The Marching On Together Story

WHEN Andy Sturdevant saw The Damned United film a couple of years ago, he liked the theme song so much he adapted its lyrics for his city’s baseball side, the Minnesota Twins, and performed it on his local radio show.

When Sam Utne heard about Sturdevant’s version last year, he started to record his pals singing it on Skype and slapped the consequential cacophony onto YouTube in the nick of time for the opening day of the Twins’ 2012 season.

What these Minnesotans were meddling with was Marching On Together. I recently chatted to sock tag-inventing artist Paul Trevillion for The Square Ball magazine about how the anthemic sound of Leeds, Leeds, Leeds – to give the B-side to the top ten hit Leeds United its proper name – came into being. Days before Don Revie’s men beat Birmingham City in the 1972 FA Cup Semi Final, Trevillion takes up the tale.

“I said to Don, ‘We’ll have to get a song. Is there anybody you’d like to sing it?’ He replied, ‘Yes, Tom Jones.’ I said, ‘We won’t get Tom Jones!’ ‘Get the guy who writes his songs then,’ he insisted. ‘The guy who wrote Delilah, The Last Waltz, come on!’ ‘That’s Les Reed and Barry Mason,’ I replied. ‘They don’t do football records, Don!’ ‘You want the boys to wear your stocking tags?’ he said, ‘But you’re telling me you can’t get him to do our record? Go get him.’

“So I found out where Les Reed lived and I went round. I got there at eight o’clock in the morning and rang the bell. Nothing happened. I waited another hour and I rang it again, and there was no answer. I kept pressing the bell, and in the end it was about one o’clock in the afternoon and he answered the door and said, ‘What do you want? I’ll give you just a minute, that’s all. 60 seconds.’ ‘I want you to do the Leeds United song,’ I said. He burst out laughing, saying ‘You’re kidding.’ ‘No,’ I insisted. ‘We’re gonna bring it out in time for the Cup Semi Final. Are you on?’

“He said ‘Come in. I’ll get Barry over.’ Barry Mason arrived and asked, ‘How do you want it?’ ‘There’s a number in Robin Hood with Errol Flynn,’ I told him. ‘It won an Oscar, it’s the greatest music I’ve ever heard. Can we have it like that?’ And Barry started banging on the table, saying ‘How about: Here we go with Leeds United! We love you Leeds! Leeds! Leeds!’ I said, ‘Get the beat from Robin Hood, get that sound!’ and they were on for it.

“I couldn’t believe it, we got the record out for the Birmingham game. The bloody Birmingham game, the Semi Final, not for the Final! It got to number ten, for goodness sake! Above all the great stars who were around – the Elvis Presleys and the Tom Joneses and all of it – and it’s still a belter, and Leeds still do it.”

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