Sports chants may seem like nothing more than a crowd of people getting a bit rowdy at times, but in truth, it is a valuable tradition which runs far deeper than that. There is something beautiful about being part of a group chant or song, and as the number of people attending church continues to drop, sports chants are actually one of very few examples of spontaneous group singing and of the oral folk song tradition.
Sports chants have a number of different intentions; including humor, intimidation and motivation. Some songs and chants can date back over 100 years and were sung by members of the crowds grandfathers, whilst others can start spontaneously for the oddest of reasons and become enshrined in the team or clubs tradition forever more. The tune for chants is most ordinarily a simple one which can be easily latched on to and sung by all; they are drawn from all kinds of sources, including hymns, classical music, folk songs, nursery rhymes and more recently, pop songs.
Those who have witnessed or been involved in the powerful performance of a chant will understand how special it can be, the atmosphere it can create and the genuine effect that it can have upon the field of play. The most crucial element to any chant is of course the group of fans involved, unless they are passionate and vocal, no chant will have the desired effect. These chants range from the funny and silly to the frightening and intimidating, but all are great in their own right. Here are the top 10 best sports chants:
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10 Roll Call
The Bleacher Creatures, as they have become known, are some of the most vocal and dedicated fans in baseball. Their support of the Yankees is unwavering and they are well-known for their song and chants, but none more so than the Roll Call which takes place at the beginning of every home game. The Creatures begin clapping when their starting pitcher is getting ready to throw the first pitch, followed by 'Bald' Vinny Milano telling the crowd to quieten down. Once settled, Milano shouts out the name of the center field, which the rest of the Creatures then proceed to chant until they receive some kind of recognition. Following which the Creatures move through the lineup. Following his retirement, former Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi said that the Roll Call was the thing he missed most and described it as "the best thing in baseball".
9 Tiny Cox
Since signing for Leyton Orient from Brighton in 2010, the midfielder Dean Cox has become an integral part of the Orient team, amassing more than 250 appearances for the London team. Standing at just 5-foot-4, Cox was renowned for his diminutive stature and nicknamed 'Tiny Cox'. Soon after, one group of inventive Orient supporters spotted the opportunity for a rather inventive chant. The O's fans can now be heard singing "We've got Tiny Cox" to the tune of 'Knees Up Mother Brown' on a regular basis.
Whilst the other entries on this list are sung and chanted by spectators, the Haka is performed by the New Zealand players. The various hakas, originally performed by the Maori people of New Zealand hundreds of years ago, one specific haka has become renowned around the world due to its performance by the New Zealand rugby team for over 125 years. The form of Haka that the rugby team engage in is a war cry used to intimidate the opposition whilst psyching up New Zealand's players and fans, which it does to great avail.
7 Luis Suarez Chant
Luis Suarez may be one of the most talented footballers in the world but his numerous antics have also made him one of the most intensely disliked figures in the game. Suarez is known for his cheating, diving, biting and racism due to a number of incidents which have occurred over the last five years. Inventive English football fans quickly came up with this song after Suarez was charged with racially abusing Patrice Evra, "He cheats, he dives, he hates the Jackson Five, Luis Suarez, Luis Suarez."
Another uncomplimentary chant aimed in the direction of the Uruguayan claimed "His teeth are offside," an attack at Suarez's large teeth. Suarez left Liverpool for Barcelona in the summer, and is perhaps grateful that Spanish fans haven't yet come up with similarly derogatory chants for him.
6 Can You Hear Us
Now the Anaheim Ducks coach, back when Bruce Boudreau was the Washington Capitals coach in 2011, he made the mistake of criticizing the Blueshirts' fans ahead of their clash with the New York Rangers. Boudreau commented that,"our building is a lot louder, too," adding, "so I mean, they can say what they want, but it's not that loud in there." A packed crowd inside Madison Square Garden took the opportunity to answer Boudreau's criticisms in person after the Rangers went 3-0 up. Ironically the Capitals came back to win that game but the game is best remembered for the "Can you hear us?"chants directed in Bruce Boudeau's direction.
