Our ‘Ever Wonder’ series will run throughout the 2022-23 Premier League season and focuses on key stories behind the history, tradition and culture of all 20 Premier League clubs.
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Have you ever sat there and wondered why certain chants became iconic at a club? Why a team has a certain nickname? Why they play in those colors? How they were founded? Yep, us too.
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This season we will be digging deep to tell the stories of the rich history, tradition and culture from around the Premier League and give you the answers to things you want to know more about.
Ever Wonder why West Ham fans sing ‘I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles’?
Have you ever wondered why West Ham’s fans sing loudly and proudly about blowing bubbles? The reason they sing it will blow your mind, and bubbles, of course, but mostly your mind…
When the bubble machine gets going and fans fire up the famous chant at West Ham before a game and at the start of the second half and after a big win, it is something very special, and bizarre.
History of the song
The song was originally written and composed around 1919 in the USA by Jaan Kenbrovin and John William Kellette. It was a hit on both sides of the Atlantic and was very popular in musical halls in the 1920s.
According to club records, West Ham’s fans started to sing the song at games in the mid 1920s.
But why? Yep, it is a curious question which has a wild answer.
How did it become linked with West Ham?
Schoolboy football was very popular in east London and in particular around West Ham’s home at Upton Park.
The headmaster of Park School, which was located right next to Upton Park and was very successful, was Mr Cornelius Beal. A football fanatic, Beal was close friends with West Ham United trainer, and later manager, Charlie Paynter.
Nicknamed ‘Corney’, the headmaster wrote his own version of ‘Bubbles’ and fans watching Park School would sing the song and place the name of whichever player was excelling into the song.
The legacy of William ‘Bubbles’ Murray
One player who excelled for Park School was William ‘Bubbles’ Murray. He was nicknamed ‘Bubbles’ because he looked very similar to a painting which was used in a Pears Soap advert. Seriously.
Bubbles never played for West Ham’s first team but many of his teammates, such as West Ham legends Jim Barrett and Syd Puddefoot, did.
However, ‘Bubbles’ was inextricably linked with that group of young stars who went on to make it at West Ham but he played a key part in the clubs’ identity over 100 years later.
Soap advert lookalike leads to a cult hero, and song
So there you have it.
West Ham’s famous anthem, “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles” became popular, and is synonymous with the club, because of a star schoolboy player in east London in the 1920s, who never actually played for West Ham’s first team but was lauded because he looked like a character in a soap advert.
The next time you hear “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles” belted out, think of William ‘Bubbles’ Murray.
The local lad who never made it to the first team on the pitch, but his West Ham legacy has lasted for over 100 years. And counting.