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The songs AFL clubs should adopt for their 'fanthem'

Watching AFL from home has its benefits. (AAP Image/Ben Macmahon)
Roar Guru
21st March, 2016
12
1475 Reads

Early this year I spent a month in the United States, and experienced three of the most popular American sports. At each event I noticed that there were several times during the event that the crowd would join in the singing of ‘traditional’ popular songs, or ‘fanthems’.

While each AFL team already has its own theme song, what other songs could be brought in to create a more communal atmosphere with home team fans?

The Port Adelaide Football Club has developed a beloved new tradition with the singing of “Never Tear Us Apart” before each game. But what about the other 17? What song would be fitting for each club?

I decided to assign each club a well-known song that they could adopt as their fanthem (and I swear that’s the last time I will ever write that).

Adelaide – ‘Paradise City’ by Guns N’ Roses
As ‘the pride of South Australia’ adopted their theme song from the US Marine Corps’ hymn, I looked across the Pacific to find another song for Adelaide.

They needed a song that would set them apart from the Power, and it was important that Adelaide itself should be represented in the song. Turns out I was able to find just such a song, and it came out the exact same year as the Power’s.

‘Paradise City’ by Guns N Roses, while a staple of pubs across the country (not such a negative for many Crows fans), has its charms and an anthemic chorus that would sound just as good ringing around the Adelaide Oval as INXS’s classic love song.

Brisbane Lions – ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’ by The Animals
There are more than a few songs that use lions as metaphors for strength and overcoming adversity. From older songs like Billy Bragg’s ‘Life with the Lions’ and various’ ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’, to more recent songs like Mumford and Sons ‘Little Lion Man’ and Katy Perry’s ‘Roar’.

However, Bragg’s lyrics are way too caustic; ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ is both too obvious and tempting of fate; as much fun as it would be for the Gabba to sing the chorus to ‘Little Lion Man’ (and, from my experience, it’s a lot of fun), I don’t think too many parents would be that cavalier with swearing; and as for ‘Roar’, Lions fans have suffered enough.

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What else could we go with then? Well lions are animals, and the English band The Animals provide several options, and several definitely not options. ‘The House of the Rising Sun’, ‘We Gotta Get Out of this Place’ and ‘Don’t let me be Misunderstood’ are part of the definitely not category.

‘Don’t Bring Me Down’ is too good to pass up.

Carlton – ‘Peter Gunn Theme’ by The Blues Brothers
This was difficult. Carlton’s nickname gave me my starting point, but where do you go from Blues? Do you go for one of the old-school blues masters like Robert Johnson? One of the harder blues rockers like ZZ Top? Or a new, alternative, blues-infused rock like The White Stripes?

I decided to go for a group with the club’s nickname in their name: The Blues Brothers. With so many great songs as part of the first movie, which one could Carlton fans sing?

In this, as in many things, the Blues are going to do it their own way. The Blues Brothers’ cover of the ‘Peter Gunn Theme’ would not only build suspense as the players marched to their positions, but many in the crowd would be tempted to try and imitate the trumpets.

Collingwood – ‘With a Little Help from my Friends’ by The Beatles
What to choose for the biggest club in the land? Well, there is only one possible choice: the biggest band in history.

The Beatles have so many songs beloved by millions worldwide, and the Magpies would love nothing more than to consider themselves as one and the same. So the only thing left is to choose which Beatles classic.

After eliminating possibilities like ‘Come Together’, ‘Don’t Let Me Down’, ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ and ‘All You Need is Love’, I decided that the song should be one that embraces Collingwood’s nature as the biggest club around.

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‘With a Little Help from my Friends’ has a nice sentiment, is relatively easy to sing, and can be used as a metaphor for the strength in numbers that Collingwood has above all other clubs.

Essendon – ‘Good Times Bad Times’ by Led Zeppelin
I wanted to be inappropriate and give the Bombers something to do with the recent scandal (the club might as well joke about it now, in a sort of ‘if you can’t laugh you’ll cry’ kind of way), with The Grates’ ‘Lies Are Much More Fun’ the leader, until I decided to go a different path.

What’s metal and flies? A plane, a bomber, some kind of metal balloon – a lead balloon. Led Zeppelin! And it just so happens that one of the Big Three of 1970s British hard rock has a perfect song for the Bombers.

