“Oh, me name is McNamara, I’m the leader of the band…”
While you ‘la, la, la ’ along to this happy Irish themed tune. It was traditionally played for years just as the team reached the top of the stairs and came into the supporters view. This was in the days before teams had to walk out together and shake hands and pretend to be friends. The home team would appear first and then with the crowd revved up to full volume the visitors would enter the hostile arena. The excellent timing of the entrance was managed by a button being pushed as the team left the dressing room and this rang a bell in the announcers room.
The fact that the tune was written in Barnet, North London would of made it popular with local bands and well known to the supporters. Some people like to claim it was adopted by Tottenham because of the legendarily captain Danny Blanchflower. Our relationship with the tune clearly pre-dates that. Noted Tottenham historian Bob Goodwin thinks that it dates from 1947. The Enfield Town Band who provided the pre-match entertainment and being a local tune would of no doubt have included it at various times. The tune had become one of the songs that was sung by the players when traveling to away games. The directors asked the band to play it as the teams emerged recognizing it lifted the crowd.
The original lyrics tell the true story of an Irish band and McNamara who died in the First World War. The song first appeared in the film “The way to the stars” in 1945. Later that year it was recorded with changed lyrics by Bing Crosby who had a major hit with it. The lyrics have changed a number of times over the years to suit the singer. There has been several attempts to add Tottenham lyrics to the tune over the years and none were ever that successful. You do however have to enjoy lines like “The whistle blows, the cockerel crows” or “Of all the teams the famous Tottenham is the greatest of them all.” Having been played pre-match at White Hart Lane for many years it is now played at half -time.
--- The top image is the Tottenham Royal Dance Hall on the day of the Double celebration parade. On the balcony you can see the resident band playing to the crowds.
Glory Glory Hallelujah
The first club to be associated with this song was in fact Hibernian in Scotland in the late 1950’s. Scottish football was much stronger then and Hibs reached the semi-final of the European Cup. Tottenham were the first English team to use the song and have made it their own.
Whilst usually associated with the European Nights. We know from first hand testimony that it certainly was sung before that. The first time we can be sure of was April 1960. Tottenham won 3-1 at Wolverhampton and that stopped them winning the Double which we claimed the following season.
The version sung by the crowd for many years was 'Glory Glory Hallelujah'. Some years later ‘some people’ started to sing' Glory Glory Tottenham Hotspur.' The band ‘Chas N Dave’ have been wrongly blamed for this. The change more likely dates from the late 1960’s when Leeds United recorded a version of the song and inserted their own name. This led to some singing Tottenham Hotspur instead of Hallelujah
Another attempt to steal the song came in 1983 when the second best team in Manchester decided to record it. This rather backfired on them as opponents the length of the country would sing it as well but change the lyrics to ‘Who the f*** are Man United.’ As that club has little decently they continue to play it to this day.
Sang to the tune 'John Brown’s Body', which predates the words by several years, the words of the 'Battle Hymn of the Republic' were written in 1861 and relate to the wicked and the arrival of Judgment Day. These words were changed by fans from "His truth goes marching on." to Spurs go...
The original version has been sung over the years by countless singers, including Elvis. It also features regularly in movies.
Incidentally the phase ‘The Spurs go marching on’ can be traced back to Christmas 1950 and a cartoon in the club programme of Arthur Rowe dreaming of winning the Double trophies. It is also the title of Ralph Finn’s book of the 1963 Cup Winners Cup season.
Next time - Its back to the pitch and a game many watching described as the best Spurs ever played.
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