Albert Stuivenberg and “North London Forever”: two events from the weekend

By Tony Attwood

Last weekend two totally unrelated events struck me as important beyond the game that we went to see.  The game of course always takes over; it is the whole point of travelling a fair old distance, but there is always other stuff at the edges and sometimes the other stuff stays in the memory a bit more than the match itself.

For the Leeds United game, and all the talk of the sending off and whether we will make it into the Champions League, there were these two totally “other” things that struck me: the song and the programme.

The programme included a long interview with Albert Stuivenberg – the man who stands alongside Mikel Arteta throughout the games.  If you have a copy of the programme and not read it yet, it is so worth reading.

The other point is the song, which you’ll probably know about, but I’m reproducing it here just in case you haven’t heard it.   It is The Angel by Louis Dunford, also known as “North London Forever”.

In typical fashion the Sun tried to jump in on the act with the headline to an article “Arsenal look to copy Liverpool with new club anthem ‘North London Forever’ – here are the lyrics”.

There is of course no copying of Liverpool since the adopted Liverpool tune “You’ll never walk alone” was composed not by Liverpudlians but by Americans, Oscar Hammerstein II and Richard Rodgers as part of the musical Carousel, which was first performed in 1945.  It has no connection at all with Liverpool.  A typical piece of misleading Sun gibberish.  Or Liverpudlian propaganda.  Or both.

This new song adopted by Arsenal is directly related to north London – the clue is in the fact that it has the line “North London Forever” within it, and as the title.   And it is contemporary.

Even more misleading in the Sun’s headline is the phrase “Here are the lyrics.”  The article didn’t reproduce them, probably because of the lyrics contain over 50 words.  (There’s actually 425 words, which is approaching Bob Dylan proportions).  But it is also noteworthy that Liverpool are not the only club to lay claim to “You’ll never walk” song – Celtic use it (or at least have used it) as well.

Of course the other major difference between this song and the Liverpool copy of a Broadway musical hit, is that the composer is an Arsenal fan who actually goes to the games and lives in the area.  There is no record of Hammerstein and Rodgers being Liverpool supporters.

If you are interested in knowing more GQ magazine had a good interview with the composer.

And as for the lyrics, large numbers of sites claim in their headlines to have them, but then don’t print them.   So here they are…  by Louis Dunford

As I walk these streets alone
Through this borough I call home
Upon the baron fields of Highbury,
Neath the stadiums of stone
Through the turnstiles at The Angel
See the homeless on the green
From The Cally to The Cross
And every shithole in between

Pass the church, the mosque, a crack den
And the offie on the corner
See the brasses from the brothel
That pretends to be a sauna
Watch the bedlam in the bookies
See the winners and the losers
Seeking solace from their sorrows
In the local battle cruisers

Through the madness in the market
Weathered faces turn to greet ya
“Hello guvnor, how’s your mother?”
“You alright son, be lucky geeza”
Double pie and mash and liquor
A Cuppa Rosie Lee up chap
Or watch retired gangsters bicker
Everyday in Arthur’s cafe

The little fuckers causing trouble
For the cozzers make you smile
You meet ya muckers for a couple
Forget your troubles for a while
From The Thornhill to The Hemmy
All the faces are the same
Cause the manor might be changing
But the people still remain

North London forever
Whatever the weather
These streets are our own
And my heart will leave you never
My blood will forever
Run through the stone

As I walk these streets alone
Through a kingdom made of Chrome

I see them ripping up the cobbles
And tearing down our childhood homes
I see the architecture changing
Watch the history disappear
And the skyline rearranging
Into towers of veneer

But I see the remnants of the London
That they thought they could erase
Every time I hear the old school
Talk about the good old days
Or every time I watch the football
Or have a ruby with the lads
See an hoister selling clobber
Or a dealer shooting bags

It’s in the single mothers, juggling a baby,
And a job, in every single brother
Struggling that wound up on the dock
It’s in the roots and the foundations,
Still clinging to the land
It’s in the bricks that built the Morland
And Popham that still stand

It’s in my family and my friends
In every gram and every Benz
It’s in the roots that we inherit
When a generation ends
It’s in the ruins of your youth
And the faces of your past
Cause the manor might be changing
But the people always last

North London forever
Whatever the weather
These streets are our own
And my heart will leave you never
My blood will forever
Run through the stone

I’m certainly hoping it will stay as the club’s anthem and it is good to hear the club officially supporting the use of the song.


5 Replies to “Albert Stuivenberg and “North London Forever”: two events from the weekend”

  1. It is indeed a great new anthem and it was wonderful to hear it being sung so passionately before the game on Sunday. A few years ago we went to see Feyenoord v Ajax in Rotterdam (De Klassieker). Away fans were banned which is probably why I managed to get hold of 7 tickets form the club shop. The match was forgettable but the home crowd singing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ before it was just magic. Ajax won ..

  2. had completely missed that one
    makes me wish i were still teaching – i’d have built a whole series of lessons around this
    thanks, tony!

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