The Green and White Army was in fine voice on Sunday for the official launch of a charity song celebrating Northern Ireland qualifying for Euro 2016.
More than 50 England-based fans gathered at a London bar, where a live rendition of ‘Making Our Way to Paris’ was belted out to the tune of Smokie hit ‘Living Next Door to Alice.’
Neal Anderson of the London Northern Ireland Supporters Club said the fans’ base in the capital - Philomena’s Philomena’s Irish Sports Bar in Covent Garden - has the best match day atmosphere outside of Windsor Park, and was the perfect venue for the launch of the track written by follow member Richard Cathcart.
Neal, who is originally from Portstewart but now lives in Bromley, said: “Our members come from across London and SE England, and from all backgrounds in Northern Ireland. When Richard phoned me asking if the club could assist, we jumped at the chance to muck in and volunteer, especially if it helps a great cause like the Cancer Fund for Children. London NISC members have sung the chorus and backing vocals, and provided the CD cover design, video, photos and marketing.”
Richard’s catchy lyrics capture the ecstasy of NI’s unexpected qualification for the finals in France - and pay tribute to the legends of old who qualified for the Sweden ’58, Spain ’82 and Mexico ’86 World Cups.
Explaining his inspiration behind the song, Chiswick-based Fermanagh man Richard said: “It all started out in a Bucharest bar in October 2014, just before our game with Romania. I was enjoying the usual pre-match atmosphere with the travelling Green and White Army when ‘Living Next Door to Alice’ came on the bar’s sound system. Everyone instantly started singing along. Instead of ‘for twenty four years I’ve been living next door to Alice’,
“I spontaneously started singing ‘for in twenty sixteen we’ll be making our way to Paris’. It got a few laughs, but I thought no more of it.”
In October last year, when Northern Ireland qualified for Euro 2016, what had started as a bit of banter in a Bucharest bar gave Richard an idea.
“It was such an amazing feeling to know that after 30 long years we’d again have the chance to compete in a major tournament,” he said.
“Then someone asked on the popular Our Wee Country online fans forum if there would be a song. That was the catalyst for me to contact my good friend and professional musician Steve Wegrzynski, and it’s all snowballed from there.”
Initially the song will be available in CD form direct from beezerrecords.com, but will soon be available from other outlets, as well as download.
The Cancer Fund for Children provides practical, financial and emotional support to families affected by cancer.
Andy Boal, a fund-raiser for the charity, said: “The charity relies on fundraising activity in order to continue providing vital support services for families affected by cancer. Cancer Fund for Children understands the devastating impact a cancer diagnosis and treatment can have on the whole family. Our team of experienced Specialists helps families cope with the impact cancer has on their lives by supporting them during and after treatment and sadly in some cases, bereavement.”
He added: “Any funds raised through the sale of this single will make a genuine difference to these families. It’s great to be associated with this fun project, and we wish Northern Ireland and the travelling green and white army every success at Euro 2016.”