"There Were 10 German Bombers in the Air" German Fans Trying to Rival English Chanting
German football fans, electrified by a new sense of national pride and the success of their team in the World Cup so far, have been taking on the world's best football chanters -- England supporters -- and they're getting close, at least in terms of volume. The lyrics still fall short, however.
On Tuesday, the supporters of European football's most traditional rivals, England and Germany, staged impromptu chanting competitions in the center of Cologne, packed with tens of thousands of England fans in the city for the Group B match against Sweden.
To the visible surprise of England fans, the Germans held their own, although they still need to work on the lyrics, the best effort being "Football's Going Home", a simple but effective variation of the 10-year-old English classic "Football's Coming Home".
Other less imaginative favorites are "Deutschland Deutschland" and "Finale Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh!", "You Can Go Home", and "We're Heading For Berlin Without England" -- the World Cup final is being played in Berlin on July 9.
It seems that German fans, exhilarated by their team's three victories in the tournament so far, are sick of being drowned out on their home turf by roaring Brits. The World Cup has led to an outburst of pent-up German patriotism, stifled by guilt for 60 years.
Germans are already rivalling England in flag-waving and face painting. But England fans still have the edge in the fine art of taunting their opponents through football chants and songs, a tradition honed in their domestic football leagues.
One of the more amusing English offerings is "Five - One, Even Heskey Scored", in reference to England's stunning victory over Germany on September 1, 2001, in Munich, in which striker Emile Heskey, whose skills appear to be the subject of debate, scored the last goal. Not part of the current England squad, Heskey scored 5 goals in his 43 matches for England.
Another favourite is "Sing When You're Winning, You Only Sing When You're Winning" to the tune of "Guantanamera". They have a point. German fans have only recently been turning up the volume with each victory for their team. England fans have been deafening from the very beginning of the tournament.
Nazi era still dominates British view of Germans
As Britain's popular view of Germany remains colored by World War Two -- an obsession which exasperates Germans -- English references to the war abound whenever they meet. Dozens have come to Germany with World War II-era British army helmets, and some have been running around holding up inflatable Spitfires.
They have been sticking to appeals from the British government and the Football Association to refrain from making Nazi salutes, goose-stepping and imitating Hitler, but they haven't managed to ditch the song "Ten German Bombers" whose lyrics are likely to make British diplomats wince.
Set to the tune of "She'll Be Coming Round The Mountain", it goes: "There Were Ten German Bombers in the Air", repeated ad nauseam until the second verse kicks in with "And the RAF From England Shot One Down."
The singers usually have their arms outstretched like Spitfire wings and if they're drunk enough, they'll keep on singing until there are no German bombers in the air, as happened in Cologne on Tuesday.
Their repertoire also includes the tune to World War Two movie "The Great Escape". The age-old chant "Two World Wars and World Cup" is passe and no longer heard, neither is the theme to "The Dambusters."
German police, Britain's Foreign Office, the teams and probably the fans themselves will be relieved that Germany will not be facing England in the first match of the knock-out phase this weekend -- a possibility if England had lost to Sweden instead of drawing 2-2. Now they could only meet if both make it to the final.
Matches between the two are always fraught with national rivalry compounded by memories of classic clashes over the last four decades.
Mention 1966 in Germany and everyone will inform you that the third England goal -- a slammer against the cross bar which bounced down, didn't go in. Mention that it doesn't matter because England went on to score a fourth goal in their 4-2 victory that clinched them the World Cup, and you get told that they wouldn't have scored the fourth goal if the third one had been disallowed.
Since then, World Cup and European Championship encounters have gone Germany's way, several times in agonising penalty shootouts. Since their first match in 1930, they have played each other 25 times counting matches against the West German team. England has won 11 times, lost 9 and there have been 5 draws.