Here we go again then – The world’s biggest club competition. The competition featuring the best clubs, players and managers in football. The competition where, despite Sky’s forthright effort at ploughing hundreds of thousands of pounds into it, we’ll always watch the final on ITV. It’s the same during the World Cup when everyone just watches it on BBC rather than ITV, despite Mark Lawrenson being involved. This tournament is of course, the Champions League…or for beginners, that football tournament with that theme tune.
It’s an odd descriptive point to pick up on, but sit and think – does the Premier League have a ‘theme tune’ as such? The song by the minutely popular band Moloko, and latterly Kasabian in the adverts for Super Sunday don’t cut it. There’s no triumphant fanfare, no arousal of the sense, no battle cry for you to take to the sofa armed with a beverage and unhealthy snack.
Some would argue Abide With Me is a definitive theme tune – but unfortunately that only appears during the FA Cup Final, and besides whilst ITV/Sky/ESPN have the rights to it, you’ll probably be watching an advert at the time it gets sung around Wembley Stadium. Unfortunately though, I don’t see it be sung during the Fourth Elimination Round Replay between Maidenhead United and Swindon Supermarine…grassroots, bloody hell.
Yet of course it got a mention when Tottenham took on Young Boys. It had the reassuring inevitability of a trusted friend. You didn’t even need to think about it – you know it would be there for you – you could sing along with “THE CHAMPIONNNNSSSSS” but not know any of the other funny German and French words. That’s as continental as us English get…speaking of Continental, there was even a time when the adverts defined the competition – Continental tyres, Amstel and for a time Playstation. If anything you were glad to see adverts, and then you saw Bob Wilson’s face and it was time pay attention. Adrian Chiles can’t hold a candle to him.
The teams will change – from a personal point of view; I swear Man United always used to play either Juventus or Fiorentina year after year?! Now there are teams from as far a field as you could ever remember – Bursaspor, Braga MSK Zilina, FC Twente – all qualifying for their first ever Champions League Group Stage this time around.
But the song remains.
But the majority of us armchair pundits don’t actually know the name of the song. It’s some classical music – it’s either complicated to say, actually 20 minutes long, or a song that in our right mind we’d never even considered purchasing. Yet I can confirm to you it is an adaptation of Handel’s “Zadok the Priest” – surely most of us have heard of Handel, right? Even if we can’t name his ‘greatest hits’…you’ve heard of him, haven’t you?
Anyhow, it’s available on iTunes…go on, make the Radio 1 Chart Show have to play it. Make the Big Top 40 say it’s a new entry into the chart…and then let Classic FM say they’ve been playing it for years.
And then Handel will sell out, and inevitably the people that make decisions – who often drink Costa coffee in the morning for no real reason other than a status symbol – will change the song and a new theme tune will be christened. Unfortunately, that song will be something modern. An X-Factor finalist will put their name into the hat and things will become as shambolic as qualification for the Eurovision Song Contest.
On that basis, don’t buy it, just listen to it in 20 second intervals during adverts before the start of the match…I dare you…