There is no tradition in the AFL more wholly unique, more closely guarded, and more astonishingly bizarre than that of the club theme song: A series of jaunty tunes mostly slapped together in the 1930s by men named Reginald or Terrence and assigned to each team for the express purpose of having sweaty, muscly men link arms and sing together after winning a game. As thoroughly confusing as the Match Review Panel and just as devoid of all meaning.
Still, it’s one of the most joyous traditions the game maintains; the ability to stand up in your seat at the ground and belt out the song in the seconds after a victorious final siren. On Grand Final Day, as those lucky enough to have experienced it will know, there’s no better sound than those opening few bars pulsating out of the stadium speakers. For those few seconds, it is less a decades-old recording of a few barbershop dandies in a musty recording studio as it is more God himself hurtling his golden throat down the line.
With Week 2 of the 2018 AFL Finals staring us in the face, and with most of the league’s 18 sides now out of the running for this year’s premiership, what better time than now to put together a completely definitive and legally binding ranking of every club theme song currently in rotation?
Better grab a cool drink, mates. There’s a coupla hot, hot takes on the way.
18) GOLD COAST SUNS
Fold this failing club and give the license to Tasmania immediately.
17) WEST COAST EAGLES
As far as footy is concerned, the 80s were notable for two things: Warwick Capper taking absurd screamers with his dick hanging out, and club theme songs that sound like the employee induction video at an insurance call centre. The Bears mercifully died, as did their song. But this pissawful effort lingers on in all its middle-management glory.
16) ST. KILDA SAINTS
Changing just one line from a pre-existing song and claiming it as your own is absolutely cheating and everyone who supports this deeply weird club bloody well knows it.
15) PORT ADELAIDE POWER
Those bullshit opening trumpets. What the blue hell is going on there? By the time they’re over the game’s already started. There’s only one footy song that’s allowed to begin with an hour of slow trumpets, and buddy the Power song ain’t it.
14) CARLTON BLUES
Unbelievably dreary, even for the 1930s when it was first used. Also it just-so-happens to take its melody from an absurdly racist old minstrel show-era tune and YA DON’T HEAR PEOPLE TALK ABOUT THAT MUCH THESE DAYS.
13) BRISBANE LIONS
What Galaxy Brained-genius looked at the French National Anthem and thought “this’ll fire the boys up.” Les shithouse.
12) HAWTHORN HAWKS
No team at Hawthorn should be ever be allowed to be a happy team. Pass.
11) FREMANTLE DOCKERS
Much like the club and everything they’ve been able to achieve in their 23 years of existence: It’s fine. Nothing more. Of all the club songs in the AFL, it’s definitely one of them.
10) ADELAIDE CROWS
My old High School’s colours were navy, red, and gold, and therefore we wore Crows jumpers while playing footy. Everyone in the side fucking hated Adelaide, but. So after wins we’d lock arms and sing the Decore ad jingle instead. That’s all you need to know about this quote-unquote “theme song”.
9) GEELONG CATS
It’s a fine song but its standing in the ranking is severely hampered by the fact the club either a) Refuses to formally refer to their home ground as Kardinia Park anymore, or b) Refuses to change the final line of the song to whatever bullshit corporate name for the stadium they’re running this year. It’s either one or the other. Pick a lane and commit, cowards.
8) NORTH MELBOURNE KANGAROOS
A perfectly fine song but the first half, objectively the best bit, is never recorded. Also this is definitely the closest the club will get to any Top 8 this year.
7) SYDNEY SWANS
Who are these “loyal sons” the song refers to? And who is “her”? Too many questions to put it into the top five.
6) ESSENDON BOMBERS
It’s got all the hallmarks of a great AFL theme song: Cracking opening bars, reference to The Boys, plenty of banjo in the background. But that one rushed-ass line – “Our boys who play THISGRANDOLDGAME/Are always striving for GLORYANDFAME” – kills it dead. And I say this as a man who bleeds black and red. Too many syllables in those lines. Please eliminate some of them.
5) COLLINGWOOD MAGPIES
Much as it *absolutely pains* me to put Collingwood above Essendon in anything, it cannot be denied: This is a cracking tune. No mucking around at the start, just a simple intro and into it. Good gear. ‘Course the same can’t be said for their modern game-day song choices: why the hell would you go with all six-and-a-half minutes of Nothing Else Matters when For Whom The Bell Tolls is SITTING RIGHT THERE.
4) MELBOURNE DEMONS
Max banjo? Check. Bass line doing absolute work? Check. Needlessly repetitive references to the team’s colours? Check. Folks, this is a football banger, through and through.
3) GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY GIANTS
Just because it’s new doesn’t mean it’s not a chance to be good. This is a big, big jam. Not only did they baulk from league tradition by embracing high vis and concrete as their colours, but they’re the only club to take on a minor key in their theme song, and it’s paid dividends. This white hot bastard of a tune sounds like a Soviet invasion is imminent. It slaps. It fucken slaps hard.
2) WESTERN BULLDOGS
How’s that bloody opening bar? Huge. BWARRRP, BAP-BAHHHH, BAP-BAHH, BAD-UP BUP BAHHH. So efficient, to-the-point, and working class I’m shocked it doesn’t conjure a spectre of Franco Cozzo in the sky above the MCG every time it gets played.
1) RICHMOND TIGERS
Admittedly, just about everything to do with the Richmond Football Club was a lot more palatable when all their fans were miserable. But that doesn’t change the fact that this is by far and away the best thing song in the league, bar none. It’s bright, it’s jaunty, it gets right to the point, and that “YELLOW AND BLACK” crowd line cannot be beaten. It’s just a shame (for all non-Tiges fans) that we have to hear so sodding often nowadays.
Ahh well. It’s a great leveller, footy.Image: Getty Images / Quinn Rooney