Rio Ferdinand says football fans should be hailed for poetic genius

Terrace wit is pure poetry: Ex-England defender Rio Ferdinand says football fans should be hailed for their poetic genius thanks to chants such as ‘When the ball hits your head and you’re sat in row Z, that’s Zamora’

  • Ferdinand is a judge for a Premier League poetry competition for schoolchildren
  • Ex-Manchester United defender said some football verses are a ‘kind of poetry’ 
  • The 40-year-old also revealed he has dabbled in poetry, writing best man poems

Well-known for its tough tackling and harsh conditions, Rio Ferdinand thinks the Premier League deserves more praise for the ‘poetry’ fans produce. 

He was of course talking about the chants English fans create, including the classic Bobby Zamora one to the tune of Dean Martin’s That’s Amore, that alludes to the striker’s sometimes wayward shooting.   

‘When the ball hits your head and you’re sat in row Z, that’s Zamora,’ it goes.  

Ferdinand in his Manchester United days and Zamora (right) celebrating a goal for West Ham

Ferdinand, the ex-England and Manchester United defender is a judge for a Premier League poetry competition for primary school children and said some football verses are a ‘kind of poetry.’

The best of terrace banter: Football fans’ wittiest chants  

‘Chelsea, wherever you may be, keep your wife from John Terry’ – Chelsea fans about their captain John Terry following his highly publicised alleged affair with Wayne Bridge’s ex-girlfriend. 

You’ve Got to File for Divorce…’  – More relationship advice for Chelsea players. This time offered to Ashley Cole in 2010 and sang to the tune of his ex, Cheryl Cole’s, ‘Fight For This Love’. Ouch.

‘You’ve been hit by, You’ve been struck by, Leeeee Catter-mole!’ – Sunderland fans to their tough-tackling, and somewhat undisciplined, midfielder to the tune of Smooth criminal by Michael Jackson.

‘You’re not as good as Christmas!’ – Sang creative Bristol Rovers fans to under-performing Wycombe striker Jermaine Easter who went on to play for them.

‘You should have stayed on the telly’ – Newcastle United fans sang about Match of the Day pundit and club legend Alan Shearer after he managed them into relegation.

Whilst football has been marred by negative and sometimes obscene chants in the past, fans have also been pleasantly creative in their terrace musings. 

Another of Ferdinand’s former teams, West Ham, from east London, do not let their well-heeled London counterparts, Fulham, forget that they’re considered by some to be posh.

‘Does Your Butler Know You’re Here?’ they can sometimes be heard chanting at Fulham fans.  

Scousers, well known for their wit and their love of football have rolled out dozens of crackers in the past.  

‘He’s fast, he’s red, he talks like Father Ted, Robbie Keane,’ Liverpool fans used to sing about their former striker from Ireland.   

‘Deep fry yer pizzas, we’re gonna deep fry yer pizzas,’ sang pithy Scotland fans to Italy’s supporters in a World Cup qualifier in March 2007. 

More modern classics include ‘Will Grigg’s On Fire’, an ode to the Wigan and Northern Ireland striker who lit up League One with his goals the season before last, to the tune of Gala’s 90s hit Freed From Desire.

Whilst his goal scoring was halted by scarce playing time at the European Championships in France in 2016, the chant dominated the airwaves at the tournament and saw Northern Ireland fans named amongst the best that summer.  

Liverpool fans never cease in their quest for witty chants and can often be heard musing their African attackers, Saido Mane and Mo Salah, singing ‘Salah, Oh Mane Mane’ to the tune of Sugar, Sugar by The Archies. 

Probably one of the most well-known chants of recent times is ‘Will Grigg’s On Fire’

Ferdinand himself has been subject of chants in the past, having spent well over a decade at the top of the game. 

Music-mad Mancs latched onto the opportunity to put a spin on Duran Duran’s 1982 hit, ‘Rio’. 

It goes: ‘Her name is Rio and she dances on the sand’ but United fans reworked the lyrics to: ‘His name is Rio and he dances on the grass/ Don’t take the ball from him, he’ll kick your f****** ass.’

Ferdinand is now a pundit for BT Sport and was the subject of several chants in his playing days

Ferdinand is now a pundit and has still got a strong love for Manchester United, bursting into a passionate chant of ‘Ole’s at the wheel’, an ode to the Norweigan manager masterminding the club’s turnaround and in this instance the Champions League win over Paris Saint Germain last week.  

In an interview in advance of World Poetry Day on March 21 where results of the primary school competition will be announced, the 40-year-old also revealed he has dabbled in poetry. 

He said that when he is a best man at weddings, he writes a poem instead of a speech. 

‘They got a few tears and a few laughs: the best reason for doing a poem. The grooms have framed them,’ he said.  





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