286. ‘Back Home’, by The England World Cup Squad ’70

On paper, I should love this next #1. It combines my two great passions-since-childhood: the pop charts and the World Cup. Except… Music isn’t something you enjoy on paper. It has to go in between your ears. Which is where the problems start with this song.

England-World-Cup-Squad-on-TOTP-in-1970

Back Home, by The England World Cup Squad ‘70 (their 1st and only #1)

3 weeks, from 10th – 31st May 1970

First, some history. England had hosted and won their first, and so far only, football World Cup in 1966, beating West Germany 4-2 in the final. Four years on they were off to Mexico to defend their title. This record, then, was an au revoir to the fans. And it gets going with hand claps and that beat that goes with any sporting occasion – you know: da da dadada dadadada da da. Does it even have a name? Then it’s a marching band and some rousing lyrics.

Back home, They’ll be thinking about us, When we are far away… Back home, They’ll be really behind us, In every game we play… The players put their all into it, singing it like they’re down the pub, rolling out the barrel. We’ll give all we’ve got to give, For the folks… back… home… Interestingly, there’s no explicit mention of them winning the cup, which I suppose is quite modest and sensible.

I have to admit that I’m not a neutral party here. I’m Scottish. Scotland have a fairly terrible football team, and have done for a long time. They last qualified for a major tournament when I was twelve. So for me and most of my fellow countrymen and women – and I’m not proud to admit this but here we are – much of our enjoyment during a World Cup comes from England getting beaten. I hold my hands up. I am biased when it comes to this record.

Then again, even the most ardent England fan would struggle to argue that ‘Back Home’ has much merit beyond nostalgia for a time when they were the world champions. Midway through we get a trumpet solo and some piped-in crowd noises. I half expect Kenneth Wolstenholme’s ‘They think it’s all over…’ commentary, but no.

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It reminds me of a song from the trenches (unfortunately not the last time that the English will equate football with the World Wars.) There’s the simple music hall melody for a start. And the lyrics are all about the folks ‘back home’, as if the team is homesick before they’ve even left, as if they’re missing their sweethearts, as if they don’t really want to go…

And with good reason, perhaps. Their campaign in Mexico was fairly disastrous. Captain Bobby Moore was falsely arrested for stealing a bracelet, keeper Gordon Banks was knocked out by food poisoning (some have since suggested foul-play) and West Germany exacted their revenge by beating them 3-2 in the quarter-finals. Brazil went on to win an iconic final against Italy – Pele, Carlos Alberto and all that.

I accept that there would have been a lot of hype surrounding the defence of their title – they released this record a full two months before the World Cup started – and that this song is fairly inoffensive in the grand scheme of things. At least it’s short, wrapped up in exactly two minutes. But I’d happily never listen to it again. The players clearly enjoyed their experience in the recording studio though, as they went and made a whole album! Ever wondered what ‘Congratulations’, ‘Lily the Pink’ and ‘Sugar Sugar’ sound like when sung by footballers? Wonder no more – the whole album’s on Spotify.

If anybody out there actually enjoyed this latest chart-topper – and who am I to judge? – then you’ll be happy to hear that this is the first of four World Cup themed #1s (plus a European Championship themed #1 for good measure.) They will all be about England – boo! But most of them will be better than ‘Back Home’ – yay! And, just to show that I may be biased but not that biased, here’s a link to the Scotland World Cup Squad’s highest charting single: ‘We Have a Dream’, which reached #5 in 1982. (Spoiler Alert: It’s just as bad, if not worse, than ‘Back Home’.)

18 thoughts on “286. ‘Back Home’, by The England World Cup Squad ’70

  1. 😆 Great write-up!

    Bad news. The video won’t play. I’m used to them not playing on the WP app but, when I go to a browser, it still won’t play. Says it’s not available…

    Going to my laptop…

  2. I heard it but, I had to get it from another channel. This is what the channel looks like where your video came from:

    There’s nothing there. Even though it doesn’t say it, I suspect this is a UK channel and we don’t have access because of regional issues.

    It’s catchy with the typical marching band feel, coupled with a touch of Irish drinking songs. LOL!

