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We all love a good TV soundtrack, and one of the most loved and famous on Merseyside has to be the theme from Z-Cars, better known as Everton Football Club’s anthem.
Invisible flutes are enthusiastically played at every opportunity by fans of The Blues, so it’s easy to forget this whole legacy began with a BBC show about a mobile police squad.
In January 1962, Z-Cars, a TV series depicting the work of a fictious mobile police unit based in Lancashire was an instant hit with viewers. This was a grittier, less sympathetic, portrayal of police work than ever before, and despite an initial wave of controversy, viewers were hooked, especially those who appreciated the show’s regional flavour.
The show brought a northern accent and a more realistic sensibility to the BBC, in direct opposition to reigning cop show, Dixon of Dock Green. The Z-Car’s title was based on Lancashire’s police divisions which were alphabetised north-to-south, with many of the location scenes filmed in Kirkby, which was then still considered part of Lancashire.
The title track itself was based on an old Liverpool sea shanty called Johnny Todd, which dates back to 1891 and tells the story of a cuckolded sailor. The instrumental TV version was composed by Liverpool-based, Austrian-born musician and journalist, Fritz Spiegl.
On 7 March 1962, a revamped version of the Z-Cars theme was released, aimed squarely at the pop charts with the inclusion of the now-famous klaxons, reaching number eight.
In November that same year, a few days before his tragic death, EFC fan and Z-Cars actor, Leonard Williams from West Derby, the only genuine Scouser among the cast, playing Sgt. Percy Twentyman, was formerly invited to watch Everton play Blackpool.
As Everton famously went on to win the 1963 league, with the song about the boys in blue becoming synonymous with this great season for EFC’s boys in blue, it was loyally adopted by supporters, not only in memory of their win, but of their famous supporter, Leonard Williams.
During the 1994-95 season, Peter Johnson, former Everton Chairman, replaced Z-Cars with a new anthem. Fanfare for the Common Man was devised in 1942 by Aaron Copland, inspired by a speech made by US Vice President Henry A. Wallace.
As a result, other teams adopted Z-Cars as their theme until it was re-introduced by Joe Royle on his return to the club in November 1994. And we’re sure you’ll agree, that’s just the way it needs to be.
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