Exiting Brisbane Road last Saturday in the midst of some buoyant fellow Blues fans – our collective spirit lifted by only our second away win of the season – I was optimistic this victory would become the catalyst for our long-awaited promotion push.
The atmosphere in east London was very good, the Blue Army as usual were making all the noise under the musical directorship of the big-hatted one and his very merry men.
On my return journey, while waiting for my Fratton-bound train to depart from Waterloo, my mind went back in time to recall another famous commander-in-chief, and no, it wasn’t the Duke of Wellington.
My thoughts centred on that of Westwood’s preceding chief Fratton chorister.
Norman ‘Dog Meat’ Jones sang with such infectious gusto, it was not uncommon for the local constabulary to join in the chorus of his signature ‘Alouette’ tune.
Norman belted this number out on a continuous long-running tour of footballing outposts during the late 70s and early 80s.
‘Alouette’ had an incredible binding effect on all Pompey fans of this era.
Usually Norman would begin his rendition at the end of the game, while waiting to be escorted to our train or coach by the police.
The song would lift morale after defeat or be sung in a more triumphant manner following victory – but regardless of the result, this anthem helped congeal our blue army and much gratitude is owed to Norman’s melodic ditty.
The song itself is more than 300 years old and is of a French/Canadian origin.
It tells the tale of a nightingale’s call awaking two lovers and causing them to part.
Norman’s updated and amended version was sung in praise of a fair Leigh Park maiden, who had fallen under his charm.
Similar to 10 Green Bottles and One Man Went to Mow, each verse would lengthen and increase in volume and intensity.
During its final verse, the harmonies of the Pompey fans and local bobbies would sometimes combine to produce an exulted crescendo.
To jolt the memories of the retired or aging choirboys and for the majority of the unaware readership, here are the much loved lyrics...
Alouette, Gentille Alouette
Alouette, Je Te Plumerai
Oh how I loved her one
(Ensemble, police optional)
Her one glass eye
Norman would then continue with further verses promoting his sweetheart’s ‘goofy teeth’, ‘knobbly knees’ and various other more intimate features of his beloved as we were all taken on this musical, anatomical journey.
During the course of the song the choir would grow in number and continue to parrot all of the bellowed assets belonging to this Leigh Park lovely.
The final verse would include all of his girlfriend’s finest attributes and would be sung at such speed and superb dexterity it would always bring the house down.
Oh, to hear that tune one more time.
Thanks ‘Dog Meat’ for such special memories!
A regular contributor to the Football Mail’s letters page many moons ago, the Northstand Critic has got back in touch and now writes a weekly column in the Sports Mail.