Why football chants are not suitable toddler songs…

It’s tough for dads. While modern parenting means some of them get to stay at home to undertake childcare these days, the vast majority of the time it’s still the mums who hang out with the kids in the very early days. In many ways they’re lucky: their careers don’t stall, they can still spend most of their days dressed in clothes which don’t smell of vomit and people still believe they’re capable of holding conversations which don’t revolve around bottles, boobs, nappies and sleep cycles.

But they miss out too: obviously in terms of things like cuddles, early bonding and watching the little ones grow up, but also in terms of baby groups. I’m not saying baby groups are amazing. Let’s face it, they’re largely a way of killing time. When you’re not at work, the need for adult conversation suddenly takes on an unexpected urgency. You’ll go to anything – rhyme time, baby yoga, baby massage, music and movement – any free group with a cutesy name is bound to be full of incredibly bored mums desperate for someone to talk to. Of course, there are always a few weirdos who take it seriously, but you can spot those when you walk in and give them a wide birth.

Upon returning to work, these groups became a rapidly fading memory for me, but occasionally I realised they had served a purpose. While they may have stared into space like hypnotised garden gnomes at the time, come toddlerhood it turns out kids genuinely do want to sing inane songs about pigs and dragons. Thankfully, months of touring the baby groups leaves a mum fully equipped with a plethora of such ditties.

This is where the dad loses out. While I could chatter away singing 5 little monkeys, 5 little ducks, 2 little men in a flying saucer, and various other songs revolving around numbers, mammals and implausibly poor behaviour (see this post for my thoughts on kids’ songs), my husband was lost. He didn’t know any, and his attempt to pick them up from my singing resulted in some very strange and worrying story lines.

So he reverted to what he knew: football. In the first two years of his life, our son has probably been subjected to more football chants than most of us hear in our entire lives, all revolving around the one true love of my husband’s life – Colchester United.

The youngest Colchester. United fan?

The youngest Colchester. United fan?

Each month when the page is turned on the Colchester united calendar (which I seem powerless to stop appearing in our house each year), our son is taught a new chant relating to that month’s featured player. Hence every morning this summer has been accompanied by a strange gurgling chant of ‘Oh, Jabo Ibehre’. Bath time is generally accompanied by the full Colchester theme, with the adaptation ‘We’re football good and clean – like George!’.

This all seems quite cute and harmless, but things take a slightly stranger turn post-bath time when, like any normal small child, he likes to charge around naked avoiding putting his pyjamas on. At this point, my other half lights upon a chant which, to me, has nothing to do with football, but everything to do with male posturing. The original, I believe, is aimed at their rivals Southend. My husband’s adaptation is printed below for your enjoyment/cringing:

He’ll be running round the bathroom when he comes

He’ll be running round the bathroom when he comes

He’ll be running round the bathroom, running round the bathroom, running round the bathroom with his willy hanging out

Singing I’ve got a bigger one than you

Singing I’ve got a bigger one than you

Singing I’ve got a bigger, I’ve got a bigger, I’ve got a bigger one than you

At first it seemed funny, if slightly inappropriate. When my husband was out one night and my son requested ‘Daddy’s song’ and started shouting ‘willy out’, I felt it was time to tone it down. When he reached that age of copying everything and blurting things out at random moments, I became a bit sterner in my requests for this song to stop, fearing he would sing it around other children at the childminder’s and we’d become outcasts forever in the parental community.

My husband laughed and gave me his ‘you worry too much’ look. I’ll be honest, I love to be proved right when he does that, but on this occasion, I could have given it a miss.

Two weeks ago, we took the boy to the beautiful village of Dedham to watch his granny in concert. She sings in a very formal and traditional choral society and we’d had slight worries that he would embarrass us by charging around the church, but on the day he was an angel. He played in the park then accepted happily that he was going in his buggy and was expected to sit still and listen. I explained we were listening to granny sing and as we walked towards our seats he started chirping himself. As the only child there, he attracted loads of attention from the locals, wandering over to coo at how cute and well behaved he was. I smiled and nodded, the proud mother, leaning over myself to realise just in time that, far from continuing the La-la-las he’d started as we entered the church, he was smiling sweetly at a group of old ladies while chanting ‘I’ve got a bigger one than you!’

Truth be told, I’m not sure what concerns me more: the fact that he’s been indoctrinated already and I seem doomed to live my life among football obsessives, or the early onset of male posturing. Either way, I think I need to spend my summer exposing him to some slightly less stereotypical alpha male activities!


One response

  1. I taught my little boy famous Liverpool songs including Poor Scouser Tommy. At the age of 3 he knew every single word. His mum also thought that the lyrics were somewhat inappropriate especially the lines “as he lay on the battlefield dying (dying) with the blood gushing out of his head”.

    However the true meaning of this song has history, battles, passion, death and glory all rolled into one.

    I was quite amazed that at the age of 3 my son had memorised every single word and he has not yet been to a football match, whilst adults who attend Anfield struggle to learn the song.

    Football chants (without the swearing) are a great introduction of rhythm for children and help them expand their memory. Most football songs are based on some form of repetitive rhythm, similar to nursery rhymes.

    I am due to take my little boy to Anfield to watch his first match during the summer.

    The song itself was based on a battle in South Africa link below provided:-


    As for the full lyrics:-

    Let me tell you the story of a poor boy
    Who was sent far away from his home
    To fight for his king and his country
    And also the old folks back home

    So they put him in a Highland division
    Sent him off to a far foreign land
    Where the flies swarm around in their thousands
    And there’s nothing to see but the sand

    In a battle that started next morning
    Under a Libyan sun
    I remember that poor Scouser Tommy
    Who was shot by an old Nazi gun

    As he lay on the battle field dying
    With the blood rushing out of his head (of his head)
    As he lay on the battle field dying (dying dying)
    These were the last words he said…

    Oh…I am a Liverpudlian
    I come from the Spion Kop
    I like to sing, I like to shout
    I get thrown out quite a lot (every week)

    We support the team that plays in red
    A team that we all know
    A team that we call Liverpool
    And to glory we will go

    We’ve won the League, we’ve won the Cup
    We’ve been to Europe too
    We played the Toffees for a laugh
    And we left them feeling blue – Five Nil !

    One two
    One two three
    One two three four
    Five nil !

    Rush scored one
    Rush scored two
    Rush scored three
    And Rush scored four!

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