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:
10 Roll Call
9 Tiny Cox
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."
6 Can You Hear Us
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."
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****".
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.
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.
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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