I’m swallowing flies and thick lead petrol
Kendon Hill is a steep hill in Wales, James’ birth country and, as pointed out by dai in the comments, running up the hill was a frequent part of the training routine used by the boxers in the nearby boxing club. Which ties to Joe Calzaghe, namechecked in the lyrics, who is a Welsh boxer. Nothing of any interest seemed to have happened to him around 2006, the single’s release year: he retired in 2009 and before that had a successful career with a healthy amount of ups and downs, very standard to any regular sportsman. Reading the lyrics literally, Victory and Defeat seems like a song about jogging to the top of Kendon Hill, thinking one’s never going to make it to the top but finally succeeding in it after a long, exhausting ‘battle’ against the uphill path. Whether it’s in character, James comparing himself to one of the boxers in a metaphor sort of way or simply reliving some old memories is up in the air.
That’s about the most interesting thing in the song though. It’s a rocker that wouldn’t have gone amiss as a b-side on a Manics single, most of the sheen of its surrounding era taken away and relying more on the traditional rock trio of instruments. The lead guitar sound on the path that leads to the chorus is quite lovely and suffice to say, the chorus itself does lodge itself into one’s head in a pleasing way should you let it do so. The production’s a bit shoddy but I can’t say if it’s present on the original track or if it’s just the vinyl rip I have (thanks very much, vinyl only b-sides).