Skip to main content

11. AFL FAQ: Club Songs

This section contains information on club songs of AFL clubs and their history. 

Club Songs

Music at sporting events is nothing new. It is believed that the ancient Greeks played some sort of music at sporting events, especially their Olympic Games. When the modern day Olympics began in 1896, music was used for the event. This included a hymn written just for the occasion. It was only a matter of time and a natural progression that sports teams would incorporate a particular song into their culture. It's not clear when Australian football clubs first used club songs (though we're still researching this). Many clubs across the globe have official and/or unofficial "fight" songs. With that, we present to you the songs of the clubs of the AFL.

 

Adelaide Crows

The Crows were formed and admitted to the AFL in 1991. At the time, Bill Stephen was CEO (later chairman). He decided the club needed a strong theme and decided on the US Marine Hymn for the melody. He wrote the US Marine Corps in Washington, DC, and received permission. He then came up with the lyrics and used a police band to record the song.

 

 

Brisbane Lions

The club's history started as the Fitzroy Lions and Brisbane Bears. Thus their songs have related histories.

Fitzroy Lions

The Fitzroy Lions were one of the foundation teams when the VFL was formed in 1896. They did not have a team song until 1951. Bill Stephen played for Fitzroy (1947 - 1957). It was during a team trip that he decided the club needed a song. He had just seen the movie Casablanca which featured a scene in which some Germans in Rick's club begin singing a German song and other patrons drown out the Nazis with the French national anthem. Stephen tossed out the first line, "We are the boys of Fitzroy lads". From there, his teammates all contributed lines.

Brisbane Bears

The Brisbane Bears were admitted to the AFL in 1987 and came up with a song "Dare To Beat The Bear". In 1994, the Bears changed the club logo and the club song to: "Brisbane Bears Will Live Forever" The new theme song was played to the music of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic". This version of the song has been lost, with neither the AFL nor the Brisbane Lions retaining a recording of it. The team would sing the first verse and the chorus in the change room after each win.

 

The Merged Club: Brisbane Lions

When Fitzroy and Brisbane merged to become the Brisbane Lions at the end of 1996, the club retained the French melody from the Fitzroy Lions but revised the lyrics. 

 

 

Carlton Blues

The melody is the song "Lily of Laguna" which was written in 1898 by Leslie Stuart, an composer noted for many concerts and music hall (vaudeville in the USA) songs. "Lily of Laguna" was a popular blackface song at the time, referring to a black man in love with a Native American shepherdess. The song was rewritten in the 1940s to tone down the racist elements. Renowned composer and orchestra leader Ted Riofirito wrote the music and well-known composer Francis Webster revamped the lyrics. Carlton player Ernie Walton (1894 - 1904) used the melody to come up with "We Are The Navy Blues", believed to have been done circa 1930. Carlton's version is also called “Famous Old Dark Blues” 

 

Collingwood Magpies

"Goodbye, Dolly Gray" was another popular music hall song. The lyrics were written by Will D Cobb and the music by American musician Paul Barnes. It was first published in 1897. Collingwood player Tom Nelson (3 games in 1906) wrote the Collingwood lyrics in the early 1900s with a new title. Believe it or not, "Good Old Collingwood Forever" has the oldest origins of any of the Australian football club songs. It started life as a marching song during the Spanish American War (1898) and grew in popularity through the Boer War (1899-1902). It was written by renowned American composer William D Cobb, who listed among his credits songs for an early stage version of Wizard of Oz.

 

 

Essendon Bombers

"Sunny Side Up" was a 1929 romantic comedy musical. in the 1950s, the song was used as the theme song for Sunnyside Up, a variety program aired in Melbourne. In 1988, it became the theme song to the British sitcom Clarence and can also be heard over the end credits of the 1973 film Paper Moon. Kevin Andrews was living with player Jeff Gamble in 1959 (90 games, 1953 - 1960). Andrews wrote the first line "See the Bombers fly up) and it is believed Gamble wrote the rest.

 

 

Fitzroy Lions

See Brisbane Lions.

