Football and Music Part II (Finals Music)



Music is a funny thing when laced with footy.


When we won the flag two years ago and they finally shut the club rooms, most of us broke into the old weatherboard hall we use as changing rooms. An oil drum fire out front, five utes backed into a circle, the same radio station pumping out of each stereo, and all was right with the world.

Dawn was a long way off, a thing we were unafraid of, charging at, because it was attached to another night, then another, and, before we knew it, medals still on, it would be summer.

Inside the shed, the former captain was stacking the club’s bins to the roof like carnival cans, then running full tilt off a ramp, tucking into a fist, and launching himself at them at head height. Outside, three of the more local boys were playing an AC/DC bagpipe solo on their chainsaws.


“This a long way to the top is ya wanna rock’n’roll…”





Idle and throttle, idle and throttle.


Somebody had bellied their car on the dirt bike track. The 6ft2” utility was running his third naked lap of the oval. Any excuse. He just loved being naked. The girls were used to it. They kicked back, chuckling like gravy.

We were the unwound. Shaking our valley.

Then, someone, somewhere, requested, on local radio, a few Queen songs. We Will Rock You, got us all laughing, and doing something together. A 3am glue, we all went,

Stomp-stomp-clap, stomp-stomp clap…

All the way into ‘We Are The Champions.’

Suddenly, we were all pulling down love from the sky with one hand, because we couldn’t take the other from its claw-like grip on our hearts. We hugged and slurred

“I luff youse mate…!”

“Nah, I luff youse mate…!”

and said

“Weez wouldn’t a won wiffout ya…!”

to everybody from the ruckman to the water-boy, and formed bonds that will last forever.


Like or hate Queen, the fact the song is so slow and daggy is what makes it perfect. There’s none of that American growl in it. It’s just fun.

Just victory.


Holy Grail is a top song. A real anthem, the sort where you throw your hands into the air. It’s a ripper to sing on a pre-season footy trip. Gives the start of the year a boost.

I’ve sung it with my teammates a couple of times. Sometimes I wonder what it’s really about? Monty Pythons and farting in your general direction?


All these songs, such a part of my history, I would not have given an ear to, not a lobe, if not for footy.


God, tell me I’m wrong, but The Monaros are Australia. The thongs and ratbag variety. Their song Toaster has nothing to do with footy, but is perfect for it. To play in the pub, win lose or draw, when everything is crazy. Where as Blue and White Stripes is just plain rude, and Meathead would be spot on for one of those Chanel Seven highlights reels of big hits, marks and stuff-ups. Spot! On!

Will someone please make it happen?!

They’re from Warrnambool. Music’s battlers, that should get more credit than they do, for being as good as they are with what little they’ve got. One of Australia’s most enduring bands, about to release their 6th CD, not a cent to their name, small, but intensely passionate following.

I firmly believe North Melbourne should adopt them as their mascots.


The great Greg Champion’s ‘That’s the Thing About Football’ is a perfect footy song. Perfect!

It works best, for me, going to watch a match with old friends or family. It has a warmth that shares. A genuine love of the game. Almost an innocence.

It’s everything positive. Good for both dickheads on their lazy Sunday sessions, and families.

Look him up. He is releasing something to do with his 20 years of recording music right now, a lot of it Country, a lot of it footy. He should be given an NBE or QOM or LBW, or whatever those things are the Queen gives out, for services to both.

I love the bloke and will promote him shamelessly.


There’s two sorts of head sets for going to watch footy live.

One, is all pumped up and determined. As if your undiluted focus is one of those “one-percenters” coaches are always talking about. Where you believe your intensity, the force of your support, while watching, can make a difference, or a drop in your concentration, or momentary lapse in faith, could be fatal. When you need to hear something involving aggression and chaos.

or even


Hell yeah.


Or, if you’re feeling more like a cowboy heading for a showdown, almost anything by Link Wray


Two, is all cruisy, as if footy is a fun thing. A celebration. Paul Kelly springs to mind. Or maybe something a little different.


What a song!


Inspiration is inspiration. Anything that makes you feel has power. It doesn’t have to be fast and thrashing.


If you’re playing, well, that’s something entirely different.


Old farts and old dogs should never, ever try and fire the team up with Rose Tattoo, Survivor or Pat Benatar.

Sorry, it’s a new generation. Eye of the Tiger, all that poncy 80s keyboard reminding you some things date better than others.


For years I used the might, might, mighty BUNKER HILL!!

The Baptist Preacher from Down South had that relentless push that doesn’t need to be flat out. That you can fit into the rhythm of your breathing when you run.

That makes you feel invincible!


And, to the other extreme, believe it or not, when I was younger, for a year, tried using the theme music from UFO, the kids television series made by the people who did the Thunderbirds.

Embarrassing to tell, not very mucho, but if you can’t laugh at yourself, what’s the point to anything?

There were no words, it was simple. The horns kept punching. It had that push and rise. That upward energy.


Still, people change. Or I do, I hope. It’s been years since I used music on an oval. I love the silence. The moments when you can suck in hard air and look around and take it in. Hear the crowd murmur, the players putting off someone down the other end as he aims to kick a goal that will sink them.

Hear the cows in the background, or the ocean.

In real life there’s always a telly blaring, or radio rambling, or, at work, a chainsaw squealing, dozer rumbling, men shouting. There’s a simplicity to the silence and voices on an oval. A purity.

The sounds of football.


But, damn, I love cranking my tinny tin-can ute stereo on the way to and from it!


My love of music stays the same, but my tastes evolve. U.V. Race have just the right blend of surge and stupidity to keep it all in perspective for me.