5 Just Can't Get Enough
Celtic fans are known as some of the most vocal and intimidating in Europe, with Old Firm games and European ties at Celtic Park carrying particular notoriety. Lionel Messi once stated, "I've been fortunate to play in some great stadiums in Europe with Barcelona, but none compare to Celtic," adding "the atmosphere their fans create make it a very special night of European football."
Other figures of the game have drawn similar conclusions and the most well-known chant at Celtic Park in recent years has been the chorus of Depeche Modes song, 'Just Can't Get Enough'. Numerous other clubs have adopted the song as their own, including; Bolton, Burnley, Liverpool, Feyenoord, Brighton, Sydney, Auckland, Chicago Fire, Philadelphia Union, New York Cosmos and the Tampa Bay Rowdies, but none match the power of the Celtic fans when the Green Brigade are in full voice.
4 Norwich vs Chelsea
Norwich City owner and celebrity chef Delia Smith embarrassed herself in 2005 when she took to the field appearing intoxicated at halftime in a game between Norwich and Manchester City, shouting to the Canaries fans "Where are you? Where are you? Let's be 'avin you," in an attempt to rouse the home supporters. When Norwich faced Chelsea the following week, who'd recently been taken over by billionaire Roman Abramovich, the Chelsea supporters sang "We've got Abramovich, you've got a drunken b****".
Unrelenting in the support of their owner, who saved them from bankruptcy that same year, some quick-minded Canaries fans responded magnificently, chanting "We've got a super cook, you've got a Russian crook." Both chants were humoros and inventive, displaying all that is great about British football fans. Chelsea were Premier League champions last season whilst Norwich returned to the league, winning promotion from the Championship.
3 You Let the Whole Team Down
The student section of the Duke Blue Devils' basketball team, known as the Cameron Crazies, are well-known for their often close to the mark chants, and it was the Crazies who popularized this chant, most notably in 2011. When the Clemson Tigers took on Duke at the Cameron Indoor Stadium, the Crazies directed this chant at one unfortunate Clemson player. The Crazies pride themselves on irritating opposing players and putting them off their game, and this chant did so more than most. The camera focussed on the Clemson player who looked more than a little perturbed.
The chant has been made by other sports teams and was slightly altered by a number of English football fans who sang "You let your country down" at England goalkeeper Rob Green after his goalkeeping howler against the U.S. at the 2010 World Cup which resulted in a 1-1 draw.
2 Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
First recorded in 1909 as an American spiritual song as Wallis Willis was inspired by the Red River which reminded him of the Jordan River, the record saw a resurgence in the 1960's as it became tied to the civil rights movement and was performed by Joan Baez at the legendary 1969 Woodstock Festival. The story of how 'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot' became associated with rugby union is both intriguing and unusual.
After a terrible run of form, involving only one home win in two years at Twickenham, the England rugby team trailed 3-0 at half time to Ireland. A magnificent second half come back resulted in a 35-3 victory, and it was at this game in 1988 that the sing became the unofficial anthem of the national team. A group of schoolboys who sang the song when their school scored a try began singing it at Twickenham, and as those around them joined in, it soon began ringing around the ground. Almost 30 years later it is still sung at games and is one of the most powerful and mesmerizing chants in world sport.
1 You'll Never Walk Alone
Starting out in 1945 as a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical show tune, 'You'll Never Walk Alone' has become the most famous song in the world of football. The song has been covered by artists including Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and Pink Floyd, but it was after Liverpudlian group Gerry and the Pacemakers had a UK number one with the song that it became the official anthem of Liverpool FC. Enjoying a great period of success in the 60s, the song started to be sung before every home game, a tradition which persists to this day.
Atmospheres in English football, including Anfield, have become increasingly sanitized in recent years as the chant is not as consistently incredible as it once was, but for crucial games, derbies and European ties, it is still a special event. As well as Liverpool, numerous other football clubs have adopted the song as their own, including; Celtic, Feyenoord, FC Twente, SC Cambuur, Borussia Dortmund, Hoffenheim, Mainz, FC Kaiserslautern, Club Brugge, FC Tokyo and over 10 other clubs. The song has even crossed sports, being adopted by some ice hockey teams, most notably in Germany and Croatia.
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