 

Fremantle Dockers

The Dockers were formed and admitted to the AFL in 1995. West Australian musician Ken Walther came up with the club song. Since Fremantle is a port city, he used the old Russian boatmen song "The Volga Boatmen" for the melody with the lyrics giving the song a bit of a "wharfy" feel. In October 2011, the official website of the Dockers released four options for members to vote on to be the club song in 2012 and beyond. One of the songs titled "Freo Freo" was written by the Australian indie-rock group and the Dockers' number one ticket holder Eskimo Joe. However, members elected to retain the existing club song.

"Freo Way to Go

 

Geelong Cats

The "Waltz of the Toreadors" from Bizet's opera Carmen is the melody. The lyrics were written in 1963 by former player John K Watts (166 games for East Perth 1954 - 1962, 52 games Geelong 1963 -1965, 53 games playing coach Hobart 1966 - 1968). He went on to a successful media career as a radio and TV comic as well as a football commentator. He also wrote sports stories for Perth newspapers.

 

 

Gold Coast Suns

The club was formed in 2010 and entered the AFL in 2011. The song “We are the Suns of the Gold Coast Sky” is an original with lyrics referencing the sky and sun of the area. Lyrics by Ross Arundale, music by Roscoe Elliott who were semi-finalists in the 2016 International Song Writing Contest with the song “Rally” that they wrote.

 

 

Greater Western Sydney Giants

Harry Argus is an award-winning singer and musician with the Australian band the Cat Empire. When the AFL announced the formation of the Greater Western Sydney Giants, they needed a song. Argus contacted the club with some initial ideas after researching sources of other football songs to get a feel for what was needed. He also met with the coaches and players to get their input on what they wanted. The club received a number of suggestions for songs from the community but settled on Argus.

 

 

Hawthorn Hawks

Anyone who has ever seen the movie Yankee Doodle Dandy (starring James Cagney) would be familiar with the name George M Cohan. Cohan was born on July 4 in the late 1890s to a theatrical family. He grew up to become a very well-known and successful actor, singer, dancer, composer, and producer of numerous Broadway hits. One of those was Little Johnny Jones, a musical about an American jockey who travels to England to enter a race. One of the songs was "The Yankee Doodle Boy". The song was also used by the Voice of America on shortwave radio for decades as their "interval signal". Chic Lander took the chorus of that song for the melody and wrote the lyrics for the Hawthorn song “We are the Mighty Mighty Hawks” in 1956.

 

 

Melbourne Demons

The George M. Cohan melody from the song "You're A Grand Old Flag" and it became the club song: "It's A Grand Old Flag". The first verse pretty much was the same as Cohan's original song. It is believed the players first sang it during a trip to Hobart in 1912. The second verse was written by player Keith "Bluey" Truscott after the 1939 premiership. Truscott entered the air force during WWII and was killed during a training exercise in WA in 1943.

 

 

North Melbourne Kangaroos

"Join In The Chorus" is based on an old Scottish song "Wee Deoch an Doris", written in the early 20th century by world-famous Scottish music hall and vaudeville singer/comedian Sir Harry Lauder. He was knighted at the recommendation of Winston Churchill. North was admitted to the VFL in 1925, but they may have been using it before that.

 

 

Port Adelaide Power

The Port Adelaide Magpies were a highly successful club in the SANFL who were finally admitted to the AFL in 1997. As the Port Adelaide Magpies, they had used Notre Dame's "Victory March" since 1971. Upon entering the AFL, they had to change their name and came up with the Power. Since the Swans were already using Notre Dame's song, the club needed a new one. "The Power To Win" is an original song, with music by Quentin Eyers and lyrics by Les Kaczmarek. Eyers is a musician and composer who has done music for films, advertising and promotional videos. He played percussion for the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. Kaczmrek was a founding member and bass guitarist of the band Cold Chisel. He passed away from liver failure in 2008.

Since March 2014, Port Adelaide has adopted “Never Tear Us Apart” by INXS as the club's unofficial anthem leading up to the opening bounce at the Adelaide Oval. It is a reference to the various and unique difficulties the club faced when trying to enter the AFL. The fans have scarves and t-shirts with "Never Tear us Apart" and the acronym "NTUA".

