“And he’s our Don Bradman, now I ask you is he any good”.
And so it was in 1930 when the nation’s hero was immortalised in a song written by Jack O’Hagan and sung by Art Leonard. Hero worship was taken to another sphere when you could own the song you heard on the wireless and sung at the ground. Thus begun a rich history of Australian sporting songs and anthems that have associated themselves with a moment in time and a broader association with sport in general.
While this is nowhere near a definitive list, it does bring back memories of some obvious tunes and some not so.
While I didn’t mention ‘Simply The Best’ by Tina Turner to advertise rugby league, the list is the domain of Australian performers and I invite you to add your selections in the comments section.
‘Up There Cazaly’ was released in 1979 by Mike Brady. It is an AFL catchphrase inspired by early 20th century St Kilda and South Melbourne great Roy Cazaly and has become the undisputed anthem of the game.
‘Howzat’ was released by the ’70s pop group Sherbet. It is a romantic pop tune with lyrics inspired by appealing for a wicket in cricket. It went to the top of the hit parade.
‘I Made A Hundred In The Backyard At Mum’s’ is more of a comedic ditty than pure sporting anthem released by the Coodabeen champion, Greg Champion.
‘Shut Up The Footy’s On The Radio’ was released by underground ARIA Award winners and Melbourne institution, TISM. This was re-recorded by the band many years after they broke up at the behest of Melbourne’s Triple M as the theme song for their AFL coverage. They are sell-outs to the end.
‘The Back Upon Which Jezza Jumped’ was a 1985 song about Carlton great Alex Jesaulenko jumping on the back of Collingwood’s Graeme ‘Jerker’ Jenkin to take the famous high mark in the 1970 VFL grand final. This was TISM’s first effort at sporting immortality and was a big hit in Melbourne.
Jimmy Sharman’s ‘Boxers’ is Midnight Oil’s contribution from 1984 and came off the album Red Sails In The Sunset. Essentially it is about the boxing troupe that travelled with and fought in the tents of Jimmy Sharman.
Australian music royalty Paul Kelly recorded songs about two Wisden cricketers of the century in Shane Warne and Don Bradman. Very melodic and atmospheric, these paint a picture of the ages in which they weaved their magic.
An advertising jingle to promote World Series Cricket, ‘C’mon Aussie C’mon’ was written and performed by Allan Johnston and Alan Morris from the agency Mojo and is arguably the catchiest song of them all.
AFL grand final day is not complete without the aforementioned Mike Brady classic and Hunters and Collectors’ ‘Holy Grail’. This classic soon took over from ‘Bound for Glory’ as the AFL’s song of choice.
Men At Work have the default position of the best known Australian sporting anthem with their mega hit ‘Down Under’. First used for Australia’s victory in the America’s Cup in 1983, it now covers every sport and victory since and the lyrics are known by a nation. Anywhere in the world where Aussies come together to celebrate sporting success, ‘Down Under’ is the national song of choice.