World of Sport

‘Score more ways than Luis Boa Morte’: 11 random sports references in popular music

World of Sport

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With Yahoo! sponsoring this weekend's Wireless festival, we thought we’d find some of the more obscure sports references in contemporary music.

We have deliberately excluded the obvious, such as Simon and Garfunkel’s Joe DiMaggio namedrop, and 10CC’s cricket anthem ‘Dreadlock Holiday’.

So that means there is no room for football songs (sorry New Order fans), or references to American sports in American hip-hop, because everyone does it, all the time.

However, there are plenty of unusual namedrops, both in terms of those references or the type of artist concerned.

If you have any other sports in music tips, feel free to post them below!

1. Matthew Maynard (cricket) – Manic Street Preachers: Mr Carbohydrate

(Warning - contains swearing)

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Outside the cricket community, Matthew Maynard will sadly be remembered for being the father of tragic former Surrey cricketer Tom Maynard, who died last year.

But he was a fine batsman and wicketkeeper in his day, playing in four Test matches for England between 1988 and 1994. Arguably he would have won more caps but for a three-year international ban after joining Mike Gatting’s rebel tour of South Africa.

Maynard, born in England but brought up in Wales, was deemed worthy of mention in Manic Street Preachers b-side Mr Carbohydrate, which appeared alongside 1996 hit single ‘Design For Life’ (you know, the one that lads without heavy eyeliner bought).

Lyrics:

Have you heard of Matthew Maynard, he's my favourite cricketer

I would rather watch him play than pick up my guitar, than play with my guitar

Randomness rating: 8/10

2. Tour de France (cycling) – Kraftwerk: Tour de France

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Legendary German electro ensemble Kraftwerk are huge cycling fans. They revealed their love of the sport through song, with seminal 1982 hit single Tour de France a clear ode to cycling’s most famous race.

The track spawned several remixes and reworkings – or ‘Etapes’ as they were cutely named – including the 2003 concept album of the same name. Originally intended to coincide with the race’s centenary, it came out a couple of months late.

Original versions were penned both in German and French (appropriately), but below is a translation into English.

Lyrical excerpt:

The hell of north Paris-Roubaix, the Cote d'Azur and Saint Tropez

The Alps and the Pyrennees, last stage Champs-Elysees...

Randomness rating: 6/10

3. Muhammad Ali (boxing) – The Hours: Ali in the Jungle

(Warning - contains swearing)

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This one is a touch random in the sense that one would not expect a British indie rock band to name a song after the legendary American boxer.

While not strictly speaking about Ali, who is used as one of several similes for facing down adversity, the chorus does specifically reference the noble art.

It didn’t quite make the top 100, but the album Narcissus Road charted, and the band have enough of a cult following to justify inclusion.

Lyrics:

Like Ali in the jungle, like Nelson in jail

Like Simpson on the mountain, With odds like that, they were bound to fail

Everybody gets knocked down, Everybody gets knocked down

How quick are you gonna' get up? How quick are you gonna' get up?

Randomness rating: 6/10

4. Roy Keane (football) – Morrissey: Roy’s Keen

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One of music’s more effete figures, Manchester United fan Moz is prone to romantic references to sports, particularly football and boxing. He even has a ditty named ‘Munich Air Disaster 1958’. Cheery.

Roy’s Keen makes the cut because it was an embarrassingly poor pun in reference to United midfielder Keane, and it was a bit of a dud tune to boot.

Even more strangely, it isn’t really about Roy Keane, but an amorous window cleaner of the same name. Later, it transpired that Moz was related to another Irish footballer named Keane – Robbie, whose dad is his great uncle, or something.

Lyrics:

The ladder’s a planet, Roy is a star band I am a satellite

I will be set alight, Roy’s keen, Roy’s keen

We’ve never seen a keener window cleaner, oh!

Randomness rating: 6/10

5. John Terry (football) – Rizzle Kicks: Lost Generation

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It was always going to be a matter of time, but UK rappers Rizzle Kicks have courted a bit of controversy by name-checking Chelsea captain John Terry in their new single.

Unsurprisingly, it is a reference to his race-row with Anton Ferdinand, or rather to his “black friends”. By which we assume he means Ashley Cole.

No doubt you've already heard and grown to love this seminal track by one of the greatest musical acts of the last 100 years. But if, by any small chance, you've not yet had the pleasure of repeatedly listening to this magic-tinged track for the ages, Terry’s pals are cited as an example of extreme confusion.

Lyrics:

When I heard people buy (youtube) views

I was more confused than all John Terry’s black friends

Watch your mouth son!

Randomness rating: 5/10

6. Red Star Belgrade (football) – Billy Bragg: Sexuality

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The bard of Barking had one of his biggest hits with this 1991 ode to sexual diversity, which boasted enough of his legendary rhyming couplets to put Carter USM to shame.

One of the most amusing was “I had an uncle who once played, for Red Star Belgrade”, which was particularly amusing given it apparently had no context or reference to the song’s theme.

