“It captured the mood of the nation” - Meet the Norwich man behind 1996 England anthem Three Lions
ARCHANT EASTERN DAILY PRESS (01603) 772434
At his home in Cringleford, Darren Venn has a platinum disc of Three Lions framed and mounted on his wall.
It marks 600,000 sales of the song that has been ringing out in bars and pubs across the country over the last few weeks as England continue an historic World Cup run.
He was responsible for sales and marketing at the FA between 1993 and 1997 when the famous Baddiel and Skinner and the Lightning Seeds anthem formed the sound track to the Euro ‘96 tournament.
At the time UEFA had rights to most of the elements of the tournament - except music. The FA staged an official concert at Old Trafford, as well as an album and a single.
“I was thinking about who we wanted to do it,” said Mr Venn, 52. “I was watching Match of the Day and Life of Riley was used for goal of the month and fitted beautifully with the footage.
“I made an approach to Ian Broudie and he wanted to do it but not as a Lightning Seeds project but as a unique one off - and he asked for Baddiel and Skinner.
“We got the guys on board and Ian Broudie played me the music, but he had only written three lines for the song, which was ‘it’s coming home’.”
Mr Venn was faxed through the lyrics by Baddiel and Skinner, which he said were “brilliant”, but one or two lines concerned him.
“One was the line about ‘Butcher going to war’” he said. “My problem was nothing to do with Terry being an Ipswich fan, but in the 90s there was a big problem with hooliganism so it was more about the part on ‘going to war’.
“That became ‘Bobby belting the ball’.”
He said he wrote over the last line of the first verse from ‘they just can’t play’ to ‘I know they can play’.
“I felt no matter how bad we were we couldn’t have in the official England song that the England team can’t play,” he said.
He added: “The most important thing about the song is it is very truthful. It talks about 30 years of hurt and Baddiel and Skinner did a brilliant job summarising how football fans felt at the time.
“Some incredible things happened around Three Lions. It was sung by 250,000 Germans when they won Euro ‘96, and it charted at number 11 in Norway, and they didn’t even take part.
“It has been enduring. The truth is it is down to brilliant music by Ian Broudie and brilliant lyrics. It just works. Some of the lines translate into terrace style chants, and it captured the mood of the nation.
“We haven’t always been successful and I think it is quite honest about that.
“Its fortunes are tied with the fortunes of the England team. When they are not doing well you won’t hear it so much. When they are, it is a banner song.”
Does Mr Venn believe it is finally coming home in 2018?
“A bit of belief doesn’t hurt,” he said. “It has been extraordinary already - against all expectations.”