How about those Diamond's eh? ...
05:53AM, Tue 17 June 2008

It's a Shame Aussies Don't Sing

I have seen and heard far worse group singing than I did on Saturday night at the Southern Sligo Hotel.

Of course, as an Aussie, I rarely hear sports fans standing up and belting out their anthems but I did manage to hear "You'll Never WALK Alone" three times on Saturday.

I had called into Ireland for just on 40 hours to catch up with some friends at a celebrity football match. This was my R&R part of this quick tour, or, to put it more accurately, my D&D (drive and drink - and in that order) part of the tour.

So I whipped into Ireland between Canada (Friday) and Slovakia (Monday), hired a car, and drove across Ireland from Dublin to Sligo (three hours in the gutless VW golf...). I got to the Hotel 3 hours before the game, which was between the "legends of Sligo" and the "legends of Liverpool".

Both side had some legends, respective to the stage on which they have both performed. Sligo featured "Carry" and "Poggsy" and "Dykesy" while Liverpool did show up with Ian Rush and a couple of lads by the name of Mike Marsh and Paul Walsh who could still get around the pitch ok and Jan Molby who simply couldn't.

This was a celebration of Sligo's 80th season, and except for an Aussie mate playing in the local legends side I knew little about the "bit o' red" until now.

I do know that one of the clubs favourite supporters - "Johnny" Chadda passed away in the week leading up to the game. Both teams lined up around the centre circle and acknowledged him, as a photo was carried to the centre of the ground pre-game and Johnny was acknowledged with the first version of "Never WALK Alone" for the day.

I confess, I don't know all the words, but the thousands packed into the tiny ground did and they sang with some gusto. As an Australian, I felt a little out of my league.

The game was fun, All 19 players on the Sligo Squad got a run, which was probably the reason for the 2-0 loss. I was told very clearly before the game that this Liverpool side did not like to lose, and they didn't surprise. There was a little spite, particularly as the only Australian on either side brought down one of the better Liverpool players with a tackle that I could only call crude, but of course which he later claimed as simply "mis-timed".

My mate was handed Man of the Match, which was obviously only chosen from the 19 players representing the local team. To be fair, he might have been Sligo's best. Still, his friends and family were downright embarrassed, and called for the Selectors heads.

Of course, the days celebrations started in earnest afterwards. We packed the bar at the Southern Sligo and then headed downstairs to the function room for the celebratory dinner - attended by all players.

They managed it well. The Liverpool team were drawn one by one from a hat and allocated to a table, as were most of the Sligo lads. When the President finally got to make a few remarks he called on SCruffy Duffy to lead another tribute to Johnny with another singing of the Scousers anthem.

Scruffy Duffy leads "You'll Never WALK Alone" in the style of an American Tent evangelist. To be fair I've not seen much like it. He could have been Billy Graham and Oral Roberts and Creflo A. Dollar all rolled into one. I don't think he's the slighest bit religous, except that living where he does he's likely to be Catholic.

But you cannot possibly not get involved in the singing when he leads it. It is charismatic. Everyone stood, everyone sang and by now even I was getting to know the words. By this stage everyone was well lubricated and entire groups joined arms across the room and simply belted out the words. It was something of a treat to see the Liverpool players, standing at tables with people they probably have never met before, arm in arm with those suppoters and singing with enormous passion. It is a pretty genuine thing.

In Australian Sport possibly only the Kangaroos have that sort of club feel - the Shinboners thing. Still, they would not spontaneously and unashamedly launch into song like this.

But it was not done. Scruffy Duffy started the disco rolling (compare, DJ, entertainer, singer all rolled into one). He worked hard and got people on the dance floor and after a long long set of classic hits and memories, demanded one more chorus of "Never WALK Alone" all over again.

The last one was just as passionate as the first two, perhaps a little more slurred, which helped blur the fact that I really really do not know the words but I sang, and that was appreciated - if I had not, I might well have been asked to leave.

Great fun, great passion and a great celebration of a tiny football club that has a long and proud tradition in Irelands "professional" league. The Liverpool lads drank till the late hours of the morning with the fans, and reportedly were the last to leave - I get the impression they do this sort of thing every second weekend.
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11:29AM, Tue 17 June 2008
You know I always enjoy your updates and I don't want to take anything away from the poignant picture you have so eloquently painted, but...
I'm hoping Scruffy was singing "You'll Never Walk Alone". "You'll Never Stand Alone" is a Whitney Houston song ( ). This video shows what the other song means to Celtic and Liverpool fans - .
It's still a great report of what I'm sure was an unforgettable (and a very long) day.
Walk on!
PS: I hope you kept quiet that you were an Toffees fan?
Reply to
03:46PM, Tue 17 June 2008
look, i agree with paolo above me here mate - great report but c'mon hammer, you're a sports fan aren't you?
you knew MOST of the words, fair enough. its just that the climax of the whole song is that last line...
you know, if you umm'd and ahh'dit through the middle stages, fair enough - walk on, walk on and la la la la la and you'll never WALK alone you'll NEEEVER WALK alone
get the words right, or you probably will be standing alone next time!

look having said all that - i agree. singing is one of the great european sporting pastimes and this is one of the great anthems. i do wish we taught our kids to sing at an earlier age so we could give it a bash at sporting events....

however, freo heave ho doesn't have quite the same feel
cheers mate - i can actually see you there having a ball and would have been great to stuff up the words standing beside you in ireland. cheers.

Reply to Andy Collins
06:25PM, Tue 17 June 2008
very funny lads, all fixed.....moraL. don't write crap like this at 4.30am at Dublin airport while taking phone calls from Collins and Maywald....
Reply to MC
06:20PM, Wed 18 June 2008
hey - i must have misread about the song lyrics. great post, mate.
do mean writing at 4am after 10 pints? is that what 'taking calls' means? they are called 'shouts' in Australia
Reply to Andy Collins

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