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Football fans, particularly British ones, are renowned for their football chants that they sing during games. More often than not, they are humourous put-downs of the opposition team or fans.

But now it has been revealed that the person who invented the football chant is someone who you may not have expected to do so - English composer Sir Edward Elgar.

Elgar, who composed the patriotic hymn Land of Hope and Glory, wrote "He Banged The Leather for Goal" over 100 years ago for his beloved Wolverhampton Wanderers (nicknamed Wolves).

In 1898, Elgar was at Wolves' ground, Molineux, to watch their match against Stoke City. Both are amongst the founding teams of the English Football League.

Elgar was inspired by rugged striker Billy Malpass who was celebrated in newspaper headlines the next day.

The reports told of the way he “Banged The Leather for Goal” and Elgar was so taken by it that he put the lyric to a short piece of piano music.

No one knows whether the tune was ever played during his lifetime but yesterday it got its first-ever known public performance at a charity concert in Wolverhampton.

The choirs of St Peter’s Collegiate Church, under the baton of Wolverhampton Symphony Orchestra conductor Peter Morris, belted out the chant at a concert to raise money for the church’s organ restoration fund.

Wolves were founded in 1877 and were originally known as St Luke's. They are currently in the Premier League, England's top division, and were today defeated 2-1 by locals West Midlands rivals Aston Villa.

Sir Edward Elgar wrote football chant along with his classical music


By Richard Alleyne
26 Sep 2010
The Telegraph



His songs are usually belted out from the plush red seats of the Royal Albert Hall, rather than the football terraces.

But it has emerged that Sir Edward Elgar, the composer of Land of Hope and Glory, penned the world's first football chant.

Titled "He Banged The Leather for Goal", the theme was written more than 100 years ago in honour of his beloved Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Elgar fell in love with football in February 1898, when he was in the crowd at Molineux for a game between Wolves and Stoke City, two of the founder members of the Football League.

He was inspired by rugged striker Billy Malpass who was celebrated in newspaper headlines the next day.

The reports told of the way he “Banged The Leather for Goal” and Elgar was so taken by it that he put the lyric to a short piece of piano music.



There are 12 teams who are the founder members of the English Football League. They are Accrington Stanley, Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Burnley, Derby County, Everton, Notts County, Preston North End, Stoke F.C. (renamed Stoke City in 1928 ), West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers. The first season of the Football League began on 12th September 1888. Each club played the other twice, once at home and once away, and two points were awarded for a win and one for a draw. This points system was not agreed upon until after the season had started; the alternative proposal was one point for a win only. Preston North End have the honour of being the first team to be crowned English champions. They won the 1888/89 first league title without losing a game, and completed the first league-cup double by also taking the FA Cup that season - they beat Wolves 3-0 in the Final.

No one knows whether the tune was ever played during his lifetime but yesterday it got its first-ever known public performance at a charity concert in the city.

The choirs of St Peter’s Collegiate Church, under the baton of Wolverhampton Symphony Orchestra conductor Peter Morris, belted out the chant at a concert to raise money for the church’s organ restoration fund.

To add more nostalgia, the opera singer Rita Cullis – niece of the club’s "Iron Manager" Stan Cullis – was the featured soloist.


Wolves in action today against local rivals Aston Villa. Wolves lost 2-1.

Elgar became a Wolves fan through his friendship with Dora Penny, daughter of the Rector of St Peter’s Church in the late 19th century.

The Pomp And Circumstance composer would cycle from Malvern to Wolverhampton to accompany her to Molineux, and immortalised the Midland lass with the tune Dorabella, from his famous Enigma Variations in 1899.

Former England women’s cricket captain Rachel Heyhoe-Flint – now a director at Wolverhampton Wanderers – helped to organise the concert.

“Over the years we have learned more and more about Elgar’s association with the club, and we’re very proud to have counted him as a supporter,” she explained.

“This was the first live rendition of He Banged The Leather For Goal.

‘‘The song was discovered by Dr Percy Young, who was the club historian back in the 1940s and 1950s, and was an expert on Elgar.

“Personally I’m delighted about this, I’ve been a Wolves fan since I visited Molineux in nappies back in the 50s, so I’m very happy that we’re celebrating our heritage in this way.”

While modern football fans are often associated with loutish behaviour and drunken singing, academics say that terrace songs are an important part of our history.

Professor Steven Mithen, author of The Singing Neanderthals: The Origins of Music, Language, Mind and Body, said: “Football chants are a very sophisticated activity.

"They come from a point in our evolutionary past before language, when we used music and chanting and dance to bond as social groups.”

The Wolverhampton Wanderers FC historian Graham Hughes said Elgar “loved coming” to the area.

“He used to watch the crowd going down to the match,” he said.

“Then one Saturday he said he’d like to go down to the match, so he went and that’s how it started.”

Here are ten amusing chants sung by English footie fans over the years:

1. West Ham fans at Goodison Park – “We’ve got Di Canio! / You’ve got our stereos!” (To the tune of Verdi's Rigoletto)

2. About Bobby Zamora – “When the ball hits your head while you sit in row Z / That’s Zamora!” (To the tune of That’s Amore)

3. Brighton fans - “We’ve got tiny Cox! We’ve got tiny Cox!” (Sung when 5 foot 4 inch Dean Cox scores)

4. Arsenal fans about Petit – “He’s blond / He’s quick / His name’s a porno flick / Emmanuelle! Emmanuelle!”

5. About Terry Phelan – “We’ve got that Terry Phelan / Woah, that Terry Phelan” (To the tune of You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling…before some wag chimes in with “Once more, with Phelan!”)

6. About Tim Howard – “Tim Timminy Tim Timminy Tim Tim Teroo / We've got Tim Howard and he says f**k you!” (To the tune of Chim Chimney from Mary Poppins)

7. Middlesbrough fans to Joseph Desire-Job - One Job on Teesside! There’s only one Job on Tesside! (For those unaware, the area is rife with unemployment. Get it?)

8. About Eric Cantona - He's French, he's flash / he's shagging Leslie Ash / Cantona! Cantona!

9. Exchange between Norwich and Chelsea fans – Norwich: “You've got a Russian crook, we've got a super cook” Chelsea: “We've got Abramovich, you've got a crazy b***h”

10. Newcastle fans for Habib Beye – “Sunday, Monday, Habib Beye! Tuesday, Wednesday, Habib Beye! Thursday, Friday, Habib Beye! Saturday, Habib Beye, rocking all week with you!” (To the tune of the Happy Days theme)

telegraph.co.uk
Last edited by Blackleaf; Sep 26th, 2010 at 02:08 PM..