They’re my favourite band at the moment.

If I need to calm down while driving to the game I play the Spoils. If I need that surge I play Total Control or Dynamo.

Something about the fact I know the people from all of those bands appeals as I go, an ocean and lifetime from them, into the back paddocks to play football. I love knowing, in music, those friends have their own power, their own pride and invincibility. Their own primal, physical release.

That, to them, music, not football, is all about want! If not obsession. That these things exist everywhere.

Anything done by Vasco Era inspires me.

Jesus! I used to coach them in junior footy! Back when they were kids. Ever since, their music always drags me back into the land of the living.

It, and any of Mikey Young’s bands, always make me play that bit harder.


Sometimes, a song’s power is just in a line. Sports Tonight did the biggest stuff up of all time when they built their David Campese tribute around ‘Can’t Find a Better Man’, a heart-wrenching song, if they’d listened, about a battered woman who keeps returning to her wife-beating husband.


I once had a teammate as smart as Chanel 10, who, not having a clue what the song was about, would grab the mike off the cover band and sing it, terribly, on beer garden Sunday sessions, as if it was about him. Supposedly to his girlfriend, but, really, to all of us.

He was good for a giggle.


Wye River is a great little inlet between Lorne and Apollo Bay on the Great Ocean Road, that looks tidy, but, back in the day, was housed by all sorts of great loose units.

They used to have The Wye Day Out. A piss take of the Big Day Out, at the end of each tourist season. Eight bands on the back of a truck, on the beach, for the bar staff, the cooks, the garbos, the caravan park operators, the lawn mowers and bush workers.

The locals, unwinding by letting off steam. Digging it.

The last act one year, once we’d all spent a full day in the sun and were rotten, was the Mike Brady Band. We all joked and shouted ‘Up there Cazaly!’ at him. Brady was usually very interactive, but every time we did he ignored us. It was as though the song was his millstone, an enormous shadow he wanted to move out from.

We kept at him. He kept ignoring us.

Then, near midnight, when we thought it was all done and dusted, he came out for an encore with a big grin, floodlights we didn’t even know where there lit the place up like burning white clouds of Heaven, he absolutely belted out the opening lines, and everybody went damn loopy! The footyheads, the surfies, the alternatives who hated football, the hippies, all of us throwing their hands in the air, singing, falling down and taking speckies with stubbie holders, thongs and anything we could find, over park benches, bins, confused stray dogs and each other.

Thanks, Mike, from the absolute heart.


You have your immortality.


Best, for me, was when, after 28 years of trying, I won my first senior flag. The team, eyes bloodshot red, dressed as clowns, wrestlers, ballet dancers, Bob the Builder, the Hulk and Dermie, were drinking our way through Mad Monday in a pub in the industrial section of the city.

It was my turn on the jukebox. Sick of Queens of the Stone-Age, Spiderbait and Guns and Roses, I played the AFL version of our club song.

The room was a beaut horse-shoe bar. I watched as, one-by-one, the boys picked up on it: the trumpets, the brass band, the ye-old singing, a goddamn banjo!! It felt weird to hear it like that. The weirdest. We’d only ever yelled it, flat-line, tuneless, in a mud-spattered circle.

Parks lead the charge, standing on the bar rail, chest out, chin in, all of us cocking our elbows, sawing our fists back-and-forward like barber-shop dickheads.

It sounded brilliant.




I remember driving back from that Grand Final, near the Tassie South-East coast. It was already well dark, Nutsy’s brother behind the wheel. A song came on, or I put it on, I have no idea, that was the opposite of footy.

“What the hell is this?” Nutsy’s brother said, looking to search for something more like victories.

“Give it a minute,” I said.

The song was pure gold, regardless of what it was really about. Victories, to me. More, even, than up on the podium. It gave me time, in the smooth, dark, winding roads, to realize I’d done it. Won a senior flag, a good decade after I’d given up hope.

I was safe in it, and in love with it. Everything else after, I knew, would be noise, brilliant noise and going through winning motions.


Somebody else might read this and not agree with a single song. That’s fine, too. The best. There is no right or wrong.

It’s all good. All of it.


I’m a firm believer in football and music.


  1. Well worth the time of day!! enjoyed it!!! Frosty on Matts computuer

  2. what a list! – plenty of high quality tunes in there, brother!

  3. Malby Dangles says:

    Very cool piece liked reading about the GF win of yours. The connection between footy and music is really interesting. My connection with footy nowadays is mostly to what’s on the TV but even then I notice that when they show the footballers coming off the bus or in the change rooms they usually have headphones on.
    Trying to think of what films/tv shows try to make this connection. There is a cool scene from the overblown (and highly entertaining) epic ‘Any Given Sunday’ when the white players and the black players have an argument about what music to listen to after a game.
    Also liked the Dynamo mention! :)

  4. I first saw Dynamo at a random motorbike rally in the middle of nowhere, involving kids, women \, men in tutus and postie bikes, at about 3am, on a stage made out of timber mill off cuts, backed by a screen that was playing Mad Max. What was not to fall in love with?

  5. Oh, that’s right, the move came on after the band, as the sun was rising.

  6. Malcolm Ashwood says:

    Loved this article , Matt would have taken some time two ! Funny as a non music person about the only time I resonate with music is re sport and I reckon every single person who has been involved in a , Premiership ha sung , WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS at some stage and while , Ad Uni FC is so much more important than the crows I do associate , The Holy Grail with being at the , G after the , 97 GF
    Thanks Matt sensational

  7. Matt Zurbo says:

    Yeah, we’ve all sung that shit song, Mal! Bit what a great line… We are the Champions, MY FRIENDS!

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