‘Good Times Bad Times’ describes a man dealing with the harsh realities of adulthood, and his inability to care about serious problems, but still remaining above it all despite his worries. At least something similar to Bombers fans troubles of recent years, it would show that they are not going to give up on their beloved club.

Fremantle – ‘This is Pressure’ by Eskimo Joe
Perth has a rich history of music acts, so it makes sense to tap into that history.

Some of my favourite Western Australia bands were considered: Tame Impala, Jebediah, Birds of Tokyo. Unfortunately, none had anything that fit the context of a pre-match tune.

Instead, I decided to go back to the band that tried (and failed) to write a new theme song for Fremantle. It turns out, they already had such a song written but didn’t know it.

An album track, the only one I’ve picked, off Black Fingernails, Red Wine, ‘This is Pressure’ has a nice beat for singing in a crowd and contains lyrics that fit Fremantle’s style, no doubt causing an even more intimidating atmosphere at Dockers’ games.

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Geelong – ‘Parklife’ by Blur
When I was in high school, I picked up playing the double bass. While not exactly the most popular instrument to learn, it is supremely underrated. It just so happens that two of the most popular songs that my band played happened included cats in the title, so it seemed certain I would pick either ‘The Lovecats’ by The Cure, or ‘Stray Cat Strut’ by Stray Cats.

Unfortunately, while both of these songs are great pieces of music, neither of them are easy to sing in large groups – the rhythm of ‘Lovecats’ is too fast, while ‘Stray Cat Strut’ is too slow.

So I based my choice on the Cats’ home ground: Kardinia Park, the last park still standing in the league after Princes, Victoria, Waverly and Football went to the big sports precinct in the sky.

What better way to commemorate the Cats’ unique home ground than by chanting out the lyrics to Blur’s love letter to ‘Parklife’? Of course, when the Cats host games at Docklands or the MCG, then they can just go with ‘Lovecats’.

Gold Coast – ‘Waterloo Sunset’ by The Kinks
Oh now where to begin here? With a nickname like the Suns, there are so many options: ‘Here Comes the Sun’, ‘Let the Sunshine in’, ‘Blister in the Sun’, ‘Walking on Sunshine’, ‘Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows’.

However, ‘Here Comes the Sun’ is too musically complex for belting at a stadium. ‘Let the Sunshine in’ doesn’t have enough lyrics. ‘Blister in the Sun’ isn’t entirely appropriate. ‘Walking on Sunshine’ doesn’t fit with the tone. As for ‘S, L and R’, yeah…

That’s why I’m going with something else entirely: ‘Waterloo Sunset’ by The Kinks. The lyrics are simple enough, the chorus can be belted, and even though it doesn’t really exactly fit with the context, the sentiment does, which is the most important thing with a stadium sing-a-long.

Greater Western Sydney – ‘You’ve got Another Thing Coming’ by Judas Priest
As someone who grew up in Western Sydney, I’ve always been well aware of its nature as a bogan paradise. Sadly, while there are songs named ‘Pastime Paradise’, ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ and ‘Paradise By The Dashboard Light’ there’s nothing specifically about bogans.

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So I had to think about what kind of songs a bogan would like, which would also be popular enough to work in a wider audience. I found just such a song with Judas Priest’s ‘You’ve Got Another Thing Coming’.

This song is classic ’80s British heavy metal, thereby making it classic bogan, while also respected enough by mainstream music fans. The lyrics concern surpassing expectations, a natural fit for the team that no one predicted would fit in to Western Sydney’s existing sporting culture, and a team that is no longer the easybeats that they were in their first few seasons.

Hawthorn – ‘Fields of Gold’ by Sting
I consider any other options for the Hawks.

A song often performed by choirs, it’s slow, moving and so perfect for a stadium setting. ‘Fields of Gold’ by Sting is what Hawthorn should take up singing before each game, and I hope I’m not the only one who can imagine hearing a Hawks crowd singing this loudly and proudly.

Melbourne – ‘Highway to Hell’ by AC/DC
Melbourne probably has the best history of music in Australia. A rich vein of talented musicians have come out of ‘Malbin’ and become some of Australia’s favourite acts.

I wanted the oldest club in the country to utilise their city’s deep musical history as a source for their song. I didn’t have to look too far to find a perfect track.

