Fans have always had tongue in cheek songs for the players that were not A list or Category A to use a pricing theme over the years.
Willie ! Willie ! – for Willie Young.!
Whoops a daisy it’s Martin Hayes-ee! ( I’d like to know who started that one!)
But,the Perry Groves World is one that took off, and its popularity remains today, being sung at both home and away games on a regular basis.
So, where and when did it emerge? All can be revealed!
I’ll take you back to the 1980s and the English club ban from Europe following Heysel – the current 20 somethings are blessed with the European way trips every year whilst the 20 somethings of the mid 80s had that door slammed shut in our faces. It looks now a strange quirk that whilst the clubs were banned, the international team carried on, so the England fans still had their away trips (anyway, I digress)!
Others looked to Celtic or Rangers as an outlet for their wanderlust! For some of my Arsenal mates and myself, we of the London Irish parish of the broad Arsenal church did Ireland away trips in Europe during the interlull!
For those who have donned the international cap, a degree of decorum is required what when meeting your fellow country fans because they are not all Arsenal! But, what tended to happen at least in my experience is you left your club allegiances at the bar door and shared the commonality of away trips, away grounds, policing etc. We got on well with a number of cockney reds of Irish descent! Shock horror now regarding fraternising with Man United fans, but the Man United of the late 80s was not the one of today ,although they seem to be moving back that way!
These were good lads, proper football fans, not like the current breed. They knew their football history and called our North Bank the Laundry End! (They were right!)
At the end of an evenings drinking a few club songs would break the general neutral détente! But nothing too controversial! We sang in praise of the AFC and they matched this with a the sing a long pf “we all live in a Georgy Best world!” – A late 60s song. (City sang a version to a Colin Bell world! They went through the numbers, but when it came to no 7, they sang in praise of their captain Bryan (man of the match) Robson!
The song was a catchy and uplifting football song! My mate (who shall remain nameless) in an inspired drink fuelled moment of clarity thought of a take the piss response version.
Perry Groves, who was a fan, who gave his all. As a player, Groves was never going to be a Georgy Best in terms of ability, but more than a Best in terms of loyalty, so was sung in response! We sang it in fake Manc accents and we were of the vintage that Liam Brady just had to be No 7!!
The song was a hit in pubs on the Ireland way trips! In terms of Arsenal games, we were still of that age and clique that considered singing was for the barmys other than “Be Jesus said Paddy!”
It took until May 1991 for the song to debut when we were in the Bank Of Friendship on the day that Liverpool got beat by Nottingham Forest to give us the 1991 league title before we played Man United later that evening. Thinking back on it, it was due to the occasion one rare time when all my AFC gang including the London Irish away trip ones were together!
We debuted the Perry Groves song to the pub as the drink and champagne flowed! It went down a treat. We continued on the celebrations the following Saturday when we had the Championship presentation after hammering Coventry 6-1!! We sang the song in more pubs and heard the song echo elsewhere!!!
Songs are often established on away trips! I have read before that the song was heard first at Vienna away in the European Cup the following autumn. Possibly! The song was on the fans singlist by then and none of my gang were in Vienna. I heard it first at a match at the away game after our FA Cup disaster at Wrexham. We were at QPR away, me and a mate (who would always turn up following a bad defeat to show his support). Perry was warming up on the touch line and our way support sung Perry Groves World!
The song is still sung today. Although the “Liam Brady no 7” is forgotten by the present generation rather like the old Sicilian guy in The Godfather 2 trying to get a young wedding band to remember an old Sicilian tune!
As an aside to my older ears, all football songs are now sung too fast or in the case of the new Flamini song, out of tune Mrs Robinson!
“All together now
Number 1 is Perry Groves!
Number 2 is Perry Groves!
Number 3 is Perry Groves!
Number 4 is Perry Groves!
Number 5 is Perry Groves!
Number 6 is Perry Groves!
Number 7 is Liam Brady!
Number 8 is Perry Groves!
Number 9 is Perry Groves!
Number 10 is Perry Groves!
Number 11 is Perry Groves!
Number 12 is Perry Groves!
(all together now!)
We all live in a Perry Groves world
A Perry Groves world, a Perry Groves world!”