The England column: The national anthem is NOT a football chant!

Wembley England

As we prepare for next summer's World Cup, Vincent Ralph begins a new weekly column focused on the England national team.

Following the draw for the group stage of next summer’s World Cup, talk is of whether or not England can qualify from a group consisting of Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica.

Perhaps it should be about what Mario Balotelli and Luis Suarez could do prior to that to make it a little easier for us – an indiscretion that would render their talent moot as a result of their absence. But to be honest both players will be there because both players appear to have learnt that what they do on the pitch…with a ball…is a better way of getting noticed.

So instead of talking about the likelihood of us reaching the knock-out stages of a competition we have absolutely no chance of winning, I want to talk about the national anthem.

You know the one. People sing it before the matches kick-off and the fans are always a little ahead of the music, leading to a case of premature satisfaction that they know all the words, a good five seconds before the PA sounds its last note.

Anyway, I have no issue with the national anthem as a national anthem. It is pretty simple to learn, it has a good message, and even the staunchest of karaoke-refusers give it some welly.

In fact having sat through copious internationals, I can safely say ours is among the best anthems, for its length if not its jauntiness. A short anthem always trumps a lengthy one when all you really want to do is watch some football.

But as I will be sitting through at least three England matches that actually mean something this summer, I just have to say something…

The national anthem is NOT a football chant!

Given that a football chant’s primary purpose is to motivate your team, listening to England fans drone on surely does the opposite. It is dull, monotonous, and stirs little more than a fresh wave of torpidity among both the players and the fans forced to suffer it.

In short, England fans need a new set-list. Just one rendition of the national anthem please, prior to the match, where it should be. And no more ‘Rule Britannia’, which can be the most stirring of numbers if you hear it somewhere like the Proms, but is quite the opposite in a football stadium.

No wonder our national team has been so disappointing in recent times. The chants invite lethargy, songs mistakenly seen as motivational chants where all the oomph is lost in the very act of chanting.

It is time for a change, and while we may not win the thing, the least we can do is have fun while we are there.

Now, as for that band…

image: © geetarchurchy

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