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The Greatest Sports Theme Tune Bracket - Round 1

The Greatest Sports Theme Tune Bracket - Round 1
By Michael McCarthy
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Here it is, at last.

We want to find out, once and for all, the greatest theme song for any sport.

Over the past few months, we have tirelessly consulted luminaries in the world of sport, music and television to come up with the seedings for the best television theme tune for sporting events or programmes, and have produced the definitive Top 32 which have qualified for the inaugural Balls-O-Vision Song Contest.

Ok, that's not strictly true. We just made them up last week. But luckily, this is where our involvement ends. The bracket has been made, and the rest is up to you.

We'll be back with the last 16 on Tuesday evening, so get voting. The final will take place on Friday.

Match 1:

Match Of The Day (1) vs. ITV's The Premiership (32)

A massive football highlights derby in the first round. Who'd have thought it? The Magic of The Balls-O-Vision!


MOTD is naturally heavy favourite, and something we imagine we will be discussing more as the week goes on.


A classic.


ITV's "The Premiership" are the equivalent of non-league no-hopers going to Old Trafford, if we are to continue this tired analogy. This was the annoying Match of the Day with ad breaks we had to put up with for a couple of years in the early part of the century. Des Lynam had jumped ship from the BBC, but his nights in studio with Ron Atkinson just weren't the same.


The song they chose was an equally lightweight choice, opting for a well known, popular song, that would never become iconic just for its presence on a football show. In truth, The Premiership has no place on this poll.


But we don't want to influence your vote...



Match 2: 

The Sunday Game (2) vs. NBA on ESPN/ABC (31)

We expect the Sunday Game to go all the way to the final.

The best the NBA has to offer sets up the tension and excitement of a big game very well, but the Sunday Game is iconic, and almost unbeatable. It seems the only people who didn't know that was whoever was running the show for those dark years of the early 2000s when the song was abandoned.


Thankfully, common sense prevailed, as it will here in a straight forward round 1 matchup.





Match 3:

Grandstand (3) vs. BBC Darts (30)

The first all-BBC tie of the first round.

Grandstand is one of the great institutions of sporting theme tunes, though we fear its absence from the current era could affect it in the voting.


Practically every sport had its own iconic BBC theme tune in the old days. For us, the darts was the weakest of them, but that probably says more about the quality to come than this fine effort.



Match 4: 

The Champions League (4) vs. RTE's The Premiership (29)

An legendary theme tune that has the advantage of being played across all jurisdictions against a very short lived intro to a show not that many people watched about 15 years ago.

It would seem that RTE's specially commissioned this piece of music for the show with the imaginative lyrics "Gonna take you on" repeated over and over again. It wasn't very popular at the time, but like a fine wine, it has aged with time. Or at least it might have. This could be the most one sided tie in the first round.




Match 5: 

Sports Stadium (5) vs. NFL Monday Night Football / Superstars (28)

Is there a chance of a shock here?

Sports Stadium is the highest seed in the competition whose theme song was also an 80s hit for a Swedish glam rock band. The Final Countdown is iconic is Ireland as the sound of Saturday afternoon's AIL action with horse racing from Fairyhouse.


It goes up against a double whammy here though. The theme tune for American football's Monday Night Football is an institution in the US, but in this part of the world, it will strike a chord too as it was also the theme song to Superstars, the cross sports competition of the '80s in which Pat Spillane and his farmer's tan appeared.





Match 6:

Gazzetta Football Italia (6) vs. Soccer AM (27)

Channel 4's Italian football coverage is fondly remembered for lots of reasons, but probably none more then their entrance theme. The "GOOOOOOOLLLLLAAAZZZO" at the end is still most people's go-to when thinking of Italian football.


Soccer AM generally leaves a bad taste with people these days, but it had its moments in the early days and one place they always got it right was in their opening music. Probably not dynamic or catchy enough to get to the business end of this competition, but it's a sound that says "Saturday morning" to us.




Match 7: 

The Rugby World Cup (7) vs. Sky Monday Night Football, 1992-1997 (26)

The Rugby World Cup record different versions of the same song, "World in Union", for every World Cup. Some are a lot better than others,but the tune is always fantastic. It's a song synonymous with rugby this stage, and definitely gets the feels going.


