Kicker Conspiracy



Kicker, Kicker Conspiracy
Kicker, Kicker Conspiracy

J. Hill's satanic reign
Ass-lickers Keegan's Team 

Kicker, Kicker Conspiracy

In the marble halls of the charm school
How flair is punished
Under Marble Millichip, the F.A. broods (3)
On how flair can be punished
Their guest is a Euro-State magnate
How flair is punished

Kicker, Kicker Conspiracy 

In the booze club, George Best does rule (4)
How flair is punished
His downfall was a blonde girl,
but that's none of your business!

Kicker, Kicker Conspiracy

Former fan at the bus stop
Stretched on the balls of his feet
In the christmas rush
Had in his hands, two lager cans
Talks to himself
At the back
At the top

But in the pavement of the club unit
Plastic, Slime, Partitions, Cocktail, Zig-Zag, Tudor Bar

Pat McCatt. Pat McCatt, the very famous sports reporter is
talking...there. (5)

FANS! ! ! Remember, you are abroad!
Remember the police are rough!
Remember the unemployed!
Remember my expense account!

Hot dogs and seat for Mr. Hogg!
Hot dogs and seat for Mr. Hogg
And his grotty spawn!

Lurid brochures for ground unit  (6)
How style is punished

Kicker, Kicker Conspiracy
Remember, don't collect with the rough
Kicker, Kicker Conspiracy

Kicker, destroy the facilities! (7)

Kicker Conspiracy



1. The indispensable Reformation has recorded a couple of quotes from MES about the song:

MES: "I noticed the early signs [of the middle class takeover of football] when I wrote 'Kicker' but I never imagined it'd become so cunical [sic] and anti-communual [sic]. They hike the price of tickets in order to have it for themselves." (Renegade, page 220)
MES in an interview with Adrian Deevoy in International Musician and Recording World (May 1983): " A lot of the stuff I write is like prose cut down - trying to get it down as a fraction of what I originally said. I did that with Kicker Conspiracy. I must have worked for about three months on that song. "

From the football (that's "soccer" for us Yanks) web site "When Saturday Comes":
The Fall did a song about football, Kicker Conspiracy, back in the early 1980s. What sort of reaction did it get at the time? 
You couldn’t mention football in the rock world then. We were on Rough Trade and I told them “This is about football violence” and it was all “You don’t go to football, do you?” I remember Melody Maker saying, “Mark Smith’s obviously got writer’s block having to write about football.” About five years later, the same guy reviewed something else saying it was a load of rubbish and “nowhere near the heights of Kicker Conspiracy”. And now, of course, all the old music hacks are sat in the directors’ box with Oasis.
And, from an Uncut interview in 2003 (thanks to Dan):
"It's about English soccer violence being triggered off by rubbish management and frustration that the game's been taken away from its support, that the English game is so boring there's nothing else to do. I remember thinking at the time that if Maradonna had been born in Manchester he'd've been lucky to get a game with a local pub team, being cheeky, overweight, small and sweaty. It coincided with me not going any more due to muscle-bound teams, expensive tickets and that, so there's an element of sadness too.
2. Jimmy Hill (1928-2015) was an ex-footballer who was chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association; in 1961 he was instrumental in the abolition of the maximum wage (20 pounds at the time). In 1961 Hill also became manager of Coventry City, and introduced a lot of changes which were grouped under the rubric "The Sky Blue Revolution." According to Joseph Mullaney:

