“It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming. Football’s coming home!”

World Cup fever is gripping England after the national team made it into the knock-out round of the tournament in Russia. Gareth Southgate’s England has enjoyed its best start to a World Cup in 12 years, beating Tunisia 2-1 and Panama 6-1 in the group stage – our biggest win in history at a major tournament!

Despite losing the final group match 1-0 against Belgium on 28th June, England is through to the next round and will face Colombia in the round of 16, on Tuesday 3rd July. If they manage to beat Colombia, they’ll meet either Switzerland or Sweden in the quarter-finals.

Fans are becoming increasingly hopeful that the young squad can emulate England’s victory in the 1966 World Cup, especially since England is considered to have the “easier” draw in the last 16 by finishing runners-up in their group. Had they won their group, they would have met Brazil, France or Argentina, so their loss to Belgium may have been a blessing in disguise.


World Cup songs

There have been many World Cup songs throughout history and the most famous one associated with the England team is The Lightning Seeds’ Three Lions (Football’s Coming Home) – a chant which is repeated every time the team plays an international match.

The Three Lions song was originally released in 1996 by the Lightning Seeds, joined by Frank Skinner and David Baddiel. At the time, comedians Baddiel and Skinner presented the football show, Fantasy Football League, on TV, so they wrote the lyrics for Three Lions, while rock band the Lightning Seeds provided the music.

The Lightning Seeds was already a successful band in its own right, before it received the massive publicity associated with recording the official England football song. The band was formed in 1989 in Liverpool by vocalist and guitarist Ian Broudie, formerly of the punk band, Big in Japan.


Misheard lyrics

The name of the band was chosen after the lyrics of a song about Thunder and Lightning were misheard! Legend has it that Broudie was trying to think up a name for his new band and was listening to Price’s hit song, Raspberry Beret, at the time.

He heard the lyrics, “The rain sounds so cool when it hits the barn roof … thunder drowns out what the lightning sees,” but apparently thought Prince was singing about “lightning seeds” and decided that was a great name for a band! Whether it’s true or not, it’s a great story.


Three Lions

Three Lions went to number one in the UK pop charts in 1996. The lyrics were unusual because they weren’t like most football songs that speak of England’s optimism for winning the World Cup, even though realistically this wasn’t likely to happen at the time.

Instead, it spoke of how every football tournament had ended with hopes being dashed since England’s one victory in 1966. It seemed to hit a chord with fans, especially since it mentioned many well-known retired football players, such as Bobby Moore and Gary Lineker.


FA approval

Before the song was released as the official song of the England football team, the lyrics had to be submitted to the FA for approval. The governing body of football made one or two changes before they were happy with the final version.

The FA objected to the line, “Butcher ready for war” – referring to England player Terry Butcher carrying on playing in 1989 with his head bleeding after an injury. Instead, the words, “Bobby belting the ball” were in the final version of the song, referring to Bobby Charlton. The FA felt the word “war” suggested hooliganism – an image they were trying to escape from.

As the Britpop phenomenon was at its height in 1996, Three Lions had a very wide appeal, with the Lightning Seeds at the forefront of the movement. So, as well as being a cult football song, Three Lions was a hit in its own right.

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