Football without fans is nothing. Every new season brings a sense of optimism for fans, with or without a legitimate foundation for that hope. Success is simply relative to the size, resources and competition facing the club. A ‘big club’ can keep that name without success, in the most subjective of terms, such as Liverpool‘s failure to win a domestic league title in the Premier League era or Arsenal‘s failure in the Champion’s League. However, without the supporter base, or the ’12th man’, the intangible elements that make certain football clubs unique would cease to exist. Here we are going to look at one of the biggest contributors to the aura that a crowd can create in a football game: chants. I’ve tried to base this list on factors such as originality, notoriety, humour, passion and how often the chant has been used and altered by other clubs.
10. BOCA JUNIORS – THE FEELING IS THE SAME
“The stadium is empty when they (River Plate) are not champions…we sing happy and proud, even if we are not champions the feeling is the same…”
Boca Juniors fans set an example for football fans worldwide with this chant; your team can’t always win and that shouldn’t change a thing. Perhaps it’s a little easier to be so optimistic when your team has never been relegated from the domestic top flight in its entire history. This chant is focused on their fierce rivals River Plate and refers to their fans as ‘the Hens’ and ‘the saddest in Argentina’.
9. LEGIA WARSAW – WARSAW DAY
“It’s my city, the most beautiful world, the most beautiful day…”
With lyrics looking more like a Charles Bukowski poem than anything football fans would chant, ‘Warsaw Day’ is one of the more peaceful chants in world football. There’s no mention of anyone having to die if they don’t support a team, nobody’s mother is insulted and no one appears to be crazy.
8. LIVERPOOL – STEVE GERRARD, GERRARD
The significance of Steven Gerrard to Liverpool required his own song and this one’s well known to fans in England and around the world. It’s unfortunate that a player of such quality devoted seventeen years of service to a club, despite interest from other major European sides, to never win the domestic competition. Such was Gerrard’s loyalty to his boyhood club, where ultimately he was rewarded with success in the Champions League, UEFA Cup, FA Cup and League Cup. One rival club in particular has a quiet infatuation with Gerrard, proven by their multiple renditions of this chant, and that is Chelsea. Gerrard’s transfer request of 2005 created the material for the first, then the infamous slip at the tail end of 2013/14 created another which is heard around Stamford Bridge when Liverpool visit. Nonetheless, he is a certified Liverpool legend who will no doubt return to Merseyside in one capacity or another, and you can be certain to hear this chant when he’s there.
7. GALATASARAY SK – DESERVE TO DIE!
“You will be champions. People who do not like you deserve to die! Die!”
What did I just say before about people having to die if they don’t follow the correct side? Football’s just a game, yeah? Well not according to some fans from Galatasaray if this chant is anything to go by. It starts off like any other chant, mentioning fans going crazy for their team, winning championships, then suddenly taking a drastic turn for dramatic effect. The chant fits the atmosphere’s often seen in Turkish football, intimidating for any side regardless of ability or experience.
6. ARIS THESSALONIKI – POUSTARADES
The less I say about this one, the better. I’ll leave this one for you to simply sit back and enjoy. This is Greece’s football mad culture at its best, fans having no part of politically correct language or respect when chanting about their rivals. With street corners and buildings all over the country covered in spray paint of the initials of their towns team, this chant captures the essence of match day feelings.
5. RED STAR BELGRADE
There is no one particular chant I have selected for Red Star Belgrade, mostly due to the overall attention I want to pay to Red Star and their fans. Obviously every club believes they have the best fans in the world, whether by coming up with the most creative chants or by filling the stadium week in, week out. This video shows the hysteria of Red Star Belgrade’s fans, having a legitimate claim to possibly being the most passionate fans in the world.
4. RACING CLUB – TO COME TO RACING
“To come to Racing you have to be a little bit crazy…”
Set to the tune of ‘La Bamba’ by Ritchie Valens, our second Argentinian entry into the list comes from Racing Club. “La Academia,” the club’s nickname, “for fuck’s sake,” is repeated over and over in this catchy chant that gets the Estadio Presidente Peron bouncing on match days.
3. LIVERPOOL/CELTIC – YOU’LL NEVER WALK ALONE
This one needs no introduction. A chant known across the globe and one that many teams try to emulate by picking a song to play for their supporters to sing to before their teams kick off. None can hold quite the same meaning as this one does for these two clubs. You can debate as to who does it better, but there’s no doubt that when either of these two clubs are mentioned the phrase ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ is never far away.
2. PANATHINAIKOS FC – HORTO MAGIKO
“Panatha, I love you, like heroin, like LSD, for you the whole world is stoned…”
Following a similar pattern in Greek football are fans obsessed with their teams, lyrics of chants displaying loyalty and commitment that could match up to any other team in world football. The chant talks about supporting Panathinaikos like it is their drug and they get stoned from their addiction to the club. I take that what the chant is really trying to say is that for the fanatics supporting Panathinaikos is better than any drug they’ve ever tried. The Horto Magiko is a world famous football chant, this proven by the fact that football fans from across the globe have adopted it for their own teams such as Fluminense and Atletico Paranaense in Brazil, Melbourne Victory in Australia and various MLS clubs in the United States.
1. PAOK THESSALONIKI – PAOKARA
“Ooooohhh great PAOK, I have madness in my mind! Wherever you play I will always follow you, for you I live my life and for you I will die!”
This chant basically sums up all you need to know about Greek football, PAOK Thessaloniki and their fans. PAOK haven’t won the Greek Superleague since 1985, but their fans are as passionate as ever. I got to find this out in person in October 2015 when I witnessed a fierce PAOK vs Olympiakos game in PAOK’s home ground, Toumba. When the stadium filled and Gate 4 was a sea of the biggest die hard fanatics chanting the words listed here, I truly believed them. Thankfully I actually got to see a game of football, as the next time these two met in the Greek cup in March 2016 the match was abandoned after a pitch invasion from the PAOK fans.
I hope you enjoyed going through this list as much as I did making it. How would you have arranged it? What have I missed? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!