"Jimmy Hill is most famous in the UK as a former pundit on Match of the Day, the flagship football programme on BBC television. Hill is well-known for his strong and informed views on football tactics and the game in general."
3. The main entrance Highbury, Arsenal's stadium until 2006, had lots of marble and was called the "marble halls." The stadium is now an apartment complex, but the halls were preserved and incorporated in the new building.  Sir Bert Millichip was chairman of the National Football Association ("F.A.") from 1981-1996, and "Marble Millichip" may be a reference to the marble halls, although I haven't confirmed that he was ever called this by anyone save MES. The nickname may be meant to imply that Millichip was partial in his dealings; as a Manchester City fan, MES presumably has little love for Arsenal. The reference to Highbury as "charm school" is doubtless sarcastic, but it is otherwise beyond my football expertise to decipher it...see the comments below for speculation.
4. The Lyrics Parade has "Blues Club," with the following explanation: "The Blues Club was the Manchester City supporters club bar at Maine Road. George Best - 60's soccer icon - played for Manchester United, City's arch rivals, but he was still revered for his style and brilliance. Mark E Smith has said on UK TV that even though he's a City fan he often went with mates to watch United just so he could see Best play." However, both the ears of my readers (better attuned than mine, usually) and the blue lyrics book have "booze club," and it seems to make more sense than the club of a rival. Indeed, Best had problems with alcohol, and admitted to stealing money from a woman's handbag at a bar, among other sordid episodes. Again from When Saturday Comes:
Funnily enough, I met George Best a few times – first was in some drinking club in London in the early 1980s. He heard I was from Manchester and went into this big rant about how he’d used to get all this stick from the crowd at United when they thought he wasn’t doing enough. It was true he did used to stand around doing nothing for 80 minutes but I thought that was all right, given that he’d still win them the game. But he’d still get stick when he was going off from Bobby Charlton and the other players. He was the type who’d just walk into his local boozer and there will always be people wanting to have a go, if you’re like that. 
5. There is no actual Pat McCatt. Michael F points out that it is a joke Irish name like "Phil McCavity" (or, one might add, "Paddy O'Furniture"). The lyrics book has "Pat McGatt," but it sounds more like McCatt, and Michael's comment puts it over the top, as do certain live versions where the enunciation is particularly clear (there is no record anywhere on the internet of a "Pat McGatt--or McCatt, for that matter--so there was certainly never a "very famous sports reporter" with that moniker). 
6. So says the blue lyrics book. However, MES seems to sing "living brochures." Ben G hears "Living brochures for brown units," i.e. walking beer ads.
7. This line is enunciated fairly clearly as "Destroy the facilities!" and numerous live versions confirm it, but the blue lyrics book has "Let's swell the facilities!"



Comments (65)

  • 1. DamianK | 23/06/2013

There is a football writer called Pat McGatt in the Manchester area. I'd never heard of him hut when I (mis) quoted the line to someone local they recognised the name straight away.

  • 2. dannyno | 14/07/2013

I've been back through a newspaper database and the only McGatt I can find anywhere is someone called "Pat McGatt" writing a letter to the Daily Star in 2009. Looks like a pseudonym to me!

  • 3. dannyno | 14/07/2013

And there's someone on using the same name.

  • 4. Graving | 02/10/2013

"The Marble Halls" refers to Arsenal's old Highbury ground

Arsenal at the time were renowned for winning by 1-0 with really dull football, devoid of flair. In 1914 they negotiated their way into the then first division despite finishing below the promotion places the season before which is possibly what 'charm school alludes to.

  • 5. dannyno | 11/01/2014

The text here originally seems to be based on the orange lyrics book. I think it's wrong in several key respects, according to the evidence of my own ears.

For a start "Kicker, kicker conspiracy" actually sounds like "Kicker, kick conspiracy" throughout. MES may be swallowing the "er" bit, I suppose, but I'm hearing "kick".

  • 6. dannyno | 11/01/2014

Graving: Excellent observation on "Marble Halls".

But I'm unconvinced by the "charm school" explanation. The line is "In the marble halls of the charm school/How flair is punished". And then you have "Marble Millichip". So is "Marble Millichip" a kind of punning callback to "marble halls", or is "marble halls" intended to refer to Millichip? Is the FA the Charm School?

  • 7. dannyno | 11/01/2014

"Former fan at the bus stop.
Treads on the ball at his feet, in the christmas rush.
And in his hands, two lager cans"

I hear:

"Football fan at the bus stop
Treads on the balls of his feet, in the Christmas rush
Had in his hands two larger cans"


"What are the implications of the club unit?"

