Studio 2 at Abbey Road; the place where The Beatles recorded almost all of their songs. I've been outside there many times but this afternoon I was welcomed inside as the representative of Sunderland AFC's fans to take part in the recording of a World Cup song called 'We're England Underneath'. It's going to be launched on 24th April and all proceeds will go towards the charity Kick4Life. To be honest, I'm not that bothered about the England team, though my interest would be markedly raised by the inclusion of Darren Bent in the squad, but the opportunity of getting into Abbey Road and helping a good cause along the way wasn't one to be missed. Every club was to be represented and I don't know why I was selected, maybe nobody else in the London Branch was interested, but I wasn't going to argue and all I had to do was turn up this afternoon around 1.30 wearing my Sunderland shirt.
After signing some paperwork and a bit of chat with fellow fans we were led down to the cafeteria and I was delighted to see there were alcoholic beverages on sale. I got talking to a couple of lads representing Port Vale and Barnsley and we swapped football tales while slurping a beer or two till we were summoned up to Studio 2. It's a huge place and can accommodate an orchestra. We were seated on four rows and I stuck with my two new pals as the conductor briefed us all on what we had to do. The music track had already been recorded and the composer, Thomas Spencer-Wortley, had laid down a guide vocal, in his kitchen apparently. We were scheduled to spend an hour rehearsing between 3 and 4 p.m. but we managed to get about half of the song recorded in that time. It wasn't too difficult as a lot of it consisted of chants along the lines of, “OH-WHA-OH-OH!” and the like. My voice is maybe the worst thing you've heard since the cats' home burnt down but it was subsumed into the general uproar and the acoustics in there were of course first class.
We were given twenty minutes break and I was pleased to maintain a noble tradition of being first to the bar. And why not? At £2.90 for a pint of Kronenbourg, it was 60p cheaper than most places I frequent. Maybe I should start hanging out there more regularly, though the security is pretty tight. The mood among the fans was great and it was nice to meet folks from clubs that I've never met, and hopefully will never meet barring cup games. I didn't recognize a lot of the shirts and I discovered that Lincoln also play in red and white stripes. I was a bit wary beforehand that they'd try to make a big love-fest out of it and have me singing alongside a Newcastle fan while we weaved flowers in each other's hair but it didn't turn out like that at all. In fact I couldn't see a Newcastle fan anywhere but their mascot was among the ten or so represented. What resembled a very large sex-toy turned out to be Harry (maybe Freddy) the Shrimp, the mascot of Southend. I mentioned to the lad at my side that Sunderland loanee Jean Yves Mvoto was currently at Southend and he suggested that Harry the Shrimp was perhaps him. The second session went very well too, and no doubt a few ales had helped, so that we were all done and dusted by 5.15 and not the projected 6.30. The whole thing was very well filmed and photographed, and after the recording had finished we had a sing through for the benefit of Sky T.V.
It was a very enjoyable afternoon and I doubt if I'll have the chance to repeat it so I'm still buzzing as I write this. These days when some people are trying to portray we football supporters as a bunch of moronic thugs, a diverse group of a hundred fans of all ages gave up a day's wages to help a good cause while having a great time too. As I left the studio I passed a group of mascots being photographed on the zebra crossing and a young girl in a tourist coach knocked on the window and waved at me. It was that kind of afternoon. As I said, the record's out on 24th April 2010 and it doesn't sound bad at all (especially my bit).