The themes in the early days of Sky's football coverage were very simple, but somehow they worked. The background music covering a Richard Keys intro of a match was a great way to make a game between Ipswich and Wimbledon sound like the biggest game ever played. In our opinion, the Super Sunday effort was superior to the Monday night offering, but that's up to you to decide.





Match 8:

Test Match Special/BBC Cricket (8) vs. A Question of Sport (25)

Another BBC clash. The BBC cricket theme, now sadly confined to radio, is one of the best (and most appropriate to its sport) show openings in history.

One drawback is BBC's constant fiddling with the instruments used in the tune, but even so, it screams cricket!


A Question of Sport's music might sound like something you'd accidentally produce on your keyboard, but great all the same.



Match 9: 

BBC Golf (9) vs. NFL on CBS (24)

A very interesting clash here. The two sports would be a massive clash of styles, but interestingly, both themes go for big noise!

The NFL crowd get these right. Their themes just scream "EVENT!". How could you not watch?


The golf music, though, just transports you to Sunday at the Masters, and it can't be heard without also hearing the voice of Peter Alliss.



Match 10:

BBC Formula 1 (10) vs. The Big Match, 1974-80 (23)

The Chain by Fleetwood Mac was the Formula 1 sound of our youth. An absolutely perfect accompaniment to the high powered entertainment that would follow.


ITV's "The Big Match" had a far more iconic (and better!) intro theme in its early days which we'll get to later, but this version is certainly worthy of consideration too.



Match 11: 

ITV's World of Sport (11) vs. The Masters on CBS (22)

The World of Sport music is probably better known by our generation as music that would be aped by Baddiel and Skinner.


"Hello Friends", are you ready for the back 9 on Sunday at Augusta? It's the kind of over-the-top music with a dramatic voiceover that makes the Masters both great and terrible.



Match 12:

NFL on Fox (12) vs. Super Sunday, 2009-11 (21)

The gold standard in NFL theme songs, the Fox theme is our highest ranked American entry.


That's up against probably the best of the modern era of Super Sunday music. Sky used Club Foot by Kasabian for two years and the song still just screams football.



Match 13: 

Ski Sunday (13) vs. Sky Sports Darts (20)

We're getting into the most competitive first round fixtures now.

Not many of us have ever watched Ski Sunday on the BBC, but that makes the popularity of the theme song all the more impressive. A staple in any list of great TV themes even outside of sport, it's a strong contender here. Working against it though, it feels more like the Antiques Roadshow than sport.


Sky's darts song isn't even really their theme. They just play if before ad breaks. It is The Darts Song though, and is probably the most associated any song is with a particular sport.


Match 14: 

BBC Snooker (14) vs. RTE Rugby (19)

The BBC snooker theme is an absolute classic that, again, has been messed with overtime in a misguided attempt at modernisation.  The original, though, is perfection.


We struggled to find the music we know and love for RTE Rugby. Then, randomly, we discovered the music used is Hans Zimmer's theme for the Backdraft, a film.

Inspired choice by RTE. The sound of the Six Nations.




Match 15:

The Big Match, 1968-72 (15) vs. Wimbledon (18)

Someone will be going home earlier than they should here.

The original music for The Big Match was insanely good. It was just pure Swinging '60s London, free love, drugs, girls in mini-skirts dancing on platforms, and yet it was a football theme. Fantastic.


But that goes against an old classic. The Wimbledon music was definitely not part of the hippy scene in 60s London, but it has its own traditional charm. Tough choice here.


Match 16: 

Super Sunday, 1992-97 (16) vs. Channel 4 Racing (17)

The last match-up of Round 1, and one of the hardest to call. Super Sunday's original music was a lesson in building to a crescendo and would have you up the walls for Spurs and Crystal Palace two hours before it kicked off.


But up against that is the sound of Cheltenham. Channel 4 did everything well in their horse racing coverage and their opening theme was no different. The last note alone just makes this a massive favourite of ours.


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