In this country we play a code of football known as Australian Rules, or AFL. It is different to all the other codes. At its best, it is the most spectacular and exciting sport anywhere. Okay, I am a bit biased, but I really do think so.
Every team has a club song, which the players and fans sing after a win, usually with more enthusiasm than skill.
The tunes are often borrowed. My team, Geelong, pinched its tune from a Rossini opera. Other clubs use the French national anthem, the official hymn of the U.S. Marines, and a weird re-working of “Song of the Volga Boatmen”.
If you follow AFL closely, you hear these songs so often that they float free from their origins. Playing an old record, and hearing one of them, but with different words and in a completely different context is surreal, a sort of backwards déjà vu, if that is possible.
This track comes from an EP released in the 1950s, but the style suggests the original recording was done perhaps twenty years earlier. I have not been able to find out, because the band, Gene`s Musette Orchestra, is seriously obscure. They were obviously a nightclub dance band, putting well known tunes to swing arrangements, and they really could play.
I put this obscure EP on the turntable, and was astonished to hear in the one medley number, two AFL club songs. By coincidence, the two teams, Melbourne and Hawthorn, actually played each other a few days ago.
The Melbourne theme is based on the first song in the medley, “You’re a Grand Old Flag”.
Sadly, the match was won by Hawthorn, who have won the premiership three years in a row, are traditional rivals of Geelong, and are annoyingly good. So, after the game, the Hawks boys all linked arms in a circle and tunelessly belted out:
We’re a happy team at Hawthorn
We know how to play the game
I wonder if any of them knew that they were singing “Yankee Doodle Dandy”?
- Artist: Gene`s Musette Orchestra
- EP Title: Sidewalks Of New York
- Side 1, Track 1: “Yankee Doodle Dandy”
- Format: 7” EP 45 rpm
- Label: W&G WG-EMR 161
- Manufactured in: Australia
- Year: 1956
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