This is one football story I absolutely must tell.
I hope you will enjoy reading it as much as I am enjoying to write and tell it.
It is my take and interpretation on the story of the song ‘I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles’ and its inseparable connection with West Ham United Football Club.
The song was originally written in 1919 by two Americans Jaan Kenbrovin and John William Kellette.
The song became an instant hit both in America and ‘across the pond’ in Great Britain.
It was particularly popularized in the musical halls of the time by a charismatic ageing London singer called Dorothy Bird.
The early 1920s was the era of Billy ‘Bubbles’ Murray who was an uncompromising defender for West Ham and who wore the maroon and claret colours with great pride.
Billy Murray got the infamous nickname because of his distinctive mop of curly hair.
When Dorothy Bird was invited to sing ‘I’m Blowing Bubbles’ at a West Ham home match against Swansea, the scene was set for the song to become the anthem of the east London football team in a nostalgic and romantic, almost unexpected and accidental way.
It was also the ignition for a discreet love affair which lasted for several years between Dorothy Bird and ‘Bubbles Murray’.
West Ham United reached the 1923 F.A. Cup Final and ‘Bubbles’ Murray was a team player on the day.
It was the first-ever F.A. Cup Final played at Wembley Stadium, the national English arena still to this day.
The opposition Bolton Wanderers won the match 2-0 but Dorothy Bird sang the song before 120,000 spectators to take herself, ‘Bubbles’ Murray and the song into football folklore.
‘Dolly Bird’ became London slang for a charming young lady and ‘I’m forever Blowing Bubbles’ became in many ways the first song ever converted into a football anthem before a huge audience.
It may, however, be wise to say at this stage that I wish to pass on the double meaning of the title of this story for want of its sexual overtone. No further comment needed!
In 1966, three West Ham players – Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters – all played for England in their thrilling 4-2 World Cup final victory over West Germany at the same Wembley Stadium arena as West Ham took stage in 1923.
The sound of ‘I’m forever Blowing Bubbles’ was broadcast to a worldwide audience.
The song has a lot to do with the ethos of West Ham United Football Club and the rough-tough community environment in which the current Boleyn Ground-Upton Park has been home for more than a hundred years.
Current lyrics of the song reflect their rivalry with both Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea.
In truth, that lyrical reference within the song can be adapted to whatever tone you choose and the song can, of course, be sung in a non-football congext.
West Ham are shortly to move home to the Olympic Stadium ‘a stone’s throw away’ at the beginning of the 2016-2017 season.
Nothing will detract from the significance of the song and the pride with which ‘I’m forever Blowing Bubbles’ is song by every West Ham United fan who professes to be a ‘Hammer’ and ‘an Iron’ on his heart and on his sleeve.
For anyone who is not familiar with the song, here are the most well-known lyrics:
I’m forever blowing bubbles,
Blowing pretty bubbles in the air.
They fly so high,
They reach the sky.
They’re like my dreams,
They fade and die,
Tottenham always running OR (People always smiling)
Chelsea running too OR (Children smiling too)
I’m forever blowing bubbles,
Blowing pretty bubbles everywhere.