red Light Indicates Doors Are Secured by Arctic Monkeys,” writes Agatie Fan on Twitter.
Technically, as a few pedants pointed out, the Arctic Monkeys lyric refers to the suburb of Hillsborough rather than the stadium. But we’re in a good mood so we’ll allow it. And this song, too, which checks Old Trafford without actually naming it.
“There’s an obscure Herman’s Hermits song called It’s Nice to Be Out in the Morning, written by professional songwriter and future 10cc bassist Graham Gouldman,” writes Martin Crookall. “It’s like a Manchester travelogue, culminating in a verse about ‘United’s ground where the champions score/ A hundred goals and the Reds’ fans roar/ for Bobby Charlton, Best and Law’, which is close enough to make no difference as far as I’m concerned.”
We’ll be honest, when we first read this question we didn’t expect the Barenaked Ladies to provide an answer. But, as Neil Hickey points out, their 1998 megahit One Week mentions a football stadium in Canada. Not content with referencing everything from LeAnn Rimes to Chickity China, the Chinese chicken, they also pay tribute to “Birchmount Stadium, home of the Robbie …”
Birchmount Stadium in Ontario is the venue for the annual Robbie International Tournament, which prides itself on being the world’s largest annual charitable youth soccer tournament.
James Walker writes in to remind us that Renato Dall’ara, a 2008 song by the kooky indie-pop seven-piece Los Campesinos!, is also the name of Bologna’s stadium.
“My favorite is Dopamine Clouds Over Craven Cottage by ambient-drone duo Stars of the Lid, which appears on their And Their Refinement Of The Decline triple LP,” writes Richard Gunn. “One half of Stars of the Lid is composer Brian McBride, whose namesake was playing for Fulham at the time of the album’s release.”
And whose goalscoring exploits are included at the start of the song.
Finally, there are loads more examples below the original Twitter question, including Billy Bragg, Eminem, Luke Haines and, of course, Half Man Half Biscuit.
Draws with either/ors
“When was the last time the World Cup draw was made without the identities of all the qualifiers being known?” tweets Alastair Horne.
We’re delighted to relate that we had almost no work to do on this one. In fact all we had to do was embed this tweet from Paul O’Neill.
Oh go on then, we might as well add a bit of context. Spain and Yugoslavia finished level on points and goal difference, so they had to play off on a neutral ground. On 13 February 1974 in Frankfurt, West Germany, Josip Katalinski scored the only goal to send Yugoslavia to the World Cup. This game, incidentally, shouldn’t be confused with a more violent qualifier between the sides for the 1978 World Cup.
Wild variations in crowd figures
“What’s the biggest difference in home attendances from one game to the next?Jack Chesterman tweets.
“The seldom discussed Scottish Third Division deserves a mention,” pleads Cam McGlone. “On 15 December 2012 Queen’s Park played host to Elgin City, attracting 466 hardy souls to Hampden Park for a 1-1 draw. Their following home game was against Rangers on 29 December and attracted a crowd of 30,117 – a difference of 29,651. That should be hard to beat without a team changing stadiums or playing behind closed doors.”
A footnote: in the 1-1 draw with Elgin, watched by those 466 people, Queen’s Park’s goal was scored by a teenager called Andrew Robertson. Yep.
“When in my student days I started attending Queen’s Park games, we had a star winger named James Allan,” wrote Matthew Reid in 2011. “I often wondered what happened to him, until he re-emerged as lead singer of Glasvegas. When they supported U2 at Hampden in August 2009, he notched up the rare feat of having performed at the same stadium both musically and footballistically. Is this a unique achievement or has anyone else managed it? Did Andrew Cole ever unleash Outstanding on Wembley?”
It seems Knowledge reader Neil Wright has beaten Cole and co to it. “I’m not sure about any professional players, but I have achieved playing football and music in the same stadium myself!” chirps Neil. “In May 2003 I played in the Southend & District Junior Sunday League Cup final (Under-15s) at Southend United’s Roots Hall. A few years later I returned to the stadium to play guitar in the live band during a Renewal of Promise service for the local Scout districts.”
So, er, now you know.
Can you help?
“Phil Foden got another assist for England in Ivory Coast, his sixth or seventh in 15 caps depending on which source you believe. But who has the most assists for England?” asks Matty Ellis.
“If Luton Town finish higher than 12th in the Championship, which looks increasingly likely, it will be the seventh consecutive year they have improved their league position. Would that be a record?” asks Bogdan Kotarlic.
“The Costa Rican player Yeltsin Tejeda is named after the former Russian president. Are there any other footballers named after politicians? Perhaps a Tony Blair or a Ronald Reagan plying their trade in Series B…” muses Peter Strang.
“Ivory Coast’s Serge Aurier was sent off against England last week in the 40th minute. Red cards in international friendlies are rare, and in the first half even more so – but what is the fastest red card ever given in an international friendly?” asks Joe Scott.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism