If Footy Teams Were Bands… or Something Like That

This is my slightly absurd, unfairly facetious and totally time wasting view of the current AFL sides if they were rock bands. I have applied a rigorous scientific approach by literally connecting the AFL team to a band that has the same (or near enough to the same) name as the AFL team’s nickname. Then I have severely bent meaning in the direction I chose to make a joke or a point. This bemused me for an hour or so, I trust it leads you to a laugh or two. More than that, I hope it engages you to ponder the greater meaning of life and the struggles we endure. Nah, a laugh is as good as you’ll get here.
So now, in no particular order, other than a countdown of the AFL 2014 Ladder, may I present (drum roll please) another pointless list:

18. St Kilda – well, obviously, they’re The Saints. Any band that has hits that include I’m Stranded, Know Your Product and Swing for the Crime would be quickly seen as a contender to align with the beleaguered AFL Sainters. That the band also has songs such as Let’s Pretend, Curtains, Massacre and All for Nothing … well, you get the picture. The Saints were a great band. One wonders what they could have been had their two most creative members found common footing and stayed the course. Oh, they could’ve been something else!

17. Melbourne – Demon formed in 1979. They are a rock/metal band. They are considered an important band in the new wave of British Heavy Metal. They have released over 15 albums as well as a DVD. Again, I stress, they are considered an important part of a much bigger scene, crowded out by many more influential and successful bands. But anyway, what has that got to do with Melbourne?

16. Greater Western Sydney – They Might Be Giants are a hard act to define. They are a little bit kooky, a little bit alternative, a little bit brilliant and a little bit lost. TMBG have survived in the rat-race of a music industry and at times they have prospered. They are much liked. Did they win a premiership? Sadly, I don’t think so. The band name is a kinda reference to Don Quixote and GWS are on that kinda search.

15 Brisbane – Winners Never Quit is the album released in 2000 by Pedro the Lion. Essentially a one man band (I’m talking about Pedro the Lion) nonetheless, the album had substance and style. That album included the songs, Slow and Steady Wins the Race, Eye on the Finish Line and Simple Economics. It’s as if the Brisbane Lions wrote the album for their three years of greatness. A later album is called Achilles’ Heel but you shouldn’t read too much into that.

14 Western Bulldogs – Three Dog Night had one hit but what a song. Joy to the World (all the boys and girls, joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea, joy to you and me). You can feel the love can’t you? Touched with a hue of sadness and if you listen, maybe a little bit of the psychedelics. Jerimiah was a what? The song was the theme for the film, The Big Chill. You remember that film. It’s the one about ageing friends trying to remember their glory days.

13. Carlton – a more lenient essayist might opt for The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, a fiery, unconventional unit led by a charismatic front-man. I reckon I’ll go with The Moody Blues. Apparently originally named The M&B 5 after a Birmingham brewery before inspiration over-whelmed them and the new name references a Duke Ellington song. A very Carlton story indeed. Their lot could have been the camaraderie of the tankard but they followed the airs and graces of a style that was losing its lustre even as they were claiming it as their own.

12. Gold Coast – Sun Ra Arkestra. That is all. Led by a genius musican (Sun Ra) they were “an ensemble with an ever-changing and flexible line-up, although certain core members remained with the group” – quote from Wikipedia. They are either the next big thing or they will be a name on everyone’s’ lips for what they could have been. Without Sun Ra they would just be another jobbing orchestra.

11. Collingwood – this band was one of the UK super-groups of the late ‘60s. Their name? Humble Pie. How could you fit so many stars into one group and not produce a greater team? Humble Pie and Collingwood ask the same question. Oh, they had their successes and they were well respected but they weren’t Traffic and they weren’t The Faces and then this other band, Led Zeppelin, were coming down the pipe. Frampton jumped ship and … I’m just yapping on about Humble Pie, a band that’s had its day. The Pies, they’re different. Hell, they aren’t even humble.

10. Adelaide – you know I want to align them with a band (Counting Crows) that began its career playing coffeehouses in San Francisco and ends up with a big hit courtesy of the film, Shrek 2. That is such an Adelaide story. But I think they are more Old Crow Medicine Show. That’s a compliment. An old timey band, they had a distinctive identity from the get go. However, like the footy team, it took an association with a legend (Bob Dylan) for them to make their mark. The song, Wagon Wheel is the equivalent of back to back premierships and while they have continued to produced top class tunes (and footy) they haven’t found the next big hit … yet.

9. West Coast – Life in the fast lane indeed. Far from enjoying a peaceful easy feeling The Eagles took it to the limit and are paying the price. The band’s biggest asset is its harmonies but a disharmonious mood became the band and that is its cross. More than that, having seen them live recently, they just aren’t as good as ticket sales suggest. Maybe, like their home town, the club might be saddled with the spectre of the band’s most well-known prophesy, “you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave”.

8. Richmond – punk aggression, rockabilly twang mixed with the macabre. Am I talking about Richo? No I’m talking about the band Tiger Army. Their website goes on, “dark and brooding, without being cartoonish”. Okay, we’re definitely not talking about Richo. This is one hard working and committed band, stomping all over the world on tour supporting more well-known bands but never throwing in the towel. Have they even felt the soft glow of the headliner’s lights? Um, not so much. But they plough on like an army of big cats. Ever reliable, ever the entertaining but discordant band.

7. Essendon – If there wasn’t a band called Golden Bomber, I would have had to make it up. But there is no way I could have invented the actual band. They are a Japanese ‘air’ rock band. They don’t actually play the music themselves but they are loved because of the theatricality of their show. They keep releasing songs and keep staging concerts but they don’t play instruments. It’s as if they don’t accept reality. Crazy, huh.

6. Fremantle – they came crashing into the competition, as lost in the fun and mayhem of the contest as they tried to be their best. They were provocative and earnest in equal measure. You never thought they’d hit it big but quietly you suspected that they just might. Painters and Dockers were all piss and vinegar, vulgar and clever. You just knew that the one thing that would help them was a controlled and focussed coach but maybe that would also be the undoing of the sheer spunk that was their beginnings. Time will be the judge.

5. Geelong – Cat Power’s sound is a mix of the best blend of different genres that essentially became rock and roll and man doesn’t she play it well. Her best known album is The Greatest. It is considered one of the best albums of its time. She reinvented herself and it paid off handsomely. It won her lots of fans and respect. At its centre is Cat Power’s stunning voice but without the arrangements and production all it would be would be a great singing voice. Combined, it is rock and roll at its most pure, most adventurous, most soulful. Can she produce another album as good as that? Who knows. But Cat Power did give us The Greatest.

4. North Melbourne – It is outrageous that this list is not allowed to include Big Star’s greatest song, Kangaroo. Big Star, like Velvet Underground, are better known for the bands they influenced than success. Unfortunately rules are rules and Kangaroo is a song not a band name. For the record, critics reckon the song Kangaroo is “as beautifully damaged as rock and roll gets”. The Shinboners band therefore is Kangaroo Knife Fight (a little bit ironic, a little bit homage to their ROOtS – yep, punning all day long). This band, a mix of soul grooves and punk aggression, bleed emotion. Some reckon they were the best rock experience of the last year. All they need now is that winning formula.

3. Port Adelaide – remember The Power Station? Hard rock meets synth pop meets the disco end of funk meets a big drum sound. They came roaring out of the blocks, part mongrel influences, part super-group with a polished, vigorous sound (Some Like it Hot) and man they were gunna set the world on fire. They were memorable but not long lasting … Oh, how dare you suggest I’m trying to put the mocker on that fine team from the city of churches that almost ruined Hawthorn’s party. How dare you!

2. Sydney – Swans formed in 1982 as an experimental band in NYC. They have described themselves as “majestic, beautiful looking creatures, with really ugly temperaments”. You know, just like the, er, bird. They have built a strong following and an even stronger critical regard. Against the odds (and occasionally due to their own hard-headedness) they have survived and become an acclaimed band. At their best they are a soaring, kaleidoscopic wonder of sound (The Seer, Song for a Warrior). To be feared and respected in equal measure. They are a mainstream success (now) but still they don’t quite fit in. That’s a compliment.

1. Hawthorn – in the ‘60s there was this jobbing band called The Hawks, with a bit of talent but no direction home. When a mentor (Bob Dylan, if you don’t mind) started working with them their musical capabilities lifted, their game changed and they literally became the band. Following a world tour where audiences didn’t know what to make of them they decamped to Woodstock and set up the template, arrangements, instruments and sounds of what would form the most successful and critically acclaimed music genre for the next 50 years. Call it country rock, call it alt-country, call it roots rock, hell, just call it the rock of ages. The Hawks (or The Band) are one of the most influential bands in rock music (they influenced The Beatles!) with scores of awards and premierships. Their greatest song, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, like the Hawks footy style, feels as if it’s from another era and yet strikingly fresh and bold. Wrapped up in a guernsey of never say die integrity.

About Rick Kane

Up in the mornin', out on the job Work like the devil for my pay But that lucky old sun has nothin' to do But roll around Heaven all day


  1. Love. Your. Work Trucker Slim.

    Simply outstanding with the Old Crow Medicine Show. If only it were 20 something years ago and fate saw him at Adelaide instead of Hawthorn, OCMS could have changed it from ‘When Dey Wud No Crawfish’ to ‘When Dey Wud No CRAWSHAY’

    See Andrew Fithall, I has some music skillz myself there!

  2. Joe Moore says

    Brilliant. Thank you Rick. Perfect soulful piece to read in the lead up to a season opener.

    Just about to go and check out ‘Golden Bomber’. A Japanese air rock band must be seen to believed!

  3. Hawkwind = Rick Kane

  4. Trucker Slim and the Long Bombs- sounds just the ticket
    Great laterals from poetry to music. Saw a few bands in Richmond heartland at Francis Burkes pub. Wonder how Fankie’s hearing is today. So Richmond definitely had the edge and rawness of Lobby Lloyd and the Coloured Sherrins, Billy Thorpe and the Mullets ( in deference to the supporters’ coif preferences). Captain Beefheart or Ian Drury and the Blockheads for those of the hard ball proclivities of yesteryear ie Footscray and Fitzroy. Perhaps if Mick Nolan and the old Norths could be represented by a band it would be a straight up the guts outfit like Ramones.

  5. Bakes,
    I am sure Andrew F would be impressed!

  6. Fantastic Rick.
    Even Wiki rants at how desperately The Hawks pursued (Garth) Hudson!
    A force since the 60s.

    Poor old ThreeDogNight got airplay with Old Fashioned Love Song way back when.

  7. Rick Kane says

    Thanks for the comments guys.

    Crio, what a pick up! How did I miss the Hudson reference? And yes, Three Dog Night did have other songs that made the charts, lets call that getting to the finals.

    Smokie and Bakes, Mr Fithall could easily do his version of this (with newer, hipper Aussie artists included).

    Thanks nank, I did consider bands that best represent the ethos of a club. My way was the easier road!

    Les, Hawkwind would have fitted if I was writing about a club I didn’t barrack for.

    Mr Moore, I pissed myself when I came across Golden Bomber. Only in Tokyo!

    Cheers Bakes & very funny

  8. Phil Dimitriadis says

    Great stuff West Preston Rick Kane. WPRK wasn’t that a radio station from some Yank sitcom with Loni Anderson?

    I thought you’d give Collingwood ‘The Pretenders’ or at least ‘The Animals’ but I think we’re beyond being misunderstood for growing up in the house of the rising sun in a dirty old part of the city. Missed you Wednesday night mate. Gave it a good shake!

  9. Rick, Three Dog Night also struck the charts with ‘Mama Told Me Not To Come’. There must’ve been plenty of Dogs fans over the last 60-odd years who’d muttered something similar to themselves watching the Scraggers chalk up another loss.

  10. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Clever stuff Rick.

    Did you consider the High Rise Bombers?

    You were a bit soft on my mob.

    Phil, The Pretenders also did Tattooed Love Boys, another apt Pies reference.

  11. John Butler says

    I dunno Kaney, when I think Hawthorn I think of the Trilobites – most particularly their song “All Hail The New Right”.

  12. sean gorman says

    Nice Job Trucker
    West Coast =

  13. matt watson says

    Well done Rick,
    Loved reading this.
    You captured the Roos very well…

  14. Andrew Fithall says

    Sorry it took me so long to get to this Rick. Very enjoyable. On the subject of Japanese band, the Soil and “Pimp” Sessions were on the line-up at Golden Plains last month. They describe themselves as “Japanese Death Jazz”. Wasn’t a genre I was familiar with and on seeing them, not sure there will be many other participants. But they were fun nevertheless.

    Steve Baker – I know you are familiar with old music. My plan is to get you a little up-to-speed on what is good about today’s music. Memory stick still being compiled.


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