Jack the Lad: The Song remains the same...sort of!

27th February 2019

Loyal Swans fan and website columnist Jack the Lad on how some familiar tunes in an unlikely setting disrupted his Champions League scouting mission.

When Schalke 04 entertained Manchester City the other night, I thought I’d undertake a double scouting mission.

The first priority was looking out for any weaknesses in the City side ahead of next month’s FA Cup quarter-final clash.

The second was to see if Wales’ other jet-propelled rising young winger, Rabbi Matondo, would be in the German club’s line-up.

Matondo is reputed to be just as quick as our own Welsh wing wonder Daniel James, and I was keen to make a comparison in anticipation of Wales one-day unleashing both speedsters on an unsuspecting opponent.

But around 55 minutes into the game something else took my attention. With the home side leading 2-1 and City looking distinctly rattled, something strange happened.

The Schalke fans - obviously in good spirits at being in the lead - were in full voice and the tune they were singing sounded strangely familiar.

At first I thought it was a rendition of Rod Stewart’s Seventies smash hit “Sailing”.

Whilst an apparently strange choice for German football fans, it kind of made sense as Rod is synonymous with football and Schalke did seem to be “sailing” to a famous victory at the time.

But as I listened a little closer, it dawned on me it wasn’t Rod the Mod’s hit at all. In fact, it was our very own Skewen-born singing sensation Bonnie Tyler’s “It’s a Heartache” that was reverberating around the Veltins arena.

If Sailing was difficult to explain, German fans singing a South Wales inspired Seventies' rock ballad about heartache, while beating the champions of England, had me totally flummoxed!

But then again, I remembered Bonnie was hugely popular in Germany back in the day and things started to make a little more sense.

A quick whiz around a well-known internet search engine unearthed accounts of Borussia Dortmund fans singing Bonnie’s ballad during a Champions League match against Arsenal back in 2013.

Apparently it’s also popular amongst Argentinian club fans. Who knew?

Mind you, one Bonnie Tyler song did spring to my mind during a fairly recent footballing away trip.

Having used my 'O' Level French (I failed, by the way) to ask a taxi-driver to take us back to our hotel on the outskirts of Bordeaux in the drunken aftermath of Wales’ Euro 2016 victory over Slovakia, we suddenly noticed he seemed to be driving in completely the opposite direction.

When, after 30 minutes driving, we spotted a motorway sign saying “Paris”, panic started to set in accompanied by Bonnie’s gravely voice belting out “Lost in France”.

“Holding Out for a Hero” – at least a French-speaking one – may have been more appropriate, but I eventually managed to explain where we needed to be and we reached our beds shortly before dawn.

I suppose I shouldn’t really be surprised by Schalke singing Bonnie’s song, as clubs have been adopting all kinds of strange and seemingly unrelated tunes for years.

"I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles"? Enough said.

And it’s not the first time a local songstress has featured during a top-level sporting event.

Last year, my keen ears picked up on the fact that the Russian ladies ice hockey team’s goal celebration song was none other than Pontardawe-born Mary Hopkins’ Sixties sensation “Those Were The Days My Friend”.

I know what you’re thinking. I should turn the volume down on my TV and just concentrate on watching the sport.

But if I did that, who would bring you all these snippets of sonic and sporting trivia?

C’mon you Swans.