The Search for The Same Old Song.

Search for the Same Old Essendon….

 In the very first episode of our podcast, we talked about the history of the Essendon Football Club, and one factor we loved was that the team used to be known as “The Same Olds” named after a song that supporters used to sing. In that first episode we declared that we would “try and find a copy of this song”. But it appears to be a much more elusive song then we first realized. Being part of a history based podcast, you must have some research skills, and initially we thought it would just be a matter of finding the right history book and reading through it. However the information I the book only alluded to the song and its origins, with no clear indication of what the actual tune was.

From published books this is what was found

Flying Higher – History of the Essendon Football Club 1872 – 1994, under the subheading 1894 – Four Premierships in a row, Page 43.

“Essendon supporters, delighted at their teams success year after year, a had a parody song on the words of an old poem set to music. It was known as the “Same Old Essendon” and at every match they would sing the chorus in the old stand at the East Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The Same Old Essendon we used to be,

The same old Essendon we are you see

At the end of the season, that premiership flag,

The same Old Essendon will have it in the bag

For the Same Old Essendon we are.

 There is some doubt about the actual words as it was reported later in the “Essendon Gazette” that the words were:

 The same old Essendon that they used to be

The same old Essendon that we love to see

You may take the straightest tip,

That we’ll win the premiership

For they’re always the same old Essendon.

The newspaper reported the that the author was Alfred Fox of Flemington and that he got the inspiration while a match was in progress at East Melbourne. “

 From an illustrated history of the Essendon Football Club Page 26

The Essendon Gazette, in its report on the opening of Windy Hill in 1922, recalled how Essendon fans would join hands and sin this song “With vigor that made the rafters of the paviolions (EMCG) shake”. The newspaper also noted that the song, attributed to supporter Alfred Fox, was handed down from father to son.”

So how did we try and track it down, the first step was to look through Trove. Doing this we were able to establish that the very first mention of the name “Same Olds” in reference to Essendon Football Club was from The Herald, dated Saturday 29th June 1889. It reads

   “They kept the oval well forward, and Munritz marked to Chadwick, who put on sixth goal amidst a selected song "the same old Essendon" from an assemblance of barrackers in the grand stand”.


This reference outdates the premiership years of 1891-1894, where many people speculate this term was first being used, to describe the team that kept on winning.

Many other mentions of the name are littered throughout the second half of 1889.

North Melbourne Advitiser August 3 1889,   

Essendon’s barrackers, who with their ‘singing band’ are now a recognized institution, occupied nearly half the grand stand and enclosures in front and rendered several musical selections with great gusto, being lead by conductors who vigorously beat the air with black and red flags. The refrain of the principal item being.

The same old Essendon that they used to be

The same old Essendon that we love to see

You may take the straightest tip,

That we’ll win the premiership

For they’re always the same old Essendon”.


There are differing reports of the lyrics, with some articles describing it as a chant,  barracking set to music, a club choir, a jubilant chorus,

Other mentions of the name “Same Olds” often refer to other teams from the Essendon area as well, including Cricket, Baseball, Rowing and Lawn Bowls. It was also sung when important people might arrive at a train station in Essendon, or when the team departed for a trip interstate.  

Our searches have included trying to track down Alfred Fox of Flemington, and countless searches on the Trove website, searching through old papers.

But every search we made came up with lyrics and descriptions of supporters singing the song, however no one knew the tune.

We spoke to Jack Jones, former player in the 40’s and 50’s, he knew what we meant, but couldn’t tell us the tune. It seemed our search was at an end, until Phil Roberts gave us a copy of the North Ballarat Roosters history book. Casually flipping through that book I discovered there “Old Club song” has very similar words….












There are 4 lines here that are too similar to ignore. We got in contact with Phil Roberts, who in turn pointed us in the direction of Stanley “Digger” Roberts, who kindly sent us a copy of the North Ballarat songs, and low and behold we had ourselves a recording of their club song, with the lyrics that are eerily similar to that of Essendon’s Same Old song.  

The tune sounds very similar to “I’ve been working on the railroad” and “Dinah’s in the kitchen” both of which date back to the 1800’s, so this fits the time frame for the creation of the Essendon song.

The only thing we don’t have is a connection between Essendon and Ballarat, and a possible reason why they would have the same lyrics.

The best we can currently do is our interpretation of the song, including the original lyrics that we know, for the Same Olds.

In the meantime, the search continues….

In the meantime have a listen to the song here.

Other Same Old's References

Sportsman Wednesday Sept4th 1889  

The losers prepared to pay and look pleasant as the Essendon players missed shot after shot

for goal, and the barrackers, in place of blasting the buglers, endeavored to encourage and, at the same time, console them. The means used to bring about this same encouragement differed from the barracking of the old days. And I must confess it was a considerable improvement

on the old style. In place of the hoarse old admonitions to which we have been accustomed, “On the ball, Billy” or “Kick it with your foot" (on occasions where the barracker was fearful lest the

player should "kick " with his head) we were treated to barracking set to music. A sort of war song in fact, and a most extraordinary war song. Something about 'The Same Old Essendon."

