Songs of the Gippsland League

Roll out the barrels: The Moe theme song is one you either love or hate. photograph supplied

Liam Durkin and Zac Standish

CLUB songs are one of the most unique features of football.
As the victors enter their changing room, a minute or so is dedicated to belting out a tune informing all within earshot who the winning team was on that particular day.
It is a tradition almost as old as the game itself.
But what of the stories behind the songs?
Some have an original idea, others develop over time, while a lot simply take preexisting lyrics and insert their own club moniker.
Starting with the Gippsland League, in this weeks Four Quarters we take a look at some of the signature tunes for local clubs.
1. Moe.
THE Fremantle of local footy songs, the Lions theme is one that is derided by opponents and defended with equally fierce loyalty by those who sing it.
While the exact origin of the song is not known, it is quite possible it was brought back to Moe following World War 2.
The Lions tune is to the Beer Barrel Polka, which was a Czechoslovakian song that became popular during the Second World War.
The lyrics to that song go:
Roll out the barrel, we’ll have a barrel of fun
Roll out the barrel, we’ve got the blues on the run
Zing boom tararrel, ring out a song of good cheer
Now’s the time to roll the barrel, for the gang’s all here
Moe’s song follows the same AB AB rhyming scheme, with its lyrics being:
Roll out the pennant, we’ll be the premiers this year
We’ve got the players, who don’t know the meaning of fear
All our supporters will be there to see what we do
Because the year (insert) is the year for the maroon and blue
Although the official lyric is ‘roll out the pennant’, those in the senior and reserve grade maintain the original line and sing ‘roll out the barrels’.
For another unknown reason there is also a fairly cringe worthy chant of ‘2-4-6-8 who do we appreciate M-O-E, Moe’ that follows the song.
Calls to abandon the chant for something that doesn’t resemble cheerleading have so far proved unsuccessful.
Even though Moe’s is a non-
traditional AFL song it is not entirely unique – the Cronulla Sutherland Sharks sing the same song in the NRL.
The lyrics to the Sharks song go:
Up, up Cronulla, the boys in the black, white and blue
Up, up Cronulla, name of the Sharks fits you
Sharks, Sharks forever, go out and play without fear
Now’s the time to see good football, for the Sharks are here
2. Morwell.
THE theme song generally regarded as the best in the AFL is also used at Morwell.
To the Richmond faithful it is true music to the ears as “Oh we’re from Tigerland” is blasted following
victory at a packed MCG, and similar sentiments are shared by the many devotees of the Morwell team that share the same colours.
Morwell players are believed to have sung the Richmond theme song since the 1960s, and for virtually the entire time the Gippsland League has been around. This date makes sense given the Richmond song was written in 1962 by Australian cabaret singer Jack Malcolmson, who received a standing ovation from Tiger players when they first heard it.
Given the songs popularity it would be genuinely surprising to come across a football fan who does not know the song word-for-word, however, confusion has always
surrounded the lyric ‘risking head and shin’, which many people mishear as ‘risking head and skin’.
Many may also be interested in the original Richmond theme song, which was sung to the tune of Waltzing Matilda.
It went:
We’re the boys from Richmond
We’re the boys from Tigerland
We proudly wear the yellow and black
And when it comes to football
We play the famous Tiger brand
Right from the bounce we attack, we attack!
Onward the Tigers, onward the Tigers
Eat ’em alive boys and never give in
For the honoured tradition
The glory of old Richmond
We play the game and we play it to win
Onward the Tigers, onwards the Tigers
We’ve got the team and there’s nothing it lacks
We’ve got heart, we’ve got skill
We’ve got everything at Richmond
We are the Tigers, the yellow and black
3. Traralgon.
THE Maroons take their song from the Sydney Swans, who in turn took theirs from the University of Notre Dame.
The university, located in the US state of Indiana, is famous for its fight song known as Victory March – generally accepted as the most recognisable fight song in college football.
