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I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles ...

Why West Ham Fans sing 'I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles'

by JOHN NORTHCUTT

Sheet Music - Bubbles 01 Sheet Music - Bubbles 02 Sheet Music - Bubbles 03 Sheet Music - Bubbles 04 Words

Generations of West Ham fans have sung I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles ' on the terraces at Upton Park but how many are aware of how it became a West Ham anthem?

 

The song was written in 1919 in the United States by a group of composers and became a hit on both sides of the Atlantic. The composers were James Kendis, James Brockman and Nat Vincent who formed their names into Jaan Kenbrovin, a pseudonym that appeared on the original sheet music. The lyrics were added by John William Kellette.

 

How Bubbles came to be associated with West Ham has been the subject of many a debate over the years. The popular theory is that the singing of this song came together with the unlikely ingredients of a soap advert and a young curly headed footballer.

 

In 1829 Sir John Millais painted a portrait of his grandson watching a soap bubble he had just blown through a clay pipe. The painting was exhibited at the Royal Academy. Later the Pears Soap Works used the painting as an advertisement and displayed posters throughout the East End of London. As the soap works was situated in Canning Town the West Ham supporters would have been familiar with the posters.

Brian Belton, the author of a number of books on the history of the club, has put forward another interesting theory in that during World War Two Bubbles was sung as crowds gathered during air raids in shelters and underground stations especially in blitz torn east London. This led to a rise in communal singing both in the Forces and the general public to raise morale. This could explain how Bubbles became the song of East End football. The song was heard at the 1940 League War Cup final and this may mark the real beginning of the song being the West Ham theme.

Bubbles Murray

The West Ham Boys team often played their home games at Upton Park in front of huge crowds and one of their team. Will Murray. having fair curly hair resembled the boy in the advert. He soon gained the nickname 'Bubbles' Murray and whenever he played the crowd would sing I'm Forever Blowing Bubble's, this being the popular song of the day. "Bubbles' Murray became well known and his nickname is mentioned in the programme for the 1921 English Schools Trophy final when he appeared at right half for West Ham Boys against Liverpool Boys. Amongst the crowd of 30,000 that came to the Boleyn Ground that day was the Duke of York, later to become King George VI. Around that time the Beckton Gas Works Band used to play Bubbles before the kick off and this tradition continued up until the 1970s through the Metropolitan Police Band, the Leyton Silver Band and finally the British Legion Band. Although the song became popular all around the ground there was particular affinity with the fans who stood in what was known as the Chicken Run. It was an encouraging sight to the team as the supporters sang Bubbles and swayed from side to side.

"Bubbles" Murray : West Ham Boys

Why West Ham Fans sing 'I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles' by JOHN NORTHCUTT

Verse 1

I'm dreaming dreams,

I'm scheming schemes,

I'm building castles high.

They're born anew,

Their days are few,

Just like a sweet butterfly.

And as the daylight is dawning,

They come again in the morning.

 

 

Chorus

I'm forever blowing bubbles,

Pretty bubbles in the air.

They fly so high,

Nearly reach the sky,

Then like my dreams,

They fade and die.

Fortune's always hiding,

I've looked everywhere,

I'm forever blowing bubbles,

Pretty bubbles in the air.

 

 

Verse 2

When cattle creep,

When I'm asleep,

To lands of hope I stray.

Then at daybreak,

When I awake,

My bluebird flutters away.

Happiness, you seem so near me, Happiness, come forth and cheer me.

 

 

Chorus

I'm forever blowing bubbles,

Pretty bubbles in the air.

They fly so high,

Nearly reach the sky,

Then like my dreams,

They fade and die.

Fortune's always hiding,

I've looked everywhere,

I'm forever blowing bubbles,

Pretty bubbles in the air.

It was at one time believed that Bubbles was sung at the 1923 FA Cup final when the Hammers met Bolton Wanderers, but this was not the case as a souvenir leaflet issued on the day had words to be sung by the Hammers fans to the tune of Till We Meet Again. Another theory of how Bubbles originated was the connection with Swansea Town. Between 1920 and 1926 the Swans' fans used to sing Bubbles at their home games and this is mentioned in a history of Swansea Town published in 1982. Various match reports mentioned the singing. A report for the home game with Bury in 1921 mentioned the ever-popular singing of Bubbles from the main bank with a tremendous sway. For the FA Cup tie with Clapton Orient in 1924 it was stated that once again the crowd swayed to Bubbles. The Leader in 1925 reported on the Swans trip to Southend noting that the support was considerable with lusty renderings of Bubbles. Finally the report for the FA Cup tie with Aston Villa in 1925 noted that despite the rendering of Cwn Rhondda and Bubbles the Villa won 3-1. In 1922 West Ham played Swansea three times in the FA Cup with a game at both grounds and a replay at Ashton Gate in Bristol. It could be therefore that the Hammers supporters adopted the song after this. In those days of friendly rivalry it was possible that both sets of supporters would have sung Bubbles and swayed to join in the fun. There was a close affinity between the two clubs. The old grounds were similar and the areas surrounding them were industrial and working class and each could identify with the other.

Sheet Music - Postcard 01 Sheet Music - Postcard 02 Sheet Music - Postcard 03 Sheet Music - Postcard 04

Other memorabilia associated with the West Ham United theme tune "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles"

The Bubbles Legend - 1999

THE "BUBBLES" LEGEND : The True Story (Graham Murray)

Is the story really true or just a legend?

 

I should know. I am proud to say that Will 'Bubbles' Murray was my father.

 

He was a modest man with whom I stood on the Upton Park terraces on many occasions in the fifties and sixties, singing and swaying to the haunting refrains of the famous West Ham theme tune, 'I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles'. It was typical of the man that he never sang the words of the song and it was left to my mother to relate the story of it's origin to me. Oh, what memories must have passed through his mind as the supporters sang to their team!

 

Sadly, "Bubbles" Murray died in 1974 but his memory lives on every time the West Ham crowd burst forth into their famous song. It was, possibly one of the first football songs and certainly one which has endured through the years to echo the hopes and disappointment of the West Ham crowd.

 

It is quite remarkable that generations of loyal supporters have sung this song over a period of some 80 years in support of a team which will often flatter to deceive and in the words of the song, just like those bubbles, they 'fade and die'.

 

Graham Murray

The aim of this 26 page booklet published in 1999 was to provide a definitive historical document for supporters of West Ham United Football Club who may wonder about the origin of their theme tune "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles".

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Bamforth Postcards

Song Sheet 04 spprpr010 Blowing Bubbles

Sport Print Products

Greeting Card (2011)

Brian Belton Theory