Nice One Cyril

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"Nice One Cyril"
Single by Cockerel Chorus
B-side "Cyril Marches On"
Released February 1973
Format 7" Single
Genre Singalong, Football
Label Young Blood International
Songwriter(s) Harold Spiro, Helen Clarke
Producer(s) Martin Clarke[1]

"Nice One Cyril" is a single by Cockerel Chorus written by Harold Spiro and Helen Clarke. The song title is a reference to Cyril Knowles, a left back who played for Tottenham Hotspur. It was released before the 1973 Football League Cup Final where Tottenham played Norwich City. It reached No. 14 on the British single chart after Tottenham won, and its writers Spiro and Clarke received an Ivor Novello Award for Best Novel or Unusual Song in 1974.[2][3]


In 1972, Wonderloaf Bread created a television advertising campaign written by Peter Mayle with the slogan "Nice one, Cyril", where the slogan was used to congratulate a baker named Cyril for making a good loaf of bread.[4][5][6] The slogan was picked by fans of the football club Tottenham Hotspur, who chanted "Nice one Cyril" to praise a Tottenham player named Cyril Knowles.[6][7] Harold Spiro, a fan of the club, wrote the song with Helen Clarke based on the slogan. The following year in 1973, Tottenham reached the League Cup Final, and the song was released. The song was performed by the Cockerel Chorus (the cockerel is the emblem of Tottenham Hotspur) fronted by Spiro, with Jamie Phillips singing the opening operatic part.[8]

Chart performance[edit]

The song was released before the League Cup Final, and entered the chart at No. 43 on 24 February 1973. It peaked at No. 14 a month later after Tottenham won the League Cup 1–0 against Norwich on 3 March 1973.[9]

Popular culture[edit]

Due to the popularity of the TV slogan and the song, "Nice one Cyril" became a popular catchphrase in the 1970s used to praise someone.[10][11] In Cockney rhyming slang it was adopted to mean "squirrel",[12] and it was the title of the autobiography of Cyril Fletcher,[13] The phrase continued to be used in later decades, but limited to those named Cyril or similar; the refrain of the song "Nice one Cyril, nice one son" was used as a tribute to another footballer Cyrille Regis in 2018.[14]


  1. ^ "Cockerel Chorus - Nice One Cyril". Discogs.
  2. ^ "Two in U.K. Get Writer Novellos". Billboard. 1 June 1974.
  3. ^ "The Ivors 1974". The Ivors.
  4. ^ Parkinson, Judy (1 October 2003). Catchphrase, Slogan and Cliche. Michael O'Mara Books Ltd. ISBN 978-1843170631.
  5. ^ Newland, Francesca (1 October 1999). "Martin Reavley, the co-creator of "Nice one Cyril", dies at 51". Campaign.
  6. ^ a b Seddon, Peter (1 August 2004). Football Talk: The Language & Folklore of the World's Greatest Game. Robson Books Ltd. ISBN 978-1861056832.
  7. ^ Elizabeth Knowles, ed. (23 August 2007). Oxford Dictionary of Modern Quotations. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0199208951.
  8. ^ Hilliard, Ernie (29 October 2013). "The Cockerel Chorus". Spurs Web.
  9. ^ "Cockerel Chorus". The Official Charts Company.
  10. ^ Tom Dalzell, Terry Victor, eds. (5 December 2005). The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English: J-Z (9th ed.). Routledge. p. 1366. ISBN 978-0415259385.
  11. ^ Partridge, Eric. A Dictionary of Catch Phrases. Routledge. ISBN 9781134929986.
  12. ^ Smith, Daniel. The Language of London: Cockney Rhyming Slang.
  13. ^ Fletcher, Cyril (1978). Nice One Cyril: Being the Odd Odessey and the Anecdotage of a Comedian. Random House. ISBN 0-214-20581-9.
  14. ^ White, Jim (30 January 2018). "Cyrille Regis memorial service: 'He helped to change hearts and minds'". The Daily Telegraph.