Iceland’s ‘Viking War Cry’ Is Cool, But Where It Came From Will Surprise You

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Iceland’s ‘Viking War Cry’ Is Cool, But Where It Came From Will Surprise You

Credit: Getty Images

So not only were Iceland better than England at the football (if you disagree you're deluded), they also had one of the coolest war cries I've ever heard in football.

Credit: Getty Images/ Bertrand Langlois


During every Iceland game (I'd seen all their games in bits and pieces before England's match too), every 10 minutes or so I'd hear this loud clapping sound and a 'aaaooohh' shout that would fit well in 300. It sounds bloody awesome! This is the supporters during the match against England:

Here is a video at the end of the match, with the Icelandic players and their excellent fans.


Credit: RM Fans

While we were chuntering about Harry Kane, the Premier League's top goalscorer taking corners, and how Raheem Sterling runs around like Bambi, they were fully behind their team with this awesome chant that reverberated around the whole stadium.

Iceland's backing of its team is fully understandable as expectations are different. One of their two managers is also a dentist, the population is 0.5 percent of England's, give or take, and none of their players, even Swansea's Gylfi Sigurdsson, are on stupid wages like Sterling or Rooney. Want to hate Sterling even more? Click here.

But back to the history of their chant.


Well, it's been called a 'Viking War Chant' so you assume it's steeped in Icelandic culture as an age-old cry of fierceness and ferociousness. Well, the reality is that this is very far off the mark.

Credit: Getty Images/Catherine Ivill

It's from Motherwell supporters. Yes, that's right, the cry was inspired by everyone at Fir Park, North Lanarkshire. So a Scottish influence was at the stadium after all, which will delight the Scots no doubt.


Don't believe me?

Pretty cool, right?

The Motherwell Bois have been doing it for years. Less Viking, more Celtic. (As in the Celts! Please don't abuse me thinking I know absolutely nothing at all about Scottish football).


So why the hell are they using their chants?

Remember that Iceland does not have a professional football club (just a reminder, England lost to them), but they did have a Reykjakiv-based club of semi-pros come to Motherwell in the Europa League in 2014. The Stjarnan supporters loved the chant so much that they, and the nation, adopted it as its own.

If you've not heard of the club, you've seen their celebrations. It's the club that is world-renowned for bringing its A-game party to the table.

There's the landing of the fish.

And the human bicycle:

The team is comprised of utter legends! There are more to show but I don't want a video overload for you.

And, it appears, Stjarnan also made its own fairy tale in the Europa League, getting past Motherwell and then Lech Poznań to have a tie against Italian giants Inter Milan to get to the group stages. Internazionale got through.


So as the 'Viking War Cry' is actually just a couple of years old for the Icelandic people, I thought I'd look at some other dances and cries that are famous in sport around the world. The other main cries are more prevalent in rugby. These stem from traditional tribes and cultures in each respective country and have a real story behind them, with the Pacific Nations employing these dances and cries the most. The most famous of these are Tonga's Sipi Tau and, of course, New Zealand's Haka. They are both great in themselves, and when they come together, it's beyond awesome.

Here are the two teams facing off:

Credit: World Rugby

That, is bloody awesome!

The Samoans also have their own cry, the Siva Tau. The national Australian football team also uses it.

In its modern context, all of these are used to intimidate opponents and, depending on the version of the Haka, it translates as thus.

Ka mate, ka mate (You die, you die)

Ko ora' Ka ora' (I live, I live)

Ka mate, ka mate (You die, you die)

Ko ora' Ka ora' (I live, I live)

Tēnei te tangata pūhuruhuru (This is the hairy man)

Nāna ne I tiki mai whakawhiti te rā (...Who caused the sun to shine again for me)

A Upane! Ka Upane! (Up the ladder, Up the ladder)

A Upane Kaupane" (Up to the top)

Whiti te rā,! (The sun shines)

Hī! (Rise!)

You can't really say fairer than that.

Haka.Credit: Getty Images/Anthony Al-Yeung

The Haka originated as a traditional war cry of the Māori people, aboriginal descendants from New Zealand. Like in rugby, when you see people screaming and stomping that at you, it's no surprise opponents/enemies/invaders quake in terror.

The Sipi Tau, also known as the Kailko, serves a similar purpose in Tongan culture, as an expression of a war cry.

Sipi Tau. Credit: Getty Images/Ryan Pierse

Lyrics include:

Let the foreigner and sojourner beware

Today, destroyer of souls, I am everywhere

To the halfback and backs

Gone has my humanness.

Hey! hey! Aye ay! Zap.

Again, the lyrics show a defiance against the 'foreigner'.

Lastly, the Samoan Sivi Tau includes these cries:

Here I come completely prepared

My strength is at its peak

Make way and move aside

Because this Manu is unique...

The Manu!

All pretty scary shit, and a great spectacle before the start of a match.

Who knows, maybe in 1,000 years, the Icelandic 'Viking War Cry' may have a similar amount of history with it, but, for now, they just pinched it off the Motherwell Bois.


Words Patrick Hulbert

Topics: Raheem Sterling

Patrick Hulbert
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