Can Changing a National Anthem Bring An Attitude Change?
It should come as no surprise that as the England football team tries for yet another tilt at major tournament glory, so too does the resentment towards the current national anthem. Back in January, Labour MP Toby Perkins proposed public consultation in order to select a new national anthem for England, with the popular Jerusalem mooted as a strong contender. With Scotland and Wales already having their own carefully chosen anthems, could a new song re-unite the nation?
Will Change in Anthem Create a Greater Sense of Pride in the National Shirt?
While the current anthem God Save The Queen has been sung at major sporting events for generations, it appears to have become something of a formality rather than a rallying call at recent football matches. Although England’s rugby players continue to belt out the national anthem at every given opportunity (even during the recent, ill-fated World Cup), many of the Three Lions stars refuse to even sing when the opportunity arises prior to a major qualifying or tournament game.
This is a far-cry from Euro ’96, when England’s players were caught in a tidal wave of emotion as the Three Lions swept to a semi-final clash against Germany at Wembley. On that unforgettable night in London, players such as Tony Adams, Stuart Pearce and Gareth Southgate sung the anthem as though their lives depended on it, just as they had done throughout the tournament. This not only helped to rally the fans and create an even more frenzied atmosphere inside the stadium, but it also seemed to cultivate a bond between players and supporters while uniting them in one almighty, common goal.
Fast-forward 20 years, and the importance of the anthem seems to have been undermined by rising wages, a slew of overseas coaches and an increasingly fragmented relationship between England’s players and their fans. In fact, manager Roy Hodgson reportedly told players to sing the anthem during the 2014 World Cup, which highlights the general sense of apathy towards this practice and the way in which a visible lack of passion may be perceived in the media.
The Importance of Singing a Popular and Unifying Anthem of the People
Of course, telling players to sing the anthem is utterly pointless, as players are supposed to be moved to join in this rallying cry because of their commitment to the national team. While it may prevent some fans from instantly criticising England player’s lack of passion or unwillingness to give their all to the national cause, it is fairly obvious to determine whether individuals are simply going through the motions or singing with a genuine sense of belief and emotion.
Given this and the distance that exists between modern footballers and working class fans, the selection of a new and popular anthem may help to create some unity in the English game. With a song that both fans and players alike can throw their considerable weight behind, games involving our national team can once again become proud and monumental occasions where those involved are compelled to give an extra 10% to the cause.
Then, and only then, may we see the likes of Euro ’96 revisited from an England perspective.