Football chants inspire folk singer Minnie Birch’s new album

Minnie Birch Image copyright Minnie Birch
Image caption Minnie Birch’s previous songs have been played on BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 2 and BBC 6 Music

A singer-songwriter has released an album of her versions of football chants heard at grounds across the country.

Minnie Birch‘s album You’re Not Singing Anymore includes songs from Newcastle United, West Ham and Manchester United.

She said football’s sense of community had reminded her of folk clubs and the tradition of communal singing.

“It’s quite impressive and a nice feeling seeing all these people singing together at once,” she said.

Birch, from Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, said she only got interested in football about five or six years ago when she was invited to perform at half-time during a Watford Ladies game.

“So I went along and had never been before, and felt that sense of community, similar to what you find in a folk club. At the same time, I had a lot to learn,” she said.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Newcastle United fans love singing The Blaydon Races

She began watching Premier League matches and heard singing from fans, which inspired her project.

“When I started collecting football chants and putting this album together, I thought I’d start with the ones I know and look at the ones that are folk songs, such as The Blaydon Races,” she said.

Birch sings that song, a favourite among Newcastle United fans, and also blends two Manchester United songs, John Brown’s Body and a version of Spirit in the Sky in praise of George Best.

“I liked the juxtaposition of the two songs,” she said.

“Countless” others were too rude, however.

“When looking at the Premier League I had to change a couple of words now and then. People, I’m sure, can use their imagination,” she said.

Image copyright Minnie Birch
Image caption Minnie Birch became interested in football when she was asked to perform at half-time in a Watford Ladies match

For her project she interviewed supporters and found people opening up with “so many memories, not only about football”.

She said: “So many of the guys spoke about their relationship with their dads, only opening up when you ask about football.

“I found the football community so welcoming. People do want to share their passions with you.”

Clips from some of these interviews have been used on the album.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Birch is planning to record a second volume of songs, which may include Norwich City’s On the Ball, City

Birch now plans a second volume of songs, collaborating with musicians from the corresponding areas of the country.

She may include one of her favourite songs, On the Ball, City.

“The Norwich City song is supposed to be the oldest chant. It’s nice that they still sing it,” she said.

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