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World Cup DJ tweaks playlist after Chesney Hawkes lifts England’s bid for glory

World Cup DJ Tony Perry believes Chesney Hawkes could help soundtrack England’s bid for glory after he added the star’s anthem The One And Only to his Three Lions playlist (Tony Perry/PA)
World Cup DJ Tony Perry believes Chesney Hawkes could help soundtrack England’s bid for glory after he added the star’s anthem The One And Only to his Three Lions playlist (Tony Perry/PA)

A World Cup DJ believes Chesney Hawkes could help soundtrack England’s bid for glory after he added the star’s anthem The One And Only to his Three Lions playlist.

Eurodance classic Freed From Desire by Gala has been the go-to song for England when they score in Qatar, while Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline is often played when they win.

But Tony Perry has been making tweaks to his stadium playlist, including adding Hawkes’ 1991 hit after the singer’s surprise half-time cameo during the match against Wales.

The 36-year-old, from London, was on the decks for the game, which England won 3-0, and is one of two DJs who will keep fans entertained until the end of the tournament.

FIFA World Cup 2022
Tony Perry is one of the official World Cup stadium DJs (Tony Perry/PA)

He said he hopes to give the Christmas version of Three Lions, a reimagining of the 1996 hit by David Baddiel, Frank Skinner and rock band The Lightning Seeds, an airing in Qatar.

He added that La Bamba is another possible option should Harry Maguire score, given there is a chant in honour of the defender to the tune of the Mexican folk song.

Mr Perry, who hopes to DJ for England’s second round clash with Senegal on Sunday, said he has been loving the “relentless” experience after working at 13 games in the opening 12 days of the tournament.

Describing his “very surreal” and “incredible” World Cup adventure, he said it has included former England and Manchester United defender Gary Neville shouting at him to “make sure you play more Chesney Hawkes”.

Mr Perry, speaking to the PA news agency in Doha, said of meeting Hawkes: “We had a good chat – he came on at half-time, did his thing and the atmosphere completely changed.

“We’ve got music set from Fifa, and I had a chat with them before I got here to kind of get everything approved – you’ve got to run everything past them, but there’s a little bit of leeway.

“In the same way that I played Sweet Caroline at the Euros, after we beat Wales I thought ‘I’m going to have to play The One And Only’, it’s the only song you can play at full-time.

“It was great, it was a positive thing, and then we played Sweet Caroline and I played Tyson Fury’s version – and people were like ‘Why did you play that?’ and it’s because it’s for a mental health charity.”

Mr Perry said he is “starting to get quite a positive feeling like the Euros” for England, adding about Hawkes: “I think he has to be added to the fraternity of England Spotify playlists – Chesney has to be on there.

“I got some banter from Baddiel and Skinner about playing Sweet Caroline now instead of Three Lions, but I think the Christmas version is ready and waiting if England progress.”

He added: “It has to get done because the lads were singing ‘Jingle all the way, oh what fun it is to see England win away’, which was class.”

Mr Perry, who has spent eight of his 20 years as a DJ working at sporting events, also joked: “If Harry Maguire scores I’d definitely like to play La Bamba – I was hoping I’d get the chance to do that the other day.”

He highlighted how songs can become attached to “iconic” football moments, adding: “If England go on to win it, Chesney Hawkes is going to become part of England folklore out of nowhere.”

He added: “It wouldn’t have resonated if it was England versus France – only half of the crowd are going to know it. As much as Chesney’s a ledge, I don’t know if they know The One And Only, so that England-Wales game, you’ve hit the sweet spot.

“I hope they get him back.”

England midfielder Declan Rice has said he wants to see Hawkes sing at half-time in all of England’s matches at the World Cup and is hoping to land the artist a number one hit.

Wales v England – FIFA World Cup 2022 – Group B – Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium
Chesney Hawkes provided the half-time entertainment during the England v Wales match (Adam Davy/PA)

Hawkes is back in the UK to perform at Butlin’s in Skegness on Saturday, but he hopes to return to Qatar for England’s game with Senegal.

Speaking from Surrey, he told PA: “I’ll be going direct from Skegness to get an early flight from Heathrow to get over to Doha in time for the match, so that’s the plan at the moment.

“It’s still not confirmed… Whether that will happen or not, I don’t know, but I think whatever happens I’ll be there for the game; whether I perform or not is another thing.”

Mr Perry, who remains neutral at games as he is tasked with entertaining all supporters in the grounds, said he has “learnt a lot” about the impact different types of music have had on the fans of each nation.

“With Argentina, for example, they don’t want to know what you’re playing – they are so loud. They turn up three hours before the game, let them drive the ship.

“I even said to my director ‘Look, don’t keep putting me on camera, it’s going to antagonise them. Let them sing their songs. I’ve got the tracks I know they like and we’ll play them at the right time.’

“But then we had the Swiss and the French who all enjoy the same music, and we had the stadium absolutely rocking 20 minutes before kick-off – both sets of fans.”

Mr Perry said the French and Swiss fans enjoy similar music to England fans, including Gala and the White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army.