For years I held back from putting this belter on one of my tapes because the song was only really known by a few and I thought it should be kept that way. But that was a bit selfish so I asked the well known, long-standing Red and fellow songster JT if he would mind it going on a forthcoming CD. He first taught me the tune on a Euro away and seemed to wait until I was suitably pissed before singing it again, knowing full well that I would never recall it once sober.With Doctor Martens on our feet We marched into the Kippax Street Proclaiming that the King was Denis Law He once stood in front of the Stretford End Scoring goals that sent us around the bend But Denis doesn’t play there anymore
(Chorus)We battered Scousers, Geordies, Cockney and Brummies too
For we are the famous Scoreboard Paddock crew And we’ll get off those trains and wait outside those Shed End gates To batter one-armed Babs and his harmless little few The Football League was boring us When Europe started calling us They said come on over and show us all your ways Tell us all about your rucks As you drive about in transit trucks Come tell us of the battle of Etienne
What’s the tune?
It is of course Matchstalk Men And Matchstalk Cats and Dogs which was by a duo called Brian and Michael and recorded at Stockport’s Pluto studio in tribute to the artist LS Lowry. Backing singing came from St Winifred’s School choir and it topped the charts for three weeks in 1978 before being knocked off the top by the Bee Gees’ Night Fever.
Some of the original lyricsHe painted Salford’s smoky tops On cardboard boxes from the shops And parts of Ancoats where I used to play I’m sure he once walked down our street Cause he painted kids who had nowt on their feet The clothes we wore had all seen better days And he painted matchstalk men and matchstalk cats and dogs He painted kids on the corner of the street with the sparkling clogs Now he takes his brush and he waits outside them factory gates To paint his matchstalk men and matchstalk cats and dogs
Does anybody else sing it?
Celtic fans recorded a very good version with six verses in honour of former hero Willie Malay:Willie Malay was his name He brought some great names to the game When he was the boss at Celtic Park He taught them how to play football He made the greatest of them all Gallagher and Quinn have left their mark. And they gave us James McGrory and Paul McStay They gave us Johnstone, Tully, Murdoch, Auld and Hay And most of the football greats have past through Parkhead’s gates All to play football the Glasgow Celtic way
I’m not aware of other teams having versions of this classic song but being a real singalong folky sort of tune I wouldn’t rule it out. With the writers from Manchester and our fine city mentioned in the original lyrics I feel no shame in using the tune again to pen the following ditty, which got the thumbs up on some away trips this season:The Arabs came with all their cash Made Stockport’s finest trim their ‘tache And dream of all the cups that they would win A who is who of who’ll they ll buy And how they’ll make united cry But we’re not worried and I’ll tell you why
(Chorus)We’ve seen off Arsenal, Chelsea, and the Scousers too Blackburn, Newcastle and Leeds it’s true So we’re ready for Mark Hughes and his band of bitter Blues Cos the Red Army is coming after you They claim that Manchester is blue But we all know that isn’t true That’s why the council’s ground is never full They take out ads to spread that lie An urban myth until they die But we’re not worried and I’ll tell you why
(Chorus)They’ve signed that young boy from Brazil But Pele said he must be ill And who are we to doubt the grand old man? They’re gonna sign Kaka and Stam, Nelson Mandela and me mam But we’re not worried and I’ll tell you why
From the album “Sauna Of Love – United We Sing 8” check out the album on the music page.
This article was first published by Pete Boyle in Red Issue magazine