That's not it, it's something else. Can't quite get what, though.

Also, "McGatt" sounds more like "McCatt".

  • 8. dannyno | 11/01/2014

How flair is punished
Kicker, Kicker Conspiracy "

"How fair is punished" is not sung at that point

  • 9. bzfgt | 22/01/2014

Danny, I think he swallows it, and I detect the "-er" at times...I swear I do. Other times it's omitted.

  • 10. bzfgt | 22/01/2014

Danny, I also think "treads" is something else...maybe I'll decipher it with a few more listens, but probably not.

  • 11. bzfgt | 22/01/2014

I definitely hear "two lager cans, not "larger."

I can also see how I used to leave the Lyrics Parade punctuation intact...awful.

  • 12. bzfgt | 22/01/2014

Thanks for that, Damian, but it isn't enough....there should be some record of the guy's existence.

  • 13. bzfgt | 22/01/2014

Note the changes, Danny...I've got "pavement." It's nowhere near "What are the implications".

  • 14. dannyno | 22/01/2014

Lager/larger - yeah, typo by me, it's "lager"

  • 15. Tam | 08/04/2014

I'm certain I hear

How style is punished
. Although he does seem to grunt a vowel just before.

  • 16. bzfgt | 08/04/2014

Yes, I think so.

Joseph Mullaney
  • 17. Joseph Mullaney | 11/04/2014

Re. note 2: Jimmy Hill is most famous in the UK as a former pundit on Match of the Day, the flagship football programme on BBC television. Hill is well-known for his strong and informed views on football tactics and the game in general.

  • 18. bzfgt | 15/04/2014

Thanks, Joseph!

  • 19. dannyno | 12/06/2014

"Hat in his hands, two lager cans"

I think this led Dave Simpson astray.

Isn't it "Had in his hands..."?


  • 20. bzfgt | 12/06/2014

I think so, but I'm checking now. T.L.B. is right that it makes much more sense, so if it's borderline even I'll change it...

  • 21. dannyno | 21/07/2014

Some apparent mishearings can be found in the Sinister Times "newspaper". It has "McGatt" and "And in his hands", "booze club" not "blues club".

  • 22. dannyno | 28/09/2014

From Uncut magazine, October 2003:

"It's about English soccer violence being triggered off by rubbish management and frustration that the game's been taken away from its support, that the English game is so boring there's nothing else to do. I remember thinking at the time that if Maradonna had been born in Manchester he'd've been lucky to get a game with a local pub team, being cheeky, overweight, small and sweaty. It coincided with me not going any more due to muscle-bound teams, expensive tickets and that, so there's an element of sadness too."

Raging Ostler
  • 23. Raging Ostler | 25/01/2015

Worth pointing out re. Jimmy Hill, he was one of the most unpopular men in English football for years because of his prissy, condescending style as a TV pundit. Seriously, no British football fan had any time for him at all. Despite good work he did in his time at the PFA, by the 70s he was very much the face of the football establishment, universally loathed by supporters. And his famous long pointed chin and black beard did give him a Satanic air.

russell richardson
  • 24. russell richardson | 18/05/2015

and Jimmy Hill, though definitely he knew his football, once committed an unforgivable sin: on the last day of the season, when his Coventry team were in serious trouble of relegation, he relayed the result of a rival team who had just lost, and Coventry played out the remainder of the game 'by agreement' settling for a draw, not a possible desperate attempt resulting in a defeat, and stayed up. The other team, of course, went down. By using his privileged information (as a TV correspondent) he thus altered (strong potential) the outcome of a season. This was not well taken across the board. Can someone else please work out which season that was.... 72? 74?
Millichip and the old boy network which ran the FA, also controlled the selection of the England team, rigorously excluding flair (which the English pretty much lacked, anyway). 74 and 78 England didn't even qualify for the World Cups! A disgrace as we had a lot of great players who just couldn;t get into the national team. Now (2015) it's also come out that a little later (1990) the England manager was actually told by the FA not to 'unbalance' the team by putting in 'too many' black players. In a very real sense, football is/was Politics made palpable.

