(Photo from Click Manchester)
Adopted as my second home as I'm currently at university there, I've been fortunate enough to attend several Stoke City home games. Officially the loudest ground in the Premiership, the atmosphere is one of a true football game and a pleasure to be a part of. The true highlight of it all though is "Delilah", a somewhat crude anthem that sums up Stoke City and their fans perfectly.
Originally a song by Welsh crooner Tom Jones, the story of it's transformation into a football song is shrouded in mystery. There are two main beliefs among Stoke fans though, both of which I will talk about.
The first is that of T.J., a legendary, almost mythical, fan from the 1980's who many think started the tradition single-handedly. An ever-present at home and away games, it is believed he started the singing of it in a local pub, complete with re-done lyrics. Then, at home games, other fans would go deathly quiet and begin to chant "T.J.! T.J.!", demanding him to kick off the song. At this point, T.J. would stand up and begin the song on his own, with the rest of the crowd joining in for the "Woooooaaaahhhh!" and "She stood there laughing!" parts. If this story is indeed true, T.J. will go down as one of the most famous fans in English football ever.
The other strand of belief is that it began in the late 70's, thanks to The Sensational Alex Harvey Band. At the time, "Delilah" had been a huge hit for Tom Jones and many bands produced and released covers. Arguably the most famous of all though is that of The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, their cover reaching number 7 in the 1975 UK charts. It is believed that, later on in the decade, the band played a gig at Stoke's former stadium, the Victoria Ground, playing the song. Stoke City played the next day and, during the game, fans began singing the song. It caught on rapidly and soon, fans from the Boothen End began changing the lyrics, resulting in what we hear today.
The Sensational Alex Harvey Band:
It was a different time....
However, the song has changed slightly since those times. Instead of people chanting "T.J.!", the crowd often makes a shushing sound, letting everyone know that the song is about to start. The lyrics have also come under scrutiny due to the explicitness, particularly the line "I put my d**k in her hands". Some people have called for them to be changed and "I put my knife in her hands" has been heard instead at some games.
Let's have a listen to the song, this time performed by fans before the FA Cup final in 2011.
Now it's time to gauge the fans' opinion. For this, seeing as I study in Stoke, I spoke to passer-byes in the Shelton area. As Stoke fans are known for being both fiercely proud and loyal to their club and it's traditions, I can see only one outcome.
Roger (54), from Stoke-on-Trent, said, "I love the song. I go to every Stoke home game and it's a pleasure to join in with. It sums us "Stokies" up well I think."
Ross (36), also from Stoke-on-Trent, agreed. He said, "I truly think we have the best traditional club song. Whilst "You'll Never Walk Alone" and other songs are more famous, none of them match the fans as well as "Delilah" does."
Dan (21), from Burton-upon-Trent, whilst admitting to being only a casual fan, said "I love it to be honest. I only go to a couple of home games a year but nothing beats when everybody begins shushing because you know what's coming. They sing it so loud as well!"
Matt (20), from Market Harborough, recalls his favourite "Delilah" memory. "Just after we lost 1-0 to Manchester City in the F.A. Cup final, all of the players came over to applaud us and we started singing it. That's the loudest I've ever heard it and it was a very emotional moment. It summed up the Stoke City spirit well.
An overwhelming yes for "Delilah" then it seems!
That's all for this post folks! Join me in a few days for the next installment and, don't forget, if you want to agree/disagree, you can always leave a comment!
Thanks for reading!