    I had to laugh at the “we hope England loses” part. That also makes me wonder about “Stewart”… Is that your first name or family name (now that I know you are a Scotsman). Though I am a Jones, my paternal-maternal line is MacPherson. There are a LOT of Scots in NC. One of these days, I may do a piece on Ayr Mount:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ayr_Mount
    Went to a small Scottish Festival there.

    1. Thanks for pointing that out. Seems I’d linked to a channel rather than a video… Sorted now. Though I’m not sure you need to hear it again!

      Stewart’s my first name, which is quite an unusual spelling for the first name – most people go with ‘Stuart’, which I think is a French way of spelling it.

      Yes, a lot of us went to America. A lot of us went… everywhere to be honest. ‘Jones’ is more of a Welsh name, though, right?

      1. Jones is very Welsh, yes.

        I should have said paternal-maternal-maternal line is MacPherson..my great-grandmother’s maiden name. Her youngest daughter, my grandmother, was born a Capes, which showed up in England after the Norman Conquest…technically making that French, I suppose.

        The other side is Griswold (no National Lampoon jokes), my mother’s maiden name (English or Saxon) and Oakley, my maternal grandmother’s maiden name (English or Saxon). Then, there is a zig-zag with her mother…Rudd, which, apparently, has Danish origins.

        To muddy the waters further, on my maternal side, there is a Native American ancestor…somewhere.

        Everything you ever wanted to know but, was afraid to ask. LOL! We’re all mutts over here…

      2. Yes, I’ve always found people from the US are much more interested in where they came from… I guess it’s because the vast majority emigrated there in the last couple of hundred years… For Brits, most of us just think we’re British. Or Scottish. I might be a bit Irish, but I’m not sure…

      3. Hmm.. good question. Picts were north east, the Gaels were north-west, then the Angles came up from the south. Then there were the Vikings… We’re all mutts too, we’ve just had longer to forget!

  3. Not the greatest chart-topper ever 🙂 Not the greatest football record ever (speaking as someone who is not bovvered about football, that’s clearly Three Lions) and not even the best football song of the early 70’s (that’s Blue Is The Colour, the Chelsea anthem) and yet it’s not quite as bad as most of ’em 🙂

    Try the Scottish 1974 footie hit Easy Easy and suddenly this doesn’t quite seem so bad 🙂 The lyrics….ouch!

    1. Yes, I’d say Three Lions, then World in Motion, then a huge chasm of a drop to the rest…

      Just listened to ‘Easy Easy’ and it’s bad, but I do quite like the glam-rock stomp it has. In Scotland ‘Ally’s Tartan Army’ from ’78 is probably best remembered in terms of World Cup songs. They genuinely thought they could win it……..

  4. Regarding Back home, you may not like I have a dream either and I’m guessing your opinion of Easy Easy might be the same as mine (which is not too far removed from Ally’s Tartan Army). What do you think of Ole Ola by Rod Stewart, its not officially Scottish but based on the names mentioned in the lyrics, you had a good team at that world cup (1978), not that you did any better than usual. And that was a good song too. If you don’t know these songs give them a listen, but I’m guessing you do, as you’re a bit of an expert, as you have to be to write a blog like this

    1. Not an expert, no, at least not on football songs… I just heard ‘Easy Easy’ for the first time, and can’t say I was blown away. ‘Ola Ola’ was better, quite catchy…

      The 1978 tournament was huge for Scotland, as the only British team to qualify – I think there were two top 10 singles! – and it was a glorious disaster that people still talk about fondly today. I wasn’t alive, but it seems like people genuinely thought we could win it…

  5. badfinger20

    I’m Scottish I think…at least that is what my grandmother told me…It sounds better than I thought it would. I thought it would be a lot of guys singing in a bar or something…it sounded modern for that time. I’m a baseball fan so I’m lost in that sport.

    I would not have thought number 1 but I know there are some serious fans.

    1. You can’t be that Scottish if you enjoyed this…!(joking, joking) They were defending world champions, I suppose. They still go on about 1966 even now, so in 1970 it was still very recent and a big thing…

      I like it in the sense that sometimes the charts isn’t about the best songs, but about marking significant cultural events too.

      1. badfinger20

        LOL… I agree with you…it’s the timing of when it comes out that matters. Sometimes the stars align just right.

        Dang 1966 I wasn’t even born…it must be big for them lol.

  6. Pingback: Recap: #271 – #300 – The UK Number Ones Blog

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