By Steve Hill
Footballers and music have rarely proven the most natural of bedfellows.
Think of Kevin Keegan crooning ‘Head Over Heels In Love’ from beneath a risible bubble perm. Think of Glenn & Chris being too po-faced to call themselves Hoddle & Waddle when delivering the execrable ‘Diamond Lights’ to an indifferent hit parade.
Think of the vast majority of tortuous World Cup or FA Cup final records. An absolute disgrace.
Furthermore, when it comes to their listening choices, our twinkle-toed heroes aren’t generally considered arbiters of good taste, give or take Pat Nevin.
As such, when the powers-that-be at Chester FC decided to hand over the match day playlist to a rotating cast of squad members, the worst was expected.
To be fair, it’s been a mixed bag, although I don’t generally get in until five minutes before kick-off, so have largely been spared the cavalcade of auto-tuned atrocities.
However, for last week’s crucial Tuesday night clash against Stockport, the huge honour of selecting the music fell to my good self, people’s champion and self-appointed voice of the fans.
Following much introspection, I decided to take a very literal approach, essentially compiling a concept album on the loneliness of the long-distance football supporter, with a bit of northwest bias, the natural home of football and music.
The details were released on social media ahead of the game, and it was widely hailed as the ‘greatest playlist ever selected’ in the short history of the format. There was, however, one notable exception – joint manager Anthony Johnson, who dismissed it as “rubbish”.
Indeed, prior to kick-off, he even had the nerve to interrupt my pre-match corporate feed to deliver a blunt two-word message: “Bad music.”
Sadly, this was the least of his problems as Chester succumbed to a staggering 6-0 defeat, much of which I spent consoling my son, who spent the second half in tears.
It’s the kind of result that leaves you mentally scarred for days, and I have begun to wonder if it was somehow my fault; if perhaps my choice of tunes could have been more inspirational? Let’s pick the bones out of it.
Kicking off with the obvious The Story Of The Blues, I’ve not done much wrong here, an upbeat anthem that sets out my stall early doors.
Then we’re into Wrote For Luck, a clumsy early attempt to plug my book, but a banger nevertheless.
The journey really starts with London Calling “to the faraway towns, now war is declared and battle come down”. I am then quite literally Driving Away From Home on The English Motorway System, which “can be quite hypnotising, you achieve a Zen-like state, as if someone else is driving”.
Finally, we Hit The North, desperate for a pint, as commemorated by CAMRA Man: “Anything under five per cent, I don’t want to drink it.” Either that, or it’s a childish attempt to wind-up the hardline real alers who plague my every move.
This segues into Born Slippy, with its rousing chorus of “Lager Lager Lager” which accurately describes my pre-match routine.
As regularly played at the old ground, the fervent build-up is then captured by local lad Russ Abbot’s Atmosphere: “I love a party with a happy atmosphere. Music everywhere, and soon we’ll be dancing in the cool night air…”
I’m now getting nervous and need to display True Faith, which inadvertently captures my relationship with the club: “You took my time and you took my money.”
Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want: three points. Bring On The Dancing Horses: to be honest, if they were horses the green tarpaulin would have been erected at half-time. Heroes: “Oh, we can beat them.” If only.
That’s Entertainment: well it certainly was for the Stockport fans, accompanied by “a police car and a screaming siren”. For the Chester faithful, it was “lights going out and a kick in the balls.”
Waving Flags was supposed to mark an epic home win, but sadly the only flags being waved were in the County end.
And finally, Paperback Writer was a final reminder for the home support to drop by the club shop and pick up a signed copy of my book. Unfortunately, there was nobody left to hear it.
Longlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year, The Card: Every Match, Every Mile by Steve Hill is published by Ockley Books