 

Richmond Tigers

The Tigers did not have a club song until 1962. Cabaret performer Jack Malcomson was a regular performer at club functions. It was during one of these that a committee member told him they were a bit embarrassed not to have a song. Malcomson offered his services and began searching for a suitable song he could use. He opted for "Row, Row, Row" which was a song from the 1912 Ziegfield Follies. A clip of it being performed in 1940 can be seen here:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-09-28/afl-grand-final-the-song-behind-richmond-club-theme/8988832 

The song was written by American composer William Jerome. It was later redone by Italian-born composer James Vincent Monaco, who collaborated on a number of songs for Bing Crosby movies. Malcomson wrote the lyrics during a plane trip home from King Island. In a later interview, Malcomson said when he played it for the team before a game the following week, "... they jumped out of their chairs and roared 'like a tiger'.

"Tigerland"

 

 

St Kilda Saints

What else would they use but the American standard "When The Saints Go Marching In?". The origins are unknown but it is believed the song came about as a spiritual in the early 20th century. The lyrics and tempo have varied over the years but it evolved into a jazz standard, especially in New Orleans, and a signature song of Jazz great Louis Armstrong. The Saints first used it as their club song in 1965.

 

 

Sydney Swans

"Victory March" is the fight song for the University of Notre Dame (South Bend, Indiana). The music and lyrics were written by Rev. Michael J. Shea and his brother John F Shea, both Notre Dame graduates. The song was first performed by Rev Shea on the organ at a church in Holyoke, Massachusetts where his former music teacher was musical director. That was in 1908. In 1909, it was performed for the first time at Notre Dame. The lyrics were revised in the 1920s and copyrighted by Notre Dame in 1928. The Swans, still based in Melbourne as South Melbourne, received permission to use it in 1961, renaming it "Cheer, Cheer The Red And White" for their team. Their previous song had been an adaptation of "Springtime in the Rockies" by Gene Autry often called "America's singing cowboy". The Swan lyrics were written by former South Melbourne player Larry Spokes (61 games, 1946 - 1950).

The "Victory March" is used by several other footy teams - East Fremantle (men's and women's) in the WAFL and Launceston in the Tasmanian State League (TSL). as well as other teams around the world including the Northern Lights (AFL Canada- National Women's team) and the Northwind (AFL Canada - National Men's team), the Ottawa Swans Men's and Women's teams in the CAFL Ontario league and the USAFL's Chicago Swans and Houston Lonestars.

 

 

University Students

Whether University, an AFL club in the pre-World War I era, had a song is unknown.

 

West Coast Eagles

The club's song is an original composed by the late Kevin Peek (former member of progressive rock band Sky). Before the Eagles entered the AFL, many West Australian players headed east to play in the VFL/AFL. Thus the original song has some anti-Victorian lyrics such as the opening line "For years, they took the best of us and claimed them for their own" and "So watch out all you know-alls, all you wisemen (most likely meaning wise guys) from the east". Part of the original chorus of "We're flying high" has since become the main part of the song which has undergone many changes over the years. The newest version, introduced in 2020, pays tribute to the indigenous players. It was written by Ken Walther, who also composed the Fremantle song. Several versions can be heard here:

Original: 

 



2020 version: 
https://www.foxsports.com.au/afl/afl-2020-west-coast-eagles-new-song-video-lyrics-birds-of-tokyo/news-story/48b0fe9a5eb9a816614ae724135adb45

 

Western Bulldogs

"Sons of the Sea" is an 1897 English music hall song by Felix McGlennon, a songwriter and publisher. The Bulldogs first used the song in the 1940s at which time the song became "Sons Of The 'Scray", as they were then known as the Footscray Bulldogs. In 1996, the club changed the name from the Footscray Bulldogs to the Western Bulldogs in an effort to reach out and include the surrounding communities in the western area of Melbourne. And the song then became "Sons Of The West" with few tweaks to the lyrics as well. A British soccer team and the USAFL's Denver Bulldogs also use the song.

 

 

Sources for this FAQ: AFL Record Season Guide, wikipedia.org, demonwiki.org, britannica.com, youtube.com, https://web.archive.org/web/20120218202012/http://www.gwsgiants.com.au/theres-a-big-big-sound-from-the-west-of-the-town.html, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Australian_Football_League_team_songs

Article last changed on Sunday, August 16, 2020 - 2:13 PM EDT


Recent content

Partners

Worldfootynews.com
Official Statistics Partner of AFANA