Brighton rock: the Seagulls' South Coast sound kicks up a storm

Attila the Stockbroker talks to Mike Rowbottom about the record which promotes the club's campaign for a new stadium

Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and U2 have something in common this week. They are all being beaten by Brighton and Hove Albion.

Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and U2 have something in common this week. They are all being beaten by Brighton and Hove Albion.

Specifically, the team outselling them in the charts is made up of Brighton supporters, rallied by the punk poet Attila the Stockbroker, who have re-recorded the classic Eighties anthem "Tom Hark" to highlight their club's urgent struggle for a new stadium in nearby Falmer. Sales have already topped 3,000, enough to see the reworked version establish itself at No 17 in Sunday's Radio One chart countdown.

Does an imminent appearance on Top of the Pops beckon this week for the group calling themselves Seagulls Ska? Probably not, given the hermetically sealed nature of the music business these days. But the beauty of it is - it doesn't matter. Attila and his boys have already achieved their aim.

"Whatever happens," he said, "they have got to mention us when they do the countdown, and we have already done the most important thing of all, which is to tell everyone round the country, even those who are not interested in football, that we need a new stadium. It has also raised a good amount of cash for the club, and it has been a bloody lot of fun."

Football and music have become increasingly entwined in recent years, with top performers gradually taking over duties from groups of sheepish, vocally challenged players. Thus the hearty tones of "Back Home", England's 1970 World Cup song, have given way to more stylish contributions such as "World In Motion", New Order's England song for the 1990 World Cup, and "Football's Coming Home", the enduring anthem written for the Euro 96 campaign by Ian Brodie of the Lightning Seeds (with a little help from Frank Skinner and David Baddiel).

Brighton established their own little place in the genre when they reached the 1983 FA Cup final, as their players and manager Jimmy Melia - he of the nifty white disco-dancing shoes - recorded "The Boys In The Old Brighton Blue". Sadly for the Seagulls, the song had the penetration of a late shot on goal by Gordon Smith, failing to reach the top 50.

That Brighton effort was from the old school. The one currently charting was put together by a number of professional musicians under the direction of the Stockbroker, who is otherwise known as John Baine.

Since "Tom Hark" became a big hit for Brighton punk band The Piranhas in 1980 it has always been associated with the football club, and Baine, in his role as one of the club's announcers, has often played it before matches. What prompted him to choose it as the latest focus for Brighton's aspirations was its increasing use by other clubs, who began to provide mocking bursts of the ditty when Brighton conceded a goal.

"It was ridiculous," he recalled. "Teams like Wolves and Ipswich were scoring against us, and then they were playing a Brighton song recorded by Brighton people at us." Baine decided to reclaim the club's song and re-record it with new lyrics pointing up Brighton's desperate need to find a new home eight years after being evicted from The Goldstone Ground.

Thus, in collaboration with some local musicians, he produced a CD which also includes ska-ed up versions of Sussex-By-The-Sea and Attila's mocking 1990 tribute to Brighton's rivals Crystal Palace, Cup finalists that year, entitled "Roll Up For The Donkey Derby". Baine calculated that if the new song - entitled "Tom Hark (We Want Falmer!)" - sold more than 2,000 in its first week it would earn a place in the top 40 at an ideal time to highlight the club's aspirations before the public inquiry into their desired move reopens in February. The effort was strongly supported by Skint Records, the club sponsors owned by Fatboy Slim.

"The first week in the new year traditionally has very, very low sales," he said. "We already had 1,500 copies pre-sold by the release date of 3 January, which was enough to put us in the top 10 of that day's chart. After that we knew it was going to be a bit like a handicap race, because we were selling through five local shops and the internet against records which had major promotion throughout the entire country.

"But we had great support from clubs like Wimbledon, Doncaster and Wrexham who have been going through the same kind of thing as us, and we managed to hold up. I thought we would do well to get a place in the top 40, and really well to make the top 30. To reach the top 20 has been absolutely brilliant."

The record is part of a campaign by fans to keep the club's quest in the public eye. Supporters and players marched along the seafront during last autumn's Labour Party conference in Brighton, and John Prescott's office received one of the club Christmas cards featuring scantily clad players which also earned national press coverage.

The Attila-inspired lyrics from Brighton's song compare playing at their current home of Withdean, a cramped athletics stadium, to being in Albania Division Eight, and they press the point home: "Listen Mr Prescott as well Tell you how/ We need our Falmer stadium, and we need it now." The question now is: will the Man with Two Jags get with the beat?

The Brighton CD is available at www.amazon.co.uk or www.HMV.co.uk (search for Seagulls Ska)

OLD BOOTS AND PANTS FOOTBALL'S GREATEST HITS AND LOW NOTES

The Top Ten Winners

1 World in Motion England and New Order (1990, Chart position: 1)

Mancunian cult popsters, the rapping skills of John Barnes

2 Three Lions Baddiel, Skinner and the Lightning Seeds (1996, 1)

Rocked England. Also, bizarrely, adopted by the Germans

3 Ossie's Dream Tottenham and Chas 'n' Dave (1981, 5)

Hilarious foreign mispronunciation of Tottenham

4 Anfield Rap Liverpool FC (1988, 3)

Attempt to halt rap's popularity before it began

5 Ally's Tartan Army Scotland/Andy Cameron (1978, 6)

A better effort than the team managed at the finals

6 Nessun Dorma Luciano Pavarotti (1990, 2)

Football as high culture...and it worked

7 Back Home England World Cup Squad (1970, 1)

Moore's squad live up to the glory days of English pop

8 Blue Day Suggs and Co featuring Chelsea FC (1997, 22)

Helped by minimal involvement from the footballers

9 Nice One Cyril Tottenham Hotspur/Cockerel Chorus (1973, 14)

Homage to rampaging Spurs full-back Cyril Knowles

10 Leeds, Leeds, Leeds (Marching On Together) Leeds United FC (1972, 10) B side, but with enduring terrace appeal

TEN TO MAKE YOUR TOES CURL

1 On Top Of The World England United (1998, chart position: 9)

Four famous bands. One awful song

2 Diamond Lights Glenn Hoddle/Chris Waddle (1987, 12)

Soft-rock tosh summed up the Eighties in five painful minutes

3 Fog On The Tyne Gazza and Lindisfarne (1990, 2)

Not the greatest thing either did in 1990

4 We're On The Ball Ant and Dec (2002, 3)

Either that, or we're hugely irritating

5 Pass and Move (It's the Liverpool Groove) Liverpool FC (1996, 4)

Spice Boys outdo their female counterparts

6 Meat Pie Sausage Roll (Come On England Gis A Goal) Grandad Roberts and his Son Elvis (1998, 70)

Small boys in the park, jumpers for goalposts. Marvellous

7 Do the Wright Thing Ian Wright (1993, 43)

Which wasn't making this record

8 Vindaloo Fat Les (1998, 2)

Hirst and Allen capture spirit of burberry-capped lad culture

9 We Have A Dream Scottish World Cup Squad (1982, 5)

John Gordon-Sinclair sets up another nightmare

10 Boys In The Old Brighton Blue Brighton FC (1983, 65)

Proof that it wasn't always better in the old days

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