Theme From Sparta F.C.

Lyrics

(1)

Come on I will show you how I will change
When you give me something to slaughter
Shepherd boy (Hey!)
Everybody sing (Hey!)
Better act quick (Hey!)

Be my toy
Come on have a bet
We live on blood
We are Sparta F.C.

[
Phonetic Transcription of vocal by Eleni]:

Ella Na Soo Thixo
Poso tha alaxo
Otan tha moo thosis
Kati na sfaxo
Ella valeh stihima
Yia na kerthiso
Afto then ineh pimma
Yia ta skoopithia.   (2)

I don't have a jack knife it went up the hill
I don't know if i'll get it back
But by hook or by crook I will (3)
Hey! Hey!

Be my toy
Come on have a bet
We live on blood
We are Sparta F.C.

Hey! Hey!

We have to pay for everything (Hey!)
But some things are for free (Hey!)
We live on blood (Hey!)
We are Sparta F.C. (Hey!)
English Chelsea fan this is your last game (Hey!)
We're not Galatasaray, we're Sparta F.C. (Hey!) (4)

[background vocal by Elena] 

And take your fleecy jumper you won't need it anymore
It is in the car boot moving away
'Cause where you are going clothes won't help
Stay at home with TV set

Be my toy
Come on have a bet
We live on blood
We are Sparta F.C.

Cheap English man in the paper shop
You mug old women in your bobble hat  (5)
Better go spot a place to rest
No more ground boutique at match in Chelsea (6)
We are Sparta F.C.

Come on have a bet
We live on blood
We are Sparta F.C.

Hey! Hey!

Shepherd boy (Hey!)
Everybody sing (Hey!)
Better act quick (Hey!)
Be my toy (Hey!)
Come on have a bet (Hey!)
So I can win (Hey!)
This is not a poem (Hey!)
For the bin (Hey!)
I don't have a jack knife (Hey!)
It went up the hill (Hey!)
I don't know if I'll get it back (Hey!)
By hook or crook I will (Hey!)
English Chelsea fan (Hey!)
This is your last game (Hey!)
We're not Galatasary (Hey!)
We're Sparta F.C. (Hey!)

Sparta!

Notes


1. Reformation reproduces some remarks from MES, and here is the portion that deals with the lyrics:

Elena came up with some great words and I added some words I thought were like the Greek football fans' attitude, you know. I do know quite a few Greek football fans, and their attitude to soccer is completely different to Britain. Sort of cobbled it all together, put a Greek motif on the guitar and that was it.

MES is brilliant on this one, sounding like a deranged and drunken foreigner with a less-then-perfect grasp of English (see note 3 below); while MES doesn't exactly put an accent on, he manages to hint at one, pulling up short, however, of turning the song into a novelty number. Like every other Fall anthem, it refuses to allow the listener to fully identify with the narrator, but in the case of this one it's easy to forget that while the compellingly energetic music is playing. 

The modern-day municipality of Sparta (or Sparti) occupies the site of the famed ancient Greek polis of that name. There are three football clubs in Laconia, the region that contains Sparta, but none of them are in Sparta. There is a Czech and a Norwegian football club with Sparta in the name, but, as MES indicates above that the song is about Greek football fans, clearly Sparta F.C. is fictional. 

The Fall recorded a few versions of this, starting with a Peel session and then putting it on the leaked-but-not-released Ur-text Country on the Click, but the Real New Fall L.P. rendition is the one they got perfect; MES manages to pour all his slurry decadence into an even more slurry and decadent character, and the band rises to the occasion by doing just enough and not trying to do too much. 

^

2. These transcribed lyrics come from the Lyrics Parade, which also helpfully includes a translation:

Come and I will show you
How I will change
When you give me
Something to slaughter
Come and have a bet
So I can win
This is not a poem
For the bin.

I can't vouch for the translation or even the transcription (if the same Greek speaker who translated it transcribed it, that would inspire confidence, but I have no idea if this is the case). The above lyrics all appear in English in the song, however, which bodes well for their veracity. 

^

3. The lyrics (which perhaps allude to Jack and Jill, as Graving points out in the notes) verge on rambling nonsense here; this could be an indication of the drunkenness and the less than perfect command of English of the narrator. Of course, MES has never shied away from rambling nonsense himself, but the nonsense here seems to belong to the character more so than the lyricist. His speech is mostly correct, if sometimes unconcerned with the definite article ("No more ground boutique at match in Chelsea"), but just skewed enough to give one a sense that English is not his native tongue, and his reasoning is filled with contradictions: along with "I don't know if I'll get it back/But by hook or crook I will," we hear "You have to pay for everything but some things are for free," and the hilariously garbled "Take your fleecy jumper, you won't need it anymore/It is in the car boot moving away/'Cause where you're going, clothes won't help/ Stay at home with TV set."

