For those old enough to remember, it’s the football song that sets the pulses racing for All Whites supporters.
Heading for the Top was a feel-good single that went into the New Zealand pop charts 40 years ago, raising awareness (and about $5,000 in royalties) for the All Whites as they battled their way through 15 qualifying games to get to the 1982 FIFA World Cup finals in Spain.
The singer was football-loving Ray Woolf; the arrangement was by award-winning musician Carl Doy; the backing singers were members of the ’82 All Whites.
The flip side of the vinyl recording was Marching on to Spain, sung by the All Whites and entertainer Tina Cross.
The songs were played on radio, television and at Mt Smart Stadium, the home ground for the team.
With our 2022 All Whites about to start their World Cup campaign, it’s timely we re-sample the song that cheered us up in 1982 and gave us another lift in 2010 when Woolf performed it on Campbell Live as we celebrated New Zealand holding world champions Italy to a draw.
Turn up the volume; get behind the team; sing it loud!
Footnote: Ray Woolf, who is now 76, emigrated to New Zealand from England in 1962, and was voted NZ Entertainer of the Year in 1975. He received the NZ Order of Merit in 2008 after a successful career as a recording artist and television actor and entertainer.
… and for those who prefer the original recording
… and now try the B side … “KIWIS … ALL WHITES”
The song Marching on to Spain was written by Vince Harris, a Brentford fan who supported the New Zealanders through their long qualifying campaign.
A former member of the band service of the Royal Marines for 26 years, he used his ear for a song to write the memorable lyrics that helped cement the nickname All Whites.
Harris, now 90, told the Herald’s Michael Burgess he recalls taking the song to campaign chief executive Harry Dods and football administrator Charlie Dempsey.
“I took the manuscript and they liked it,” says Harris. “I remember Harry saying to Charlie, ‘Are you happy with this, giving the team a name?’ He said ‘yes, of course.”
Midfielder Keith “Buzzer” Mackay recalls going into the recording studio.
“We were into it – it was something to do, getting out of the hotel. It was good; we had our own sort of song and it was a bit of a laugh.”
Judge for yourself …
More football stories