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Euro's 2021: Press Play For The Nation

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Euro's 2021: Press Play For The Nation

The Ties That Bind.

On Tuesday 29th June 2021 a hard-bitten England football supporter put together a playlist purely for his own amusement. After a fairly depressing time for everyone over the last 14 months, the delayed Euro 2020 tournament has been a breath of fresh air. Regardless of England's performances, it's brought a sense of optimism and joy that seemed lost for so much of 2020.

The premise of the playlist that day was almost to convince myself that regardless of the thumping we were about to receive, music conquers all. I had already in my mind the post-match slump onto the settee in hollow commiseration. This was, after all, Germany. This playlist was the pre-game party, and the post-game comedown. Lo and behold, England found their form and we cruised through to the next round. Since making said playlist, we've done it again and at the time of writing are awaiting to face Denmark tomorrow in the semi-final round. It's getting better all the timeeeee!

So, you might think aside from obvious football-themed songs, what's the link binding this list together? And the answer to that is there isn't, it's just songs I would like to hear before a football game; songs to get you pumped, songs to rouse your spirits and instil that immortal fist pump into the sky feeling of euphoria, the feeling that yes, we can do it ladies and gentleman, now is our time. Songs from the home nations to inspire our brave boys in this year's Euro's to (as I affectionately call it) 'do em!'

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It's In Our Blood.

With that in mind, I set about compiling a set that would not only make any self-respecting reveller dance, but also pump up the players to deliver on the pitch. I was born during a full moon in September 1987, so in the summer of 1996 I was running around the streets in the grey England away shirt, stereo's pumping on the windowsills. It was a golden summer. Subconsciously, the sounds of the mid-90's were embedding themselves deeply. My older brother was going arty with Suede's 'Coming Up' but I was drawn to the more guttural and straightforward rock of Oasis and Ocean Colour Scene. Both bands feature here and seem to embody the spirit of that year and the tragedy of the ’96 Euro campaign.

In my mind, football and music are intrinsically linked. Whether it's the Gallagher's love of Manchester City, the hyper-English matchday swagger of Blur and ‘Parklife,’ or good old George Best boogying to Deep Purple on ITV in 1970, the link is long-established. A scroll through the compilation here will point towards a few things: it's heavily influenced by Mancunian pop/rock as well as Liverpool. Both are proud footballing cities, even prouder of their musical legacies, and both have produced some of the greatest bands and songs the world has ever known.

A History Of The Unforgettable.

Think back to the stunning Maine Road gigs Oasis played in 1995, Liam confidently striding out in a pale blue Umbro Drill top. It wasn't uncommon to see a football or two being kicked into the crowd here either. In fact it felt like the absolute epitome of music legend, harvesting all the joys and essence of togetherness that one great song and one great moment can ignite amongst the nation.

What's the closest thing to a big football match? A big band putting on a HUGE gig. Listening to the likes of ‘Step On’ by the immortal Happy Mondays, ‘Loaded’ by Primal Scream and the colossal show stealer ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’ by The Verve takes me to a place unique only to top-level sport and top-level music. Yes, we're talking bucket hats and yes, we're talking arms aloft balancing precariously on your mates' shoulders while you warble your way through second verse lyrics you were never quite sure of (don’t worry, the sound of the accompanying crowd will drown out your interpretation).

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Don't Look Back Into The Sun.

It would be remiss of me to ignore the '30 years of hurt' which has since become 55. It's these crushing disappointments that make us fans what we are. Dreamers, hopeless romantics looking for a brighter day. 1998, 2000 and 2002 whizzed by in a flash. I recall a tournament game around this era when a chair was thrown into a television, mid-match. We were getting frustrated! This playlist does reflect 1996 and the years immediately after, but there's a lot to be said for the late 90's and early 2002's indie rejuvenating the industry and giving football fans something new to sing. Devoted Queens Park Rangers supporter Peter Doherty's yelp during the intro of The Libertines classic 2003 single 'Don't Look Back Into The Sun' feels like a call to arms.

At this moment of writing, Pulp's 'Do You Remember The First Time' is bouncing off the walls on a cool summer evening. Now, I take it to reference 1966 and THAT golden summer. That year, a very unique set of men won us the World Cup. Those men are now etched into our nation’s proud footballing history and have grown in stature to near-mythical proportions, rightfully so, their legend entwined into the golden era of the British blues explosion and the birth of British rock n’ roll. Perhaps we don't have characters like dear old Jack Charlton or Nobby Stiles...but what we do have is a young Brummie by the name of Jack Grealish and a twinkle in his eye (does anyone else get pseudo-Beckham vibes?)

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Symphony Of Victory.

I encourage you all to make your own playlist in the run-up to the next game and definitely for the final (can't believe I'm typing that) should we make it. There's no feeling like progressing through a football competition, the confidence and experience earned is unbelievable, not to mention the feelings of utter elation as you dance and revel through the pages of British musical history with your friends in arms, as that last penalty soars into the back of the net.

Thank you for reading this little article and if it's the first time you're hearing some of these songs, where have you been?! As the bard of Skelmersdale, Richard Ashcroft sings so succinctly in 'Symphony:

"Well, I've never prayed, but tonight I'm on my knees, yeah

I need to hear some sounds that recognize the pain in me, yeah"

This is music. And WE ARE ENGLAND. Come on!

Press Play Here!

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