As Gun Violence Persists, It’s Time to Stop Singing “Take ’em All”



Op-Ed: If you’ve sat in or adjacent to the South Ward at Red Bull Arena, you have undoubtedly heard the Red Bulls supporters’ rendition of Cock Sparrer’s 1982 classic “Take ‘em All.” It can be heard at every home game, usually once in each half. The lyrics are easy to remember and the tune is catchy, making it a staple of the South Ward songbook.

Take ‘em all, take ‘em all,

Put ‘em up against a wall and shoot ‘em.

Short and tall, watch ‘em fall,

C’mon boys take ‘em all.

Take ‘em all, watch them fall…

But over the last few years—as countless lives have been lost in senseless mass shootings across America—the song’s lyrics have begun to carry a darker weight. Do Red Bulls supporters openly advocate the mass execution of people with guns? Of course they don’t. Yet, this song continues to be sung in the South Ward, as it undoubtedly will be sung on Sunday, regardless of the reception to this editorial.

I’d imagine some of the RBNY supporters—particularly those who prefer a black wardrobe— will say that the song doesn’t advocate violence, it’s only meant to motivate the players. Is that really true? Sure, the players feed off the noise of the South Ward, but do they also feed off the lyrics of the songs? I don’t think Gideon Baah is analyzing the lyrical prowess of Cock Sparrer when he’s chasing down an opposing forward.

Is the song for intimidating visiting supporters? Can they even hear it at the opposite end of the stadium while they themselves are singing? And if they can hear it, are they to reasonably believe that the the phrase “put ‘em up against a wall and shoot ‘em,” is only in jest?

Then who is it for? Fans of English punk who want to imprint their influences on their supporters group? Self-proclaimed ultras who preach intimidation—either aurally or physically? Or perhaps it’s for fans who can learn five lines of a punk song but won’t take the two minutes it takes to learn the Spanish words to “Vamos, Vamos Metro?”

Red Bulls supporters (and other SG’s, such as Seattle’s Emerald City Supporters, who are also fond of “Take ’em All”) can’t be that obtuse. Fans can come to a match to escape the horrifying political landscape outside Red Bull Arena, but that doesn’t mean that they should be completely oblivious, insensitive, and ignorant about the world at large once they pass through the turnstile. Supporters groups should be reflective of the changing culture at large. You can’t have a moment of silence expressing solace about 49 people shot to death in an Orlando gay nightclub, then 15 minutes later sing “put ’em up against a wall and shoot ’em.” It’s utterly abhorrent and spectacularly embarrassing.

It’s not like eliminating “Take ’em All” would be the first time the RBNY supporters groups had self-edited their own songbook. It was not all that long ago that a few homophobic chants were commonly heard around the South Ward. The culture of the country had changed and many members—not just gay members—expressed unease with these songs. By 2012, these homophobic chants had been phased out completely. The same thing needs to happen now.

We’re better than this. At least I hope we’re better than this.

The fans of the South Ward have the most eclectic songbook in all of Major League Soccer and they have contributed more songs to the league’s repertoire than most SG’s around the country recognize or are willing to admit. There are more than enough songs to carry them through 90 minutes of soccer.

We don’t need this song. Nobody needs this song. It is long past the time to retire “Take ‘em All”…but only if the supporters have the courage to do so.

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  • Mark Fishkin

    Agreed 100%.

  • Jaby

    Come on stop this you can’t involve sports with the racist violence this is only a game it’s only an sport who ever made this comment is the one who mix politics with sports stop stop with this article your calling more violence the world is all ready enough violent to serve as a bridge to the unadapted 🤔🤔🤔💪💪✊🏿✊🏿👅👅👅📢🆘🆘🆘🚫🚫🚫🔞🔞🔞🚨🚨🚨⚽️⚽️⚽️🔚🔜

  • Tim

    Maybe just change “shoot” to something else to change the context slightly. I don’t think its necessary to get rid of the entire song. Its a RBA classic and 99% of the song is fine.

  • Goodfella

    Good piece, makes sense.

  • Mike Saavedra

    Congrats on your newly found white knight status and the amazing amount of social brownie points you have achieved with this article.

  • troy

    I think that scrubbing everything we do clean so that no one complains is not the right idea. If the South Ward chooses to stop singing this then so be it. But let them do it because they choose not to, not because some with delicate sensibilities can’t handle words. Should they stop playing all songs that talk about gun violence? Of course not.

