Rodgers and Hammerstein and Football: 5 Showtunes Beloved by English Soccer Fans
English Premier League fans LOVE Broadway!
You may think that English soccer hooligans have nothing in common with musical-theater queens, but you'd be wrong: Both groups love nothing more than to belt out a good showstopper. To prove our point, TheaterMania has compiled a list of five timeless songs that have been embraced both on the pitch and on the Great White Way. After reading below, you'll soon understand the common appeal. What better way to celebrate the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat than with dramatic music composed for the stage? Plus, these are all classic, hummable tunes that you can remember even when you're really drunk.
1. "I'm on My Way" ― Sunderland Association Football Club
When Sunderland A.F.C. wins a game on their home turf, the crowd goes wild to this opener from the 1951 Lerner and Loewe musical Paint Your Wagon. The show recently received a rare New York City revival courtesy of Encores! at New York City Center. The pioneer optimism of the song obviously works for both California prospectors hoping for gold and football fans dreaming of golden crowned trophies. The below video is a bit of a double feature: Near the end, Sunderland fans start singing "Can't Help Falling in Love," which was originally featured in the 1961 Elvis Presley film Blue Hawaii, but later made it to Broadway via the ill-fated Elvis jukebox musical All Shook Up.
2. "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles" ― West Ham United
Devotees of West Ham United have a distinctly mature taste in musical theater. Their theme is "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles" from the ancient Broadway revue The Passing Show of 1918. Produced by brothers Lee and J.J. Shubert, The Passing Show was a regularly updated amusement in the style of The Ziegfeld Follies. The 1918 show featured a young Fred and Adele Astaire as well as "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles." The song became an instant hit on both sides of the Atlantic and eventually found its way to the Boleyn Ground stadium, where fans have been blowing bubbles ever since.
3. "The Impossible Dream" ― Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club
This power ballad from the Mitch Leigh and Joe Darion's Man of La Mancha (the 1965 musical about self-styled Spanish knight-errant Don Quixote) represents a far more vocally challenging club anthem than "Blowing Bubbles." But hey, when you're as motivated as the Wolves (their affectionate nickname), you need an ambitious theme song. The team has bounced around between divisions in the last decade, briefly competing in the Premier League (the most prestigious) before tumbling down in 2013 to League One ("Division III" in American). They're currently positioned safely within the Championship ("Division II"), but the Wolves are always dreaming that impossible dream of returning to the very top of English football, bearing with unbearable sorrow on their way.
4. ''Blue Moon" ― Manchester City Football Club
This 1934 song by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart (arguably the pair's most popular) has been covered by artists as divergent as Billie Holiday and Rod Stewart. Manchester City fans have adopted it in tribute to their team's blue uniforms, albeit in a rendition far more up-tempo than Richard Rodgers ever intended. Still, the song (which was originally written for the film Hollywood Revue of 1933, but with very different lyrics) shows its elasticity as it captures the hearts of thousands of screaming Mancunians at kickoff.
5. "You'll Never Walk Alone" – Liverpool Football Club
This is the undisputed mother of all soccer showtunes. Since the early 1960s, Liverpool fans have been dutifully serenading their boys with this unforgettable number from Rodgers and Hammerstein's 1945 musical Carousel. The show tells the story of millworker Julie Jordan and her unlikely romance with carousel barker Billy Bigelow. "You'll Never Walk Alone" is an anthem of hope delivered during the show's darkest moment, a useful theme for any die-hard fan watching his team get pummeled by Manchester United. While Liverpudlians are undoubtedly more familiar with the cover by British pop group Gerry and the Pacemakers, the musical-theater aficionados embedded among them know where the song REALLY originated. And truly, when you're a football fan who also loves Broadway, you'll never walk alone.