Paul G
  • 25. Paul G | 08/08/2015

I thought that J.Hill's satanic reign was followed by:

'Is slicker than Keegan's team.'

Kevin Keegan's last game for England was at the World Cup of 1982. Not sure how this would fit with the song-writing timeline.

Michael F
  • 26. Michael F | 19/08/2015

]I hear 'pat ma cat' I think it's a joke Irish name popular at the time (like Phil ma cavity).
Great work guys btw you've answered a few things I've been wondering about for 30 odd years.

  • 27. bFgt | 25/08/2015

Paul, I still think it's "ass-lickers," and the 's' is clear at the end. I sort of split the difference.

  • 28. bzfgt | 25/08/2015

Thanks, Michael, your comment has tipped the scales for the more phonetically evident "McCatt," although we've had to contradict an official lyrics book to do it.

Paul G
  • 29. Paul G | 31/10/2015

Re 27 - thanks bFgt - my memory clearly playing tricks!

Possibly "Arse-lickers" versus "Are slick as" - happy to go with your call on it.

Andy H
  • 30. Andy H | 11/06/2016

First up - what a brilliant resource this, I've learned such a lot. Thank you so much for what you've done here.
Just wonder, on that last line I hear "Destroy the facilities". I've checked with various live versions, it seems the same in every one. It's one of my favourite lines, and a good pay off to the song. What do you think?

  • 31. dannyno | 22/06/2016

russell richardson: it was the 1976-77 season, according to:


  • 32. bzfgt | 29/06/2016


1. Thanks for reading, and contributing.

2. Yes, I checked some live versions and I hear it too, but I don't make that out on the PBL version, so I'll add it as a note.

  • 33. bzfgt | 29/06/2016

Yes, never mind, my lyrics have it before the last "Kicker conspiracy," but as "Swell the facility." That HAS to be wrong, and I don't want to listen again, so I'll change it to "destroy, etc." as that's definitely what he says on the live ones. Thanks, good catch.

  • 34. bzfgt | 29/06/2016

Ah ha, the plot thickens; the blue lyrics book has "let's swell the facilities," but now that I had to listen to it, it's clearly "destroy" that he says. Damn it, more work for me!

  • 35. Martin | 02/07/2016

The references to Jimmy Hill can now be put in the past tense as he died in 2015

  • 36. Martin | 02/07/2016

This is one of those Fall songs where the studio version lyrics are completely (or almost completely) in place from the very first live performance, which is in this case at Leeds on 16 January 1983. And "Destroy the facilities!" are very much the words sung by MES.

  • 37. Martin | 02/07/2016

Right, various comments to make about the lyrics as reproduced here, as I believe there have been some mislistenings over the years. I'm going on both the studio version and various live versions I've been listening to:

1) "Corporate-u-lent": the "lent" bit doesn't sound like this to me, but I don't know what it does sound like, if you get my drift.

2) "In the Blues Club, George Best does rule": the blue lyrics book has "booze club" and this is what I hear too. Manchester City are known (among other nicknames) as the Blues, so why should their supporters, given the rivalry in the city, revere the Irishman? And George Best was known for his liking for alcohol (indeed he died of an alcohol-related disease) so the logic would seem to fit in this case.

3) "Former fan at the bus stop": "football fan", surely. This is what I hear and it makes more sense as well.

4) "But in the pavement of the club unit": I think that instead of "in the pavement" I hear "in occasions" (gramatically, of course, it should be "on occasions" but I'm just putting my theory out there, as it were).

5) "Lurid brochures for ground unit": doesn't sound like "lurid" to me, but something more akin to "living". Which doesn't convince me either, but this is where others can maybe lend a hand...

