The fighting performances of Northern Ireland teams through the years have created their fair share of sporting history, but a battle of the bands is now raging as local songwriters tackle the tricky task of penning a Euro 2016 anthem for the Green and White Army.
Three new recordings are now vying for the affections of the France-bound Green and White Army - spanning the music genres from folk to indie.
Despite their musical differences, all the artists have been inspired by the heroics of Michael O’Neill’s men in qualifying for a first major tournament for 30 years.
Originally from north Belfast but now living in Australia, Jim Lindsay’s ‘We Got the Lingo Sussed’ features a catchy chorus with a run down of some helpful phrases - including “where’s the bar” and “shut your bake”.
“I am home at the minute, and will be staying home until the Euro’s, but will be meeting up with ten friends from Australia in France and going to the games together,” he said.
“I applied for tickets for Nice before qualification - and before I knew where Northern Ireland would be playing if they qualified.
“I didn’t know much about France but I thought Nice sounds nice so I put in for those dates and ended up getting four tickets.
“Next thing I knew that was where Northern Ireland’s first game was so that was like winning the lottery.”
Jim said both the team and the country as a whole continually inspires him.
“What makes me proud to be from Northern Ireland is the amazing history and people that have come from there,” he added.
‘We Got the Lingo Sussed’ is available to download from iTunes.
Manchester indie band The Nouvelles have been signed up to the cause by Belfast-born front man Johnnie Jackson.
The singer/songwriter has crafted ‘Our Wee Country’ drawing heavily on the spirit of 82 and the last time Northern Ireland graced the world stage in Mexico in 1986.
Controversially, ‘Jacko’ believes his song would make an ideal official replacement for the current national anthem he claims “next to no one wants” to carry on indefinitely.
“The song was written as an anthem idea, as FIFA will allow Northern Ireland to change from God Save The Queen,” he said.
Its an exciting time for the NI football team and we hope everyone gets behind it like our own fans have already. It would go well with the new ground and a new football flag as well as raise the profile of our Euro finals appearance.”
The band’s record label boss has described it as “the best football song since New Order did World in Motion”.
‘Our Wee Country’ is available at www.cdbaby.com/cd/thenouvelles2
Willie Drennan, the traditional Ulster-Scots musician, poet and writer from Co Antrim has put together an entire album inspired by the feel-good factor around Euro 2016 qualification.
“The album is primarily a celebration of Northern Ireland’s fantastic achievement in reaching the Euro finals, for the first time, in 2016. It is also a celebration of our wee country: Northern Ireland.
“Almost all of songs relate to the fans or the spirit of the football team.
“It is a combination of new creations and traditional pieces that reflect the exceptional spirit of both the football team and their fans.
“Much of it is in traditional Ulster Scots fashion but there are surprises: such as ‘Boys of Belfast’ which incorporates Rock guitar with fifes and Lambeg. There is quite a bit of drumming throughout the album.”
Willie added: “There are also a couple of tracks that are really just about the Northern Irish in general. Most tracks have vocals but there are several instrumentals to add ambience and diversity for the listener.
“In other words, you don’t have to be a football fan to buy the album – but it will help if you are.”
As well as notes in the CD booklet there will be an additional background booklet with lyrics and extended notes. The retail price for the 12 track album is expected to be £8.
“It is due to be released in early May with a few CD release parties coming up: dates and venues to be announced very soon,” he said.
The album will be available in a few select retail outlets across Northern Ireland as well as online. It will also be available on itunes. For updates check websites www.williedrennan.org and www.theulsterfolk.com.