It is one of the most sung football hymns around the globe – “You’ll never walk alone”. Let us take a look at the history behind this ‘football prayer’…
I wrote this feature a few years ago and I thought it might be still of interest for many football fans out there! So enjoy reading!
The song “You’ll never walk alone” was originally a show tune from the musical “Carousel” written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. “Carousel” was an adaptation of the play “Liliom” by Ferenc Molnar and one of the first musicals containing a tragic plot.
The original production opened on Broadway on April 19, 1945, and ran for 890 performances. The musical has enjoyed award-winning revivals and was adapted as a Cinemascope 55 film in 1956 and as a made-for-television special on videotape in 1967.
In the musical, Nettie Fowler, the cousin of the female protagonist Julie Jordan, sings “You’ll never walk alone” to comfort and encourage Julie when her husband, Billy Bigelow, the male lead, kills himself after a failed robbery. It is reprised in the final scene to encourage a graduation class of which their daughter Louise is a member. Billy attends this ceremony during his return to earth and inspires them with his words of encouragement to assure them of his love.
“You’ll never walk alone” was one of the favourite songs of Gerry Mardsen, singer of the successful British rock-and-roll group ‘Gerry & the Pacemakers’, as he witnessed the magic of “Carousel” while growing up. He convinced his band members to cover the song and to release it as one of their next singles. The band from Liverpool conquered the charts with their interpretation of the song. It soon became the signature tune of Liverpool Football Club and the club even adopted the slogan on their club crest. To this day, the song remains a football anthem, there and elsewhere, a phenomenon more due to Gerry Marsden rather than its Broadway composers.
Gerry Marsden presented the then Liverpool manager Bill Shankly a recording of his upcoming cover single during a LFC pre-season trip in the summer of 1963. Shankly was in awe of what he heard and football writers from the local newspapers, travelling with the team, filed a copy back to their editors to the effect that LFC had adopted Gerry Marsden’s forthcoming single as the club song.
The song has since conquered numerous football arenas around the world and is nowadays an indespensable part of the football culture, especially in the red half of Liverpool. It is indeed a true anthem of the game…!
I would like to present you the ‘Top 10’ of interesting interpretations of “You’ll never walk alone”…
10. Gerry & the Pacemakers
The most famous and loved version of the song by ‘Gerry & the Pacemakers’ from Liverpool. It’s the interpretation played in football stadiums around the globe and it’s sure to make your spine tingle. The one and the only ‘football prayer’…
9. Die Toten Hosen
The German rock band ‘Die Toten Hosen’ played their part in the evolution of the song. The Germans produced a rock song and an anthem for football fans watching the matches in pubs with their beers.
8. The Three Tenors
Plácido Domingo, José Carreras and Luciano Pavarotti – the legends of classical music and their attempt to give the song a new flavour. A waste of time…
7. Tom Jones
‘The Tiger’ surprised everyone with a soul version of “You’ll never walk alone”. Tom Jones delivered a stunning performance with his well-known emotional voice and style.
6. Jordin Sparks
The ‘American Idol’ winner Jordin Sparks covered the song during her successful run in the casting show. The reactions varied from ‘excellent’ to ‘disaster’…
5. Renée Fleming
Renée Fleming performed “You’ll never walk alone” at the ‘The Obama Inaugural Celebration Concert’ in honour of the newly elected US president Barack Obama.
4. Elvis Presley
‘The King’ himself interpreted the song in his world-famous style and with a gospel choir in the background. It can be called one of the best cover versions of the anthem.
3. Celtic FC supporters
An emotional moment: The fans of Celtic remember the victims of the 2004 terrorist attack in Madrid during their UEFA Cup match against FC Barcelona.
2. Danielle and Jeri
One of the curious YouTube highlights you shouldn’t miss out! Two drunken English girls have an attempt at singing “You’ll never walk alone” with their Karaoke machine… You will love the original song even more after listening to this version!
1. Liverpool FC fans
The birth place of the one and only ‘football prayer’ – Anfield Road, Liverpool! Just sit back and enjoy the chants…
(Written with excerpts from Wikipedia)