  • Southward member

    How about we stop singing for the Metro, this team is the New york red bulls, also stop with the **** DC also the word is also banned by MLS. how about that. stop bill

    • Wake the f-ck up

      Or we can accept the fact that we are adults & should behave responsibly. Sometimes the fans of the local teams act like they are auditioning for the role of a hooligan on a BBC TV series. Grow up and sing a different song.

      • Southward member

        Maybe you are the one that needs to grow up. The song will stay in Southward you like or not. #metroisdead.

  • Stupid Article

    and let’s get rid of all alcohol
    and let’s get rid of all meat & animal products
    and let’s get rid of any profanity and salty language

    Plastic McFootball for families

  • This article sucks

    Put the writer up against a wall…….

  • Popcorn Poppin\’

    I’m just here for the comments!!!

  • Tim

    How about this? If you want to sing it, go ahead. If you don’t want to sing it, then don’t….plain and simple. Let everyone choose for themselves.

    If it is really that offensive, then most of the people will choose not to sing it and it will eventually get faded out. If that happens, no one will complain. But don’t tell others that they cant or shouldn’t sing it, that is just your opinion.

    • Tim

      changing the worlds could be a nice compromise from people on both sides of the argument though

  • Tim

    Isn’t there another song condoning cocaine, Marijuana, and prostitution. Drug abuse, addiction, and human trafficking are very real problems and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

    Watch your step there, Bill. Don’t want to fall off your pedestal.

  • Sammy the Red Bull

    I honestly couldn’t care if the song is sung at every game or never gets sung again, either way, I don’t go to the games for the songs. But it is sung in a “sporting” context. It’s no different than when you say you hate a player or want to kill a team. It’s said in a sporting context and is not meant to be taken literally. I thought as adults, most of us had grasped that concept, apparently Bill Reese and others have not.

    Please keep the politics and the social statements out of sports, just enjoy the game.

  • rest of world

    The problem is Congress and the NRA, it’s not what folks are or are not doing at soccer games. Let’s sit on our hands because that’s the problem???

  • Binks

    How about everyone sit down and enjoy the soccer and wait for their softserve ice cream sundaes?

    This is (yet again) another internet douche nonsupporter (If you care you don’t get it) driven, nonsense that RUINS supporter culture.

    Now go hug and talk about your feels on the Reddit. /meanpeople

  • Miles

    This is my favorite chant of all and we sing it in Seattle at least once per match. Are you next suggesting we should change the wording of a player “taking a shot on goal”
    There’s a worldwide culture of hating each other in the name of sport. No one is going to love all the players on every team and just go to a match to watch two great teams play and be happy no matter the result.
    It’s a cheeky way to pump up your team and get a rise out of the opposition. If you can’t separate that from an unrelated tragic loss of life, then you should probably go bury your head in the sand as to avoid any contact with a negative piece of the world.

  • Good morning. Revolution fan here so I don’t get much of a say on what you do (as long as you keep the really horrid stuff out of your chants :)), but I did want to say, we can’t hear a single word you’re singing on our away trips ;)

  • J T

    The lyrics of Cock Sparer’s “Take Em All” has zero/ no references to firearms or gun violence. We are soccer supporters singing our own rendition of this song. You can interpret the any way you’d like.

    I always thought put the opposition up against a free kick wall and shoot soccer balls at them was a clever interpretation with a nod to the game of soccer.

    This is an angry, energetic, and passionate song that has been a south ward staple for the post 5+ years. It is a tradition we need to keep in our song book for years to come.

  • Llyod\’s suitcase

    Let’s play a game with this, replace the word “shoot” and see how it sounds. First thing that came to my mind was the word “f**K” but that might be too much for some. We could placate and sanitize with the word “Thank” (hell no) , which made me think of “Shank”, could appeal to the ex-con supporters. “smoke em”, “flog em” ,”kill em” ,”waste em”, “screw em”, “stamp”, “beat” or “troll em” lol .

    I still like “shoot em” the best. It doesn’t describe the style of the mad gunman attacks that are becoming all too common nor does it describe the police violence that is too common either, it’s more like an illegal act of an organized force. The chant has a raw energy with a devil may care attitude, a win at all costs message. Do I have to say it’s not meant to be taken literally.

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