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18 footy theme songs in 18 days: #3 'We're from Tigerland'

Roar Rookie
25th September, 2013
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Roar Rookie
25th September, 2013
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1714 Reads

We have only three songs left, and all are so good for one reason or another. This was the toughest call so far.

I considered making it a draw, but draws still annoy me after 2010. So let’s plug away and call number three.

Back-story first – Richmond’s original song (or at least the one immediately pre-dating ‘Tigerland’) was ‘Onward the Tigers’, set to the tune of ‘Waltzing Matilda’. It’s not bad, but it lacks punch.

Also, ‘Waltzing Matilda’, with its sorrow, despair and grim lesson to avoid suicidal outlaws and their haunted billabongs has always creeped me out a bit, so I can understand their wish to move on.

In 1962, cabaret artist Jack Malcolmson, who was performing regularly at the Richmond Social Club around that time, was asked to come up with a new tune.

He settled on ‘Row Row Row’ (music by James Monaco, lyrics by William Jerome) from 1912, which was part of the successful Ziegfeld Follies Broadway productions.

A set of fresh lyrics later, and rumour has it that when Malcolmson performed it for the club for the first time, he received a standing ovation.

There’s so much to like about ‘We’re from Tigerland’. It’s jubilant, determined and instantly recognisable.

Great lines like “fighting fury” and “risking head and skin” (or “shin”, if you’re old-school) sit strongly alongside the loudest single moment of any of the club songs in “yellow and black”.

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Actually, the “yellow and black” line deserves a comment on its own. It’s such a powerful single statement that it often induces a bit of a lull before and after it.

I’m not sure how best to explain this comparative lull. Why exactly is that line louder than the rest?

It’s either a) because it’s such a great line to sing, even those fans who normally sit quiet and smug throughout a victory chant will join for just that moment, or b) because it’s such a great line to sing, people hold out until it pops up.

If any Richmond supporters are reading, chime in and let me know what you think.

I don’t feel like there’s a great need to go into why this song is so good. You either know it is, or you’ll have your own reasons for disagreeing.

It seems to top polls and discussions on club song merits across web forums and pubs across the country. It’s a gem.