The Demons have probably the best nickname of all sports teams, and their early 2000s logo was one of the best of all time. So the club should embrace their identity and use that as an intimidation tactic.

It just so happens that AC/DC, probably Melbourne’s most successful band, wrote several songs concerning demonic concepts, and I can imagine Demons fans chanting ‘Highway To Hell’ before each match, putting a shiver down opposing teams’ spines. (Note: sarcasm doesn’t translate as well in text as it does in vocal delivery.)

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North Melbourne – ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ by The Rolling Stones
Historically the Kangaroos have struggled, but they’ve won four premierships in the last 40 years, so they’re doing better than most; they’re not one of the most followed teams; and their cult identity, the ‘Shinboners’, is based on them not being the best players.

What song could possibly fit a club with such a disparate existence as North Melbourne?

B-sides are tracks that were put on the other side of vinyl singles to fill space. Never intended to be anything special, occasionally a B-side would become more popular than the intended A-side. I thought that one of these kinds of tracks might be a fit for the Kangaroos, and found just the ticket with the Rolling Stones’ ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’.

Originally released as the B-side to ‘Honky Tonk Women’, the song has a memorable and easily sung chorus with a sentiment that suitably encapsulates North’s up-and-down history.

Richmond – ‘Eye of the Tiger’ by Survivor
I knew this one was going to be hard. I didn’t have that many good animal jokes and metaphors, and I already used them all up with the Lions. I searched long and hard to find something that wasn’t the completely obvious track for Richmond fans to sing at each match.

In the end, I couldn’t go past it, it had to be ‘Eye of the Tiger’ by Survivor. It’s punchy, it’s got a catchy chorus that everyone can sing along to, the song’s title rhymes with the band’s name. It really has it all.

St Kilda – ‘Just Like Fire Would’ by The Saints
The Saints should have a song by one of the best Australian bands of all time: The Saints. But which one of their songs to choose? ‘I’m Stranded’ is too fast-paced and aggressive; ‘Know Your Product’ is an anti-advertising anthem, so that’s out; ‘This Perfect Day’ was close, but I just can’t endorse a song with a triple negative in one of its lines.

In the end, what’s good enough for The Boss is good enough for me. ‘Just Like Fire Would’ might not have the most complicated chorus, but I have no doubt that Saints fans would give it their all before each match. And just like fire would, the Saints burn up.

Sydney – ‘Finally See Our Way’ by Art Vs. Science
Some of the most successful Australian acts have come out of Sydney’s pubs, including AC/DC (who I gave to the Demons) and INXS (who now sing in Port Adelaide).

But instead of going for the mainstream, looking in the indie scene fits more with the SCG chardonnay sippers.

Art Vs. Science might not be too well known outside listeners of Triple J and people who frequent music festivals, but they are a solid electronic-dance group. Their song ‘Finally See Our Way’ fits well with the struggle the Swans had to establish themselves in Sydney and the stability and success they have now built for themselves.

The music will also pump up the crowd like nothing else, making the normally calm Swans fans a little more active.

West Coast – ‘Eagle Rock’ by Daddy Cool
The Eagles already have a great sing-along song with ‘Eagle Rock’, so there isn’t really a need to go through this whole charade for them.

Though if I were to do so, I’d go with something by the band The Eagles. Probably something like ‘Heartache Tonight’, because there is nothing West Coast fans love more than rubbing their success in other teams’ faces.

Western Bulldogs – ‘Dog Days Are Over’ by Florence + The Machine
And now we come to the final team. I was leaning towards The Living End’s ‘West End Riot’ because of its connection to the east-west divide of Melbourne and its embrace of fun combat, but instead I considered the Bulldogs’ history.

What song could be used to sum up the feelings and attachment that Bulldogs fans feel for their club after all this time without a championship? It would need to be optimistic and heartfelt, while also summarising the history of disappointment without any hang-ups.

I found the perfect song for such a set of criteria in Florence + The Machine’s ‘Dog Days Are Over’. This tune not only has the anthem qualities necessary for a stadium, it also has the sentiment of overcoming adversity, much like the Bulldogs’ long period of suffering.

There is a potential use for snarky critics who might make fun of a team for using their nickname in a negative context, but we don’t need any more of them around as I’m doing fine by myself.

That’s what I came up with, Roar fans. What do you think?

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