  • 38. dannyno | 02/07/2016

1. I still hear "lent", but it could possibly be "late" to rhyme with "magnate". Though quite you would do that, I don't know. I tend to take it as an exaggerated and punning pronunciation of "corpulent".

2. Tricky. I always here "blues", and I took it that this was a reference to a blues-type bar - blues as in music rather than football. But because "blues" has a football meaning, that might be an argument for it not being that.

3.Definitely "football"

4. I've got "But implications". Which doesn't seem very likely.

5. Another difficult one. Could be livid. I have lurid in the concordance at the moment.

  • 39. bzfgt | 15/07/2016

Well that's weird, I just copied what the Lyrics Parade had, but the blue book has "booze club" as it happens. Nobody's singing the "blues" then. And Pat "MacGatt," although I was talked into "McCatt" a while back there.

  • 40. bzfgt | 15/07/2016

OK, when I changed it to McCatt I see I noted that the lyrics book has McGatt. But tonight I felt uneasy and changed one of them to McGatt, which is probably unacceptable long term. But my reasoning is 1. the lyrics book, and 2. I've seen it quoted numerous times on the FOF as "McGatt," that seems to be in the popular consciousness, and I am unsure whether to go against all that or not. I don't know that I would leave it that way long term, but it needs a little pondering, I think.

  • 41. bzfgt | 15/07/2016

This one's a mess and I can't even process all the soccer information. One day I will pay a lot of attention to straightening this out and seriously consider all the comments above, but for now they are all recorded down here where they'll be read anyway.

  • 42. --MC | 17/11/2016

I always imagined the "marble Millichip" reference was imagining the FA meeting under a heroic statue of the man.

  • 43. bzfgt | 24/11/2016

Yeah could be --MC, I have a vague idea it's something like that, with a kind of pun on "--chip." This one overwhelms me, I don't know how to sort through everything in the comments so I just let it all live down here...

  • 44. dannyno | 23/01/2017

I'll buy that - the image of a self-aggrandizing football administrator's statue looming over meetings of the FA feels just right in context. --MC's interpretation seems to make some sense of the line.

  • 45. dannyno | 23/01/2017

I've been worrying away at these lines:

"In the marble halls of the charm school
How flair is punished"

... which surely must refer to something or other in the real world.

So here's one my famous over-thought ideas.

The debut of this song was January 1983.

In September 1982, BBC1 broadcast a documentary fronted by Barry Norman titled "The Rank Charm School". This was the name given by a journalist to the J.Arthur Rank organisation's training centre for budding film stars from 1945-1951. It's formal name was "The Company of Youth" It was supposed to replicate Hollywood's studio system, but young actors assigned to it were exploited to turn up at garden parties, grand openings etc. It is widely judge to have been a waste of time.

Might there have been a soccer/FA equivalent of this? Did The Company of Youth punish flair just as the football establishment did? Did MES take the lines from the documentary?

  • 46. bzfgt | 04/02/2017

OK, I just listened to a live version where it is so blindingly clear that it is "Pat McCatt" that the vestigial 'G' can no longer stand. So, the last "McGatt" has been purged from the lyric. For "McGatt" aficionados, he survives in a note, but alas, there is no place for him in the lyrics anymore. We must all be prepared to change with the times...

  • 47. Martin | 07/02/2017

The question of flair being punished surely derives from the way that certain English footballers in the 1970s, players such as Tony Currie, Stan Bowles, Duncan McKenzie and others were not picked for the national team as often as some fans would have wanted due to them not fitting the establishment standards of hard work and discipline. Mavericks were not wanted in the teams and one result of this (in my opinion) was the steady decline of the England football team in this era.

  • 48. dannyno | 20/02/2017

Martin #47. I think that has to be the right interpretation. But given the existence of the movie industry "charm school", the subject of a contemporary documentary, I was wondering if MES is linking football to nascent exploited film stars.

  • 49. bzfgt | 25/02/2017

Sorry, I may justly be accused of dropping the ball on this one; all this soccer talk makes my head spin and rather than trying to sort it all out, I just let most of it live in the comments down here...

