Jack the Lad: A new Swans song?

21st February 2018

Loyal Swans fan and website columnist Jack the Lad explains why the Winter Olympics has got him thinking about Swansea City.

That fortnight has come around again when I stay up until silly o’clock to watch sports I barely take any notice of during the intervening four years.

Yes, it’s the Winter Olympics, and once again I find myself mesmerised by moguls and distracted by downhills.

How can you not get caught up in the chaos of snowboard cross?

And then there’s the figure skating. Give me a couple more days and I’ll be able to tell you the most intricate differences between a triple toe-loop and a quadruple Salchow!

I really can’t help but get caught up in all the action, whether they're skating, skiing or sliding along the snow and ice – apart, of course, from curling – unless I’m desperate to get off to sleep.

But something particularly grabbed my attention on Saturday morning while I was watching a women’s ice hockey group match between the snappily titled Olympic Athletes from Russia and Switzerland.

Yes, I know, perhaps not the most thrilling of fixtures on paper, but it was either that or the curling and I was filling in time with before the Swans kicked off against Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup.

When the Russians scored their first goal, I noticed the strangely familiar strains of a childhood chart hit above the din of the celebrating crowd.

I listened a little more intently before realising the Russian goal celebration music was in fact 'Those Were the Days' sung by one of Pontardawe’s finest – Mary Hopkin!

At first, I couldn’t fathom the connection between a team of female Russian ice hockey players and the Swansea Valley’s Sixties singing sensation's biggest hit.

However, a quick consultation with Mr Google confirmed the smash was originally a Russian love song, which had been translated into English by Gene Raskin and produced by none other than Paul McCartney! Who knew?!

Anyway, the Russian team obviously prefer Mary’s take over the original in their mother tongue, as this version was most definitely the one featured.

I hope Mary’s agent is keeping tabs on her royalties, because the Russians went on to score five more times in the match, meaning her 1969 worldwide number one hit was getting almost as much international airtime as it did back when it topped the charts in 16 countries around the globe!

But the whole episode got me thinking about the subject of goal celebration songs and their introduction into football in this country, largely from sports like basketball and ice hockey across the Atlantic.

And do you know, I couldn’t for the life of me remember if the Swans have goal celebration music when they score at the Liberty or secondly, if they do, what it is.

Now this got me worried for a minute. Either the Swans really have become short on goals recently, or my memory is becoming as patchy as the ice on a Jamaican bobsleigh track.

But when I thought about it, not noticing whether we have goal celebration music or not isn’t really that surprising as I am not what you would call a calm and quiet celebrator.

I don’t know about you, but when the Swans score, I tend to get a little bit lost in the moment.

The first few seconds after the ball hits the net usually see me spending more time in the air than British ski jumper Eddie the Eagle Edwards did all those years ago.

There are also usually a couple of air punches, which invariably result in the clasp on my watch strap flying open, and the next few seconds are spent trying to do it up again.

Or if it’s a particularly important goal, trying to retrieve the watch itself from someone four or five rows in front of me.

So by the time I’ve composed myself, any celebration music has probably ended.

Even when the goal is obviously a consolation effort, the optimist in me is usually still trying to work out whether there’s still time for us to snatch another.

I do have a vague recollection of the catchy 1980 hit Tom Hark by the Piranhas playing in the background after some Swans goals at the Liberty, but perhaps that’s just part of the general post goal chaos going on in my own head, rather than anything that’s playing over the Tannoy.

Thinking about it, Tom Hark would be an appropriate goal song for Saturday's opponents Brighton to play because the band hailed from the seaside town. Perhaps they do.

If so, I sincerely hope they don't get the opportunity to play it this weekend.

And Swans fans could do worse than singing along to 'Those Were the Days' on their travels to the South Coast, especially as the first verse sounds like a typical scene from an away trip:

"Once upon a time there was a tavern
Where we used to raise a glass or two
Remember how we laughed away the hours
And dreamed of all the great things we would do."

After all, the song was made a hit by one of our own – even if it was written by a Soviet songwriter and adopted by the Olympic Athletes from Russia as they banged in the goals in South Korea.

C'mon you Swans!