It’s September, and for many, that means 4 weekends of stubbies, snags and a shedload of footy. Two of Australia’s leading sport leagues have their grand finals this weekend (AFL and NRL), and hopefully they should both be fantastic games! At last, both will be featuring fantastic Australian talent, with the AFL showcasing Vance Joy and The Living End, and the NRL bringing Keith Urban back from his recent fame in the United States.
But when I compare the two leagues, I do notice the striking lack of team songs within the NRL. Unlike AFL, where each team enjoys their victories with a cheesy cover of some classic European folk song, NRL victors celebrate to top 40 hits like “Geronimo”. And this has made me wonder, coming into Grand Final weekend, whether team songs are successful and necessary attachments for Australian sporting teams, especially in leading sporting leagues.
In the AFL, all 18 sides have their own special team song, from Brisbane Lions’ twist on the French national anthem, through to Hawthorn’s peculiar spin off of “Yankee Doodle Dandy”. And while some have been heavily criticised for their ridiculous lyrics or poor musicality (cough cough… Fremantle Dockers), the song symbolises each team, and all the team members get around each other after a victory and scream the living daylights out of the song, while saturating each other in Gatorade. And I find it hard to deny that there is something fantastic and wonderful about the anthems and what they mean to each side and the Australian Football League as a whole.
And then when I look at NRL, there is plenty of music playing all night, during stoppages of play, pre-game, half time, post-game etc. Surprisingly, I have discovered that each NRL side actually does have a theme song, but they are rarely played, and certainly not sung by the teams! I have wondered why this is so, when I see the way AFL team songs promote comradery, joy and high scores on Singstar! Even listening down through some of the NRL songs, they sound more like mini ACDC or Bon Jovi singles with their thumping tom grooves and grungy guitar riffs, compared to the uplifting and celebratory tunes of the AFL.
I always believe that music can play an integral role in every part of life, from our social gatherings, through to our life-defining moments, and even our local under 8s footy matches on a Sunday morning. I am certainly not slamming any sporting leagues for an omission of music, for every sport has a chant, victory song or interluding background music of some sort. Rather, I believe music should take a forefront role in celebrating the sport and what it means to be part of a team.
So, when we witness hopefully a double Victorian victory of the weekend with the Western Bulldogs and Melbourne Storm, just take note of the power (or lack thereof) of the victor’s blaring theme song, and the way the players, staff and supporters can celebrate the memory with a raucous cry of their team’s own chorus. And for the Australian sporting leagues out there, see why the AFL is the powerhouse league of our nation, compared to the consumer orientated top 40 hits fest of the NRL.
Jared loves to share his passion for music and artists through music reviews and commentaries. These include a selection of reviews written for community radio stations 3MBS and Radio Monash.