Victory March was made popular in the 1940 movie Knute Rockne, All American, which incidentally starred future US president Ronald Reagan.
The Sydney Swans actually wrote to the University of Notre Dame to get permission for its use when it settled on the tune in 1961.
The original lyrics go:
Cheer, cheer for old Notre Dame
Wake up the echoes cheering her name
Send a volley cheer on high
Shake down the thunder from the sky
What though the odds be great or small
Old Notre Dame will win over all
While her loyal sons are marching
Onward to victory
Traralgon has borrowed the
melody and virtually the same words of the Sydney song, famed for its banjo section during the instrumental.
Following a win Traralgon sings:
Cheer, cheer the maroon and the white
Honour the team by day and by night
Lift that noble banner high
Shake down the thunder from the sky
Whether the odds be great or small
Traralgon will go and win overall
While our loyal sons are marching
Onwards to victory
4. Best of the rest.
THE remaining theme songs in the Gippsland League offer some familiar and original tunes.
Warragul and Maffra are both sung to the tune of the Carlton song.
‘We are the mighty Gulls’ opens the line for Warragul, while ‘we are the red and blacks’ does likewise for the Eagles.
Maffra is also known to include a cry of ‘too tough, too strong, too (expletive) good’ following their
Bairnsdale and Sale sing songs based on the Melbourne tune “It’s a Grand Old Flag.”
Given the nickname Redlegs for Bairnsdale it is logical the team sings the Demons song, yet for Sale, the sight of a team in Magpie jumpers belting out “It’s a Grand Old Flag” might seem a bit odd to those on first witness.
The song does work however, as Sale sings the line ‘every heart beats right for the black and the white’.
Those with original songs in the Gippsland League are Wonthaggi, Drouin and Leongatha.
Wonthaggi’s can be counted as original because the lyrics are completely different to the tune it is borrowed from – North Melbourne.
The Power’s song is relatively new, and pays homage to former clubs Wonthaggi Blues and Wonthaggi Rovers merging to form Wonthaggi Power in 2005.
The Wonthaggi song goes:
We are Wonthaggi, the Power football team
We play it hard we don’t give in, the best you’ve ever seen
We celebrate our victories, champions through and through
Cheer on the Power, and sing it loud and true
So join in the chorus, and sing it one and all
Join in the chorus, the Power’s on the ball
Two clubs united, the best we want to be
The premiership we’re chasing, our place in history
The Drouin theme song has a bit of the Australian national anthem about it, as it uses a word that is hardly, if ever, used in general conversation.
Advance Australia Fair says we are ‘girt by sea’. The Drouin theme song says they are a team ‘stout and bold’.
The Hawks even have an MP3 version of their song online, and are surely the only football club in the land to use the word stout in their theme song. It goes:
We’re a team stout and bold
And we wear maroon and gold
We are the boys from Drouin town
From the backs to the forwards
We’re always going goal wards
To bring the four points home
And to please our supporters
Who follow us around
We’ll be the premiers, and wear the Gippy crown
Never more will we squawk
Coz’ we’re the mighty Hawks
We are the boys from Drouin town
Finishing off the list of original tunes is Leongatha.
The unique nickname of Parrots is in keeping with an equally unique theme song, and its call to ‘wear a smile’ is perhaps a reflection of the country way of life seen in the dairy farming community.
The Leongatha song, which seems to be stuck on repeat in recent years, goes:
Wear a smile not a frown
As we’re heading for the town
Across the hills to Leongatha
Where the green and gold’s the caper
And you can read the paper
About how those Parrots can fly
Where the friends of the Gatha
Are waiting for me
And the premierships a cakewalk
Just you wait and see
Are we good! Are we good!
Are we any bloody good!
We are the boys from Gatha town
Who has the best theme song in country footy?
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Cheer cheer: Traralgon players belt out their theme song after the 2015 grand final. file photograph