Ben G
  • 50. Ben G | 17/05/2017

''Lurid brochures for ground unit'....I always thought this was 'Living brochures for brown units.' Meaning - beer companies sponsoring teams so that with their logos on the players shirts, so that they literally become 'Living brochures' for 'Brown units' (ie. pints of beer.) The point seemed to be underscored in the video when these specific lyrics were emphasised with a quickly flashed series of adverts in the ground, which included beer adverts.

  • 51. bzfgt (link) | 18/05/2017

It's definitely "living," not lurid. The lyrics book has it as above, though.

  • 52. bzfgt (link) | 18/05/2017

I added a note.

  • 53. Robert | 21/05/2017

"But in the pavement of the club unit" ... I'm hearing "But in occasions of the club unit" on the studio and live versions. Not that it makes any more sense.

  • 54. dannyno | 23/05/2017

"But in the pavement of the club unit"

I've listened to some live versions too, and I'm hearing it very clearly as "Modifications on the club unit". I'm in no doubt that that's right.

  • 55. dannyno | 23/05/2017

"Lurid brochures for ground unit "

Nnng. I've not quite hearing it so clearly as "living" myself. Could be "lurid", which makes sense. Could be "Livid" which would be more poetic.

  • 56. dannyno | 23/05/2017

From The Guardian, 9 July 1981:

City plan new-look Maine Road

The Manchester City chairman, Peter Swales, yesterday announced plans for £3 million worth of improvements at Maine Road to be completed within two years.

Work will start immediately after next season on a new cantilever roof for the main stand, and the following year City will build 36 executive boxes and improve facilities for the media. The boxes, which will seat eight people each, will cost £15,000 for three years.

Mr Swales also revealed a model of a completely renovated Maine Road sporting new roofs all the way round...


  • 57. dannyno | 23/05/2017

His downfall was a blonde girl,
but that's none of your business!

I've always assumed this was about George Best, but of course his downfall wasn't actually a blonde girl.

However, in February 1983, a month after the live debut of this song (were the lyrics intact?), Manchester City manager John Bond resigned, with everyone being very tight-lipped. It was then revealed that he had had a year-long affair with a 35-year-old divorcee called Margaret Doodson, who worked at the club and seems to have been promptly suspended. It was denied that this was the reason Bond resigned.

Not that football was short of such scandals (Peter Shilton was involved in a car crash with a married nursing auxiliary in 1980), but this one is pleasingly close to home for MES. But the timeline might not work out, and it might be entirely irrelevant.

  • 58. dannyno | 24/05/2017

Oh, and Peter Swales' 1980s redevelopment plans never got any further than the roof.

  • 59. Martin | 24/05/2017


"I've always assumed this was about George Best, but of course his downfall wasn't actually a blonde girl.

However, in February 1983, a month after the live debut of this song (were the lyrics intact?), Manchester City manager John Bond resigned, with everyone being very tight-lipped"

The "blonde" reference was indeed there in the debut performance of the song.

  • 60. dannyno | 24/05/2017


  • 61. Hexen | 25/05/2017

It's definitely arse-lickers not ass-lickers.
I'm hearing football fan rather than former fan as well.
Upvote for Living brochures for brown units

  • 62. bzfgt (link) | 27/05/2017

Fuck, I hate this one. I just want it to die and never have to amend it again.

  • 63. bzfgt (link) | 27/05/2017

Sounds like "pavement" on PBL to me still...

  • 64. bzfgt (link) | 27/05/2017

I want to just have one note which says "See comments." All this soccer shit just makes my head swim, I can hardly follow it. It's making me hate the song even.

  • 65. dannyno | 25/06/2017


The sleevenotes for "Perverted by Language" render this word as: "CORPORATE-ULENT", with an asterisked footnote to this:

'Corporateulent' is a copy-right Fall Music Publishers

Add a comment

You're using an AdBlock like software. Disable it to allow submit.