FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions
How did it all start?
Just for fun really and that is still the ethos. A bugle was smuggled into a game by John (Band Leader) in 1993. It was Everton v Sheffield Wednesday and the fans(Sheffield Wednesday fans) loved it when it was played especially as they were 2-0 up at the time. Trevor Francis was the manager of Wednesday at the time and asked John to form a band. John,Steve and Loz were original members of the band and are still there today. One of the proudest moments was when the band got the call to play for England from the then England manager Glenn Hoddle and David Davis the FA Chief Executive at the time. That was 1996 and the band have played at every England games since, home and away with only two exceptions.
Which are your most memorable games?
Each band member has different choices but generally four games come to mind. The 0-0 draw in Rome that meant qualification for France ’98 where the England fans out sung the Italians big style despite appalling treatment by the Italian authorities. The Great Escape was born that night as an England song.
The 2-0 victory over Scotland at Hampden, again none stop singing and a fantastic performance by the team. They’re not too keen on us up there.
Obviously the 5-1win in Germany it doesn’t get much better than that. All the better as it happened for going 1-0 down initially. German fans were nowhere to be seen after the game.
And fourthly beating Argentina in Japan 2002 as payback for losing in France ’98 when David Beckham was sent off. His penalty was very telling.
There are more of course, the Greece game when Beckham scored that free kick in the last minute. And there are more......
What do the players think?
The band don’t get to meet the players regularly or anymore than other fans but when we have been fortunate enough to meet players they have often volunteered to us that they ‘love what we do’. We always point out that it is the band and the fans.
We press ex players in particular for an answer on this question because they don’t have to say ‘the right thing’. Ian Wright, Geoff Hurst, John Terry, Rio Ferdinand, Chris Waddle. Paul Ince and many others have commented positively about the band.
Why do you do it? What drives you?
We do it for the same reasons that any fan supports England. We have a pride and passion to support our country and above all a will and belief that we can win any game. We also believe that the more noise and vocal support that we can generate, the more inspiration our players will have and the more the opposition will be affected/demoralised.
Do you get free travel and tickets to away games?
We pay for ourselves and actually prefer it that way (not that we have a choice). Nobody likes a freeloader especially proper football fans and we’re no different.
Does it cost you a lot to follow England?
Yes, in a nutshell, it does. But it is worth every penny.
We have the added expense of buying instruments of course. Prices range from £600 to £4,000 if you’re a big brass player but nobody is complaining.
How do you fund your trips? Do the FA pay you? Do you get free travel and tickets to away games?
We fund our trips through a combination of wages like anyone else and sponsorship. Not all of the band members would be able to afford to go to all the matches so we sing for our supper at appearances and have to find sponsorship. We are very grateful to our sponsors Pukka Pies whose support is invaluable. We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without them. Football fans and Pukka Pies we think fit rather nicely. Thanks to Gilders VW too who lend us their bus for Wembley trips.
The FA treat us very well and we have an excellent relationship with the staff at the FA particularly the englandfans staff of whom we cannot speak highly enough. We don’t get paid, we don’t get free travel or tickets to away games nor do we want any preferential treatment.
How difficult is it to join the band, what do you look for?
On the face of it probably easier than you think.
We look for England fans with pride, passion and dedication to generating the best support in the world. If you can play it helps but we look for volume not skill. Just get in touch if you fancy it.
Why do you always play the same tune?
We’re famous for playing, ‘The Great Escape’ and often do at England games. A bit like Liverpool fans sing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, West Ham ‘Bubbles’, Newcastle ‘Haway the lads’, Stoke ‘Delilah’, Coventry ‘Eton boating song’, Chelsea ‘One man went to mow’, you get he idea. However we do have more than 140 songs/tunes in our repertoire and it increases all the time.
At most games we play between 10 and 30 different tunes depending on how the game is going and even who is playing. We always do the fans national anthem at the beginning of the second half of every game. Some of our tunes are available to download on this website but don’t expect to be entertained in a true musical sense.
How do I get to sit near the band at Wembley?
The band are situated in block 134 on the lower tier of Wembley. If you like to support in a very vocal way come and join us.
How do I get to sit away from the band at Wembley?
Just avoid section 134 by as much distance as possible. Quietest place is usually the posh seats!
How come you’re always on the back row at games?
Over the years we have found that projecting the sound over the fans and onto the pitch from the back of the crowd works best.
Do you ever get it wrong and play the wrong thing?
Yes. We generally laugh now when we do get it wrong although it doesn’t happen as often as in the early days. It’s not that we don’t care it’s that we should know better. That is our skill knowing what, when and how to do what we do. Also knowing when to do nothing is important as well.
Some fans and commentators have a go at you what do you think about that?
You can’t do what we do and expect no comments from people. We take the good and the bad. Fortunately there’s far more good than bad and we appreciate that. We have developed a skill for putting hecklers down some of whom have ended up as good friends. Some commentators are unkind and should know better. That’s life.
How often do you practice?
If you’ve heard us you’ll realise we don’t.
What musical qualifications do you have?
That varies but the majority don’t have any obviously! Some do but they aren’t any use in our band.
How many England games have the band played at?
We’re very proud to say that we have played at more than 160 England games so far and counting.
Which is the best ground/country you have visited?
Besides Wembley and England of course. Some of the grounds in Japan were out of this world, Osaka in particular.
Which is the worst ground/country you have visited?
With our apologies it has to be Albania for the ground it was shocking and where we were wasn’t the most welcoming place. Closely followed by Azerbaijan where the weather was so so bad that some fans opted to watch the game in a bar instead of on the terrace (not us of course). We did have a time in Switzerland where it was so cold that the instruments stuck to our lips!
Which country were the friendliest?
Japan was a place where you felt very welcome and safe all the time. The Japanese football fans all seemed to support England.
Which opposition fans were the loudest?
A few countries have had good support South Africa, Croatia and Montenegro come to mind.
What’s the funniest thing that’s happened on your travels?
There have been so many from winding each other up to practical jokes. School boy humour is the order of the day and TV/Radio presenters are our favourite target.
Why don’t you write a book?
Funny you should ask that, we have! ‘Playing For England’ is out and available to buy via this website. It’s a real life story mixing The Full Monty with Brassed Off and Fever Pitch.
How do you all get the time off work to go to every game?
With very much difficulty. It is fair to say that band members would probably be further advanced career wise if they spent more time at work. Some have had to leave jobs and the odd porky has been told in order to follow our passion.
What is your favoured way to travel away?
The cheapest usually wins. Most regular England fans are excellent at sniffing out the bargain travel deals on various low cost websites. The day trips are a killer having to be awake for 24 hours plus but are often the best way to minimise time off and cost. Manchester and Doncaster airports are our prefered choice of airports unless it’s a tournament when distance doesn’t matter.
Have you ever been in any bother whilst on your travels?
Not really. We have a sixth sense as far as trouble is concerned. We did have one member rushed into hospital straight after the 5-1 game v Germany to have his appendix removed. He said he didn’t want to mention the pain before in case he wasn’t able to go!
Will we win the Euros? Or the World Cup?
Too right we will and it’ll be this time too don’t you worry! Both by the way.