Lyrics:

I had an uncle who once played for Red Star Belgrade

He said some things are really left best unspoken, but I prefer it all to be out in the open

Randomness rating: 7/10

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7. Bert Millichip and Jimmy Hill (football) – The Fall: Kicker Conspiracy

(Warning - contains swearing)

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Chain-smoking booze-hound Mark E Smith rambles about all and sundry in his vocals, which are effectively spoken word with the occasional chorus.

In this 1983 single, he goes on a profane rant about Jimmy Hill, former FA chairman Bert Millichip, George Best’s drinking, the European Commission and an apparently fictional sports reporter named Pat McGatt.

All while screaming “HOT DOGS AND SEAT FOR MR HOGG!! AAAAND HIS GROTTYSPAWN”, repeatedly.

As with much early Fall, it is nearly unlistenable, but hilarious.

Lyrics: Look them up

Randomness rating: 10/10

8. Bayern Munich (football) – Die Toten Hosen: Bayern

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Germany’s Toten Hosen (translation: Dead Trousers, meaning ‘boring’ or ‘pointless’) are the most famous stadium rock band you’ve never hold of. With the exception of a mid-career British punk tribute album, they sing in German, wear leather pants, and regularly promote left-wing causes.

So you may find it strange that such a group would pen a tribute to the dominant Bavarians – which is fine, because this is precisely the opposite.

Hardcore Fortuna Dusseldorf fans, they roar “no matter how tough my life was, I would never go to the Bayern Munich”.

Uli Hoeness, who is namechecked in the song, described it as “the kind of filth that will ruin society”. With comments like that, it’s hard not to sympathise with DTH…

Lyrical excerpt (translated from German):

If Uli Hoeness came knocking, I would not open the door

Because for me it's out of question, to spoil my character

With people like Bavarians - I would never play for Bayern!

Randomness rating: 5/10

9. Luis Boa Morte (football) – Craig David: Rendezvous (remix)

“Re-e-wind, when the crowd says bo, selecta!“ is widely regarded as the finest moment in UK R’n’B star David’s career, but the Eurosport office disagrees.

No, the strong-chinned crooner's finest moment was a cheeky reference to former Arsenal and Fulham winger Boa Morte in a remix of 2001 hit single ‘Rendezvous’.

The context is as hilarious as the content, as – clearly not talking about his prowess on the football pitch – DJ Blacksmith threatens to “score more ways than Luis Boa Morte”, rhyming it with “sauté” and “forte” in the process. Boing!

The duo are pictured at the top of the article, in their 2001 heyday.

Lyric:

She said ‘can you cook?’ - I took her hand and said ‘Tanya, look

‘I can sauté but foreplay’s my forte’ - Gonna score more ways than Luis Boa Morte

Randomness rating: 8/10

10. Shakhtar Donetsk (football) – Joe Strummer: Shakhtar Donetsk

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The former Clash frontman’s ode to a Macedonian migrant worker is exceptionally strange.

Promised a better life, the fellow arrives in the UK in the back of a lorry wearing a Shakhtar Donetsk scarf given to him by his father, himself an immigrant from the Ukraine. What’s worse is that he ends up living in Shadwell.

Anyway, the track itself is pretty tiresome, but the context is about as random as you can get.

Lyrics:

He had the wooly scarf of Shaktar Donetsk, nay, the banner of freedom wrung around his neck

Inherited from his father, one of the Ukraine exiles of Yugoslavia

Randomness rating: 8/10

11. Dukla Prague (football) – Half Man Half Biscuit: All I Want for Christmas is a Dukla Prague Away Kit

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Now-defunct Czechoslovakian football team Dukla Prague were still a going concern when scouse surrealists Half Man Half Biscuit released the ACD album which contained this seminal track.

They were the dominant force in Czechoslovakian football in the 1960s, but fell away before folding in 1995.

There is a team by the same name in the Czech top flight, but they are unconnected, having taken the moniker in 2001.

The song is about playing with a ‘rich’ kid from school who has a train set and Subutteo set complete with a team wearing the Dukla Prague away kit. Oh, the envy.

Lyrics:

So he sent his doting mother up the stairs with the stepladder to get the Subutteo out of the loft

It had all the accessories required for that big-match atmosphere, the crowd and the dugout, and the floodlights too

And you'd always get palmed off with a headless centre-forward, and a goal-keeper with no arms - and a face like his.

And he'd managed to get hold of a Dukla-Prague Away Kit

Randomness rating: 10/10

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Special mention should also go to Ash and the Super Furry Animals, whose Kung Fu and Man Don’t Give a F*** singles had artwork containing famous shots of footballers Eric Cantona and Robin Friday respectively. Also, fellow indie rockers Wedding Present released an album called “George Best”, despite the former Manchester United footballer not being a theme of any of its songs.

As we said, drop any brighter ideas below!

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