You’ll Never Walk Alone – The origins of one of the most chanted songs in English football
You’ll Never Walk Alone, is a song from a New York musical and an unlikely choice for a football chant. It is based on the work of a Hungarian playwright, Ferenc Molnár.
Sung by many fans today at several different clubs, here’s how it became associated with Liverpool.
The origin story of You’ll Never Walk Alone
At the start of the 20th century, Ferenc Molnár, a Hungarian author, and playwright produced Lilom. This was a play about a doomed love affair based on two settings, a merry-go-round in Budapest and Heaven.
It wasn’t a success until 1945 when American songwriters Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein requested rights to base their New York musical on Molnár’s original.
Lyrically, the song is a reflection of hard times, death, human defiance, and faith. Structurally, the song is slow and melancholy but, penned just as the Second World War was ending, it appears to have caught a mood.
Neither aspect of the song suggested music for a football terrace, but within 20 years, it cascaded down to the Anfield pitch and with a loud roar.
You’ll Never Walk Alone – How the song came to Anfield?
The main vehicle for this transition was the Liverpool band, Gerry and the Pacemakers. The band became successful in 1963 with their No. 1 single How Do You Do It?
After sparking two number-one hits, they now needed a 3rd song for a hat-trick of number 1s.
The lead singer, Gerry Marsden proposed ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ to their promoter Brain Epstein whose other group was The Beatles. The band recorded and released the song in October 1963, with the song staying No. 1 for about a month. (Watch video 👉 YWNA – Gerry and the Pacemakers)
This gave the Anfield crowd time to get used to the song lyrically. And methodically, the sweeping power of an almost gospel tune embedded itself in Anfield quickly.
By late 1965, UK television commentators would describe You’ll Never Walk Alone – YNWA – as Liverpool’s signature song. Its timely arrival chimed with the rise of one of Liverpool’s most charismatic and successful managers Bill Shankly. Who popularised it in their title-winning season in 1963-64 as well as their FA Cup triumph in 1966.
You’ll Never Walk Alone – How it spread to other stadiums
The song quickly gained global prominence as Liverpool developed into a European force in the 1970s and early 80s. YWNA was the constant soundtrack to their dominance and it became part of the club.
All the while, the song has spread throughout football. From Celtic in Glasgow, Feyenoord in Rotterdam to the German Bundesliga in FSV Mainz and Borussia Dortmund. This was the happiest coincidence for Jurgen Klopp as they were his previous clubs before joining Liverpool in 2015.