Sing When You're Winning: famous football fans reveal their allegiances
“The great thing about Leicester City is we’re shit. We are absolutely rubbish. But that doesn’t matter because every so often when we do achieve something, it’s all the sweeter after so much suffering.”
As a City regular for 20 years, Serge Pizzorno is on first-name terms with footballing failure. One quarter of Kasabian, the band who infamously brag that they’ll be “bigger than Oasis”, the hairy axeman is nevertheless at his happiest wallowing in the Foxes’ mediocrity.
“It must be an absolute nightmare being a Manchester United fan these days because you’re following a team that’s just become a profit-making company,” he snorts.
“Imagine if you’re a fan from Stretford and you’ve supported them for 20 years, from before they were good. You can’t just turn your back on them because they’re your team, so it must break your heart to see what they’ve become. It’s the same with Chelsea.
"I’d hate it if that ever happened to City, if we ever became about making money. I’d rather support a shit team. I’m proud to be shit.”
Which is lucky, given the Foxes’ fluctuating fortunes. It’s also fortunate for the ears of the nation, reckons Pizzorno.
“There’s no doubt about it, supporting a crap football team helps make decent music,” he opines.
“Look, on one side you’ve got Led Zeppelin and Wolves, Oasis and Man City and Kasabian and Leicester. And on the other, there’s Depeche Mode and Chelsea, Spandau Ballet and Arsenal and Mick Hucknall and Man United.”
Though his hirsute band-mates, staunch Foxes to a man, are mysteriously absent – possibly hurling TV sets through bedroom windows – Pizzorno is high as a kite. Fifteen floors above street level, to be exact, chilling in the bar of a swanky hotel on London’s elegant Regent Street.
“My first game was Liverpool at home in about 1986,” he remembers. “We lost 3-1 and Ian Rush scored one of them, but I was hooked.”
"THE SUNDERLAND FANS WERE AFTER REVENGE..."
Over the next decade, Pizzorno would attend the games with his dad. “We’d sit in the old East Stand, which was right next to the away fans so the atmosphere was absolutely brilliant,” he remembers, with a mischievous smile.
Later, he fell in with his band-mates and followed the Foxes further afield. “We went to Sunderland away this one time
and beat them 2-1,” he remembers with a shudder.
“After the game, we were making our way back to the coaches, which were parked in grids around the other side of the ground. Suddenly, all these Sunderland boys stepped out from between these coaches. It had kicked off between them and City before and the Sunderland boys were after revenge.
“Realising we wouldn’t get back to our coach, we sneaked on the closest City bus and it was full of all these old boys playing cards. They were just the sorts who would have been bang into all that violence, so I ran on and told them it was kicking off and these lads just told us all to sit down and stay put.
"As they piled off, one of them pulled off one of those long tube lights you get on coaches, and he ran off swinging it like it was a lightsaber. For a minute,” he laughs, “it looked like Luke Skywalker had turned up to save the City fans.”
Though keen to distance the band from Leicester’s more feisty following, Pizzorno freely admits that football’s fanatics have influenced Kasabian’s artistic approach. “Look at the cover of our album, it’s an image based on an Italian ultra,” he says. “We have respect for them because they’re so passionate about their team.”
It’s a passion shared by the band, as their eponymous debut confirms.
“If you cut through our music, the same sort of spirit is there. If people have bought an album or bought a ticket to come and watch us, then we’re going to give them everything because that’s what they deserve. Without someone listening, what’s the point of making music?”
And therein lies Pizzorno’s biggest beef with the state of football today. “Players not bothering really winds me up,” he snaps, warming to his theme.
“If 10,000 Leicester City fans said, ‘Right, I’m not happy with that player, he’s playing crap and he knows it but he’s happy picking up his wages and going home to listen to his R&B’, football would be finished. Without fans paying their wages, it’d all be over.”
"WE NEED SOMEONE TO WORSHIP"
Pausing briefly for air, he leans back in his chair, shrugs and regains his composure. “That’s all I want from a player; for them to know what it means to wear the club’s badge, to appreciate what it means to the fans.
"I love the players that really play for their club, the Di Canios and Cantonas. They might move on in the end, but they know what it means to the people who pay their money. The problem is, there are no heroes any more at City
and that’s what we need, someone we can really worship.”
Despite now mixing with the great and the good of the music world, Kasabian have clung tight to their roots. “Yeah, we played a gig in the local working men’s club after we got relegated from the Premiership last year,” laughs Pizzorno.
“That’s the closest we’ve come to playing at the Walkers Stadium, but we definitely want to play a gig there at some point.”
Other grand ambitions include building a mini stadium in his back garden (“So I can have all my mates round for a game”), and enrolling on the celebrity five-a-side circuit. “We can’t wait to get involved in all that,” he laughs, “because we can’t wait to give Blue a good kicking, and we’ll f**king hammer all those bands who think they can play. We can’t wait.”
From the April 2005 issue of FourFourTwo.
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