Walking the streets of midtown Manhattan yesterday, I was treated to the sight of a New York Rangers bus, decked out in blue and white, and packed with fans chanting “Let’s go Ran-gers [tap, tap, tap tap tap]“. The Rangers are in the semi-finals of the Playoffs (the final contest of the NHL) against the New Jersey Devils, and their fans, already famous for their insobriety, are making the most of it.
I’m not much of an Ice Hockey fan any more (I was a big Cardiff Devils fan as a kid), but the noise brought a smile to my face as I remembered games at Yankee Stadium with the infamous chant of “Let’s go Yan-kees [tap, tap, tap tap tap]“. And who could forget the victory parade when the Giants won the Super Bowl this year, the streets lined with loyal fans shouting themselves hoarse with “Let’s go Gi-ants [tap, tap, tap tap tap]“.
An over-eager analyst might conclude that New Yorkers, whilst by no means bereft of sporting enthusiasm, perhaps lacked creativity in their expression of that. However, this past weekend spent in close proximity to Fenway Park in Boston gave me ample opportunity to hear their historic battle cry, “Let’s go Red Sox [tap, tap, tap tap tap]”
Presuming one maintains a degree of respect for the English language, of the 90 teams in the NFL, NHL and MLB together, 69% have (arguably) bisyllabic names (NFL 23/30, NHL 17/30, MLB 22/30), I allowed the Detroit Li-ons, for example, but couldn’t bring myself to include the Chicago Be-ars. I set about finding game footage of a random sample of 15 of these teams to discover their chants, every single one I looked up use this chant. Variants exist, such as the call & response “Let’s go Li-ons…Let’s go De-troit”, and the cerebral “Let’s go Ra-vens, let’s go”, but the creativity doesn’t reach much beyond that.
Now, rygbi fans, of which I am proud to count myself one, generally have an arsenal of singing material with which to enliven any game. The battle to drown out ‘Swing Low Sweet Chariot’ with the dulcet tones of valleys men singing ‘Bread Of Heaven’ can be more intense than the action on the field at a Wales vs. England match; and that’s hardly an affair renowned for its amicability.
As an American who watches rugby occasionally, it sends chills down my spine listening to the crowd here. After 76:00 (1m30s into the clip) Cwm Rhondda / Bread of Heaven starts to roar.
Even football (soccer) fans, not generally regarded as the brightest of folks, seem to manage a wonderful degree of creativity in their support. Club and country standards apart, topical songs are the norm and can seemingly be composed and subsequently voiced by tens of thousands of fans during the course of a game. Canadian soccer fans recently got in on the action too, taunting David Beckham with his wife’s philosophical masterpiece ‘If You Wanna Be My Lover (Zig-A-Zig-Ah)’ when LA Galaxy played away to Montreal Impact last week. One of my favourite in-game compositions is below.
After Djimi Traoré scores an own goal, to the tune of Blame it on the Boogie:
Don’t blame it on the Biscan, don’t blame it on the Hamann, don’t blame it on the Finnan, blame it on Traoré. He just can’t, he just can’t, he just can’t control his feet
Just can’t beat that.