^

4. Galatasaray S.K. is a Turkish football club and would presumably be hated by the Greek hoodlum narrating the song. According to blazenstruik:

MES references Galatasaray, specifically, for a reason - going there in the 1990s was not a pleasant experience. I think this song was written shortly after a Leeds fan was stabbed to death before a match there. Manchester United had some interesting games against Galatasaray at the time too.

^

5. Paper shop=newsagent or newsstand. The bobble hat, a knit cap or tuque with a fuzzy ball on top, is a favored accessory with older English football fans, if Wikipedia is to be believed. 

^

6. Blazenstruik addresses the alleged foofiness of Chelsea:

Chelsea - this was the era when Ken Bates owned the club, and was making determined efforts to attract more upmarket, middle-class fans (thus "ground boutiques" and "where you are going clothes won't count"). Presumably this did not go down too well with MES, although ironically Bates as a character has much in common with MES.

^

Comments (13)

Graving
  • 1. Graving | 02/10/2013
re note 3.

It references Jack & Jill - an old English nursery rhyme
blazenstruik
  • 2. blazenstruik | 27/06/2014
MES references Galatasaray, specifically, for a reason - going there in the 1990s was not a pleasant experience. I think this song was written shortly after a Leeds fan was stabbed to death before a match there. Manchester United had some interesting games against Galatasaray at the time too - see http://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2012/sep/19/forgotten-story-manchester-united-galatasaray
blazenstruik
  • 3. blazenstruik | 27/06/2014
Chelsea - this was the era when Ken Bates owned the club, and was making determined efforts to attract more upmarket, middle-class fans (thus "ground boutiques" and "where you are going clothes won't count"). Presumably this did not go down too well with MES, although ironically Bates as a character has much in common with MES.
Jamie
  • 4. Jamie | 12/01/2015
"Paper shop" is a name for a newsagent's - paper is short for newspaper. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newsagent%27s_shop#United_Kingdom
bzfgt
  • 5. bzfgt | 31/01/2015
Yeah, I guess I thought that was evident...sometimes I don't realize when something wants explaining.
dannyno
  • 6. dannyno | 06/02/2015
Galatasaray.

Two Leeds fans were stabbed to death by Galatasaray fans in April 2000 during the UEFA cup competition that year, which took place in Turkey. Galatasaray are based in Istanbul, which is also where the stabbings took place. Galatasaray is not really a place like Leeds is a place. Maybe at most it represents a district of Istanbul.

Anyway, the song is perhaps therefore a bit less topical than blazenstruik is suggesting. But it's a name that has a resonance, so maybe it was used because of that.
Rich
  • 7. Rich | 22/02/2016
I always thought it was "come on have a bit" as in "have a go if you think you're hard enough" which makes sense if you consider the next line, "we live on blood."
Antoine
  • 8. Antoine | 02/03/2016
The expression "by hook or by crook" is similarly presented in the TV show The Prisoner:

Number Six: Whose side are you on?
Number Two: That would be telling. We want information… information… information.
Number Six: You won't get it.
Number Two: By hook or by crook, we will.

Clip here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zalndXdxriI

He's referenced the program on a few occasions, including one of those early letters to Tony Friel typed on the back of a shipping form.

Additionally, other introductions to The Prisoner include the lines "The mountain will come to Mohammed," "Everest, I presume" and "I've never had a head for heights" - relating to "It went up the hill" perhaps?
bzfgt
  • 9. bzfgt | 19/03/2016
Right, is that a rare saying in England? It's so common here I wouldn't feel confident associating it with any particular source...
dannyno
  • 10. dannyno | 07/11/2016
"By hook or by crook".

It's not that rare a phrase, no, although given the context I think The Prisoner theory is not implausible. Antoine cites other lines which seem way less plausible to me.
Zack
  • 11. Zack | 22/01/2017
Re: different versions of "Sparta"-

1. Peel Session version
2. Country on the Click version - more electronic; swirly synths - also used in the official music video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQ-lsCkvbOs).
3. UK album version - somewhat less electronic, with different lyrics chanted at the end.
4. US album/single version ("Theme from Sparta F.C. #2") - completely re-recorded; more rockin'.
5. Interim version ("Sparta FC No. 3") - a rough & tumble rehearsal or live recording.
dannyno
  • 12. dannyno | 14/04/2017
"take your fleecy jumper "

Part of me wants to see this as an allusion to the Golden Fleece in the Jason and the Argonauts myth.
bzfgt
  • 13. bzfgt (link) | 13/05/2017
Yeah, that may be so. Or the fleece that Gideon laid out for the Lord to prove his ID...

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