Always I should imagine a sad and mournful dirge, the refrain on Saturday, as chorussed by the Essendon barrackers, when Geelong's victory was almost assured, was rendered

piteouslv plaintive, but in spite of all the barracking in rhyme is a long way preferable to barracking in blank— very blank — verse.”


North Melbourne Advertiser Friday October 4 1889     

Essendon, still cherish the hope that next year will again see the red and black prominent and that they will reverse the words of the famous war song and prove the same old Essendon, Beginning well and ending badly, but begin well and finish as they started and above all learn to kick goals”.


The Express and Telegraph Fri Aug 30 1889 -

 The dark blue team were the first to make their appearance on the ground, and when the Essendon appeared their supporters immediately started chanting the " The same old Essendon" with an exultant vigor that showed how confident of victory they were.


The Herald Sat 12 April 1890

"The same old Essendon" _____ joyfully did the barrackers and supporters of this club attune their voices, and with much' vigor did they warble in the earlier portion of last season, when the redoubtable South Melbourne went down before them. They gave their supporters hopes that having beaten South from that time— '24th May—to the end of the season their march would be a triumphant one.


Geelong Advertiser Mon 8th Sept 1890

Finlay, who, with a running shot, scored first goal for the same old Essendon," minus the musical accompaniment, which the club's choir in the days of old treated the onlookers to.

Barrier Miner (Borken Hill) Friday 21 August 1891 -

…..while the stentorian cheers of the red-and-black supporters went up, flags and colors were waved, and they broke into their jubilant chorus of "The same old Essendon," now well known on Melbourne football grounds.

An interesting insight into music in Melkbourne in the 1890’s

The Australasian Sat 9th July 1892  -

In composition, nothing short of a bonus could have managed in a few short years to convert the obituary columns of the daily newspaper from a melancholy corner into a column of perennial interest. We have got as far as the football song, and there are thousands in Melbourne to-day who discover nothing finer in our literature than " The Same Old Essen don," and who think the " Charge of the Light Brigade " spiritless and out of date as compared with " The Bonnie Carlton Blue."

Geelong Advertiser  Monday 15th August 1892 -

….kicked ninth goal for the Essendon team, the crowd cheering vociferously, and the vocal band striking up " Same old Essendon." The performance was repeated three minutes afterwards, when Christian gave Thurgood a mark and tenth goal for Essendon was recorded.

The Australasian Sat Oct 8 1892 -

"Hail to the red and black - same old Essendon." So sings Mr. Manning and all Jolimonters. 

 The Herald Sat 13th may 1922 -

Once more the joyous notes of "Same Old Essendon," the battle cry of the eighties and nineties, when Essendon were the invincible , team in Melbourne' football, arose and floated over the peaceful streets of a suburb that felt; that its real gala day; had at last arrived.!

Weekly Times Sat Oct 3, 1896 -

At the same, time it is recognized that the supremacy of some other team will do no harm to the game. The triumphant song of the "same old" Essendon, is apt to become monotonous, when heard for more than four seasons out of six.

Punch THur 16th July 1908 -

The big crowd left well satisfied (and they were hogs if they wanted more), but 'way up in the loft yonder came the strains of—

"Good old Essendon!  the same as was before !

The same old Essendon, as in the days of yore!”

 Winner (Melb) Wed Sept 16 1914

I do not suppose any team ever had such a strong and loyal body of supporters as Essendon had in those palmy days. How they used to roar out their chorus at each goal—

'The same old Essendon they used to b«:

The same old Essendon -we e'er shall see.

You can take your straightest tip

They're off for Premiership—

For they're always the same old Essendon.'

Well might their supporters wax poetical over such a team— the mighty Thurgood…..

The Herald Sat 23 April 1921 -

Fleming led the team in' 1921 when it won the championship of the association for the first lime, but in the three succeeding years the "Same Olds" were again champions, with Alec Dick as their leader. Those were years, of phenomenal success. The team was unbeatable— a fact which caused their supporters to adopt a song in which the words "Same Old Essendon" occurred frequently. The name still sticks, and is often heard when the team is in winning form.

 The Herald May 30th 1924 -

years ago Essendon's barrackers prided themselves on their singing, although their repertoire was limited to one ditty, "The ' Same Old Essendon,"sung only on the occasion of victory. Matters musical have improved since those days, and the sons and daughters of those choristers now produce real music as the Essendon Operatic Society”.

The daily news (Perth) Wed 13 August 1924


"Same old" Essendon that used to be;

"Some old" Essendon we love to see;

We won the other day, and we'll win the next we play,

For we're always the same old Essendon.

One, two, three, four, who wouldn't play for Essendon.

So happy and so free, who wouldn't play for Essendon.

And the fight for victory.

 As lustily as forty powerful throats could render it the war song of the famed Essendon Football Club was heard for the first time in Perth to-day, when players and officials of this celebrated Victorian club arrived here on a ten days' visit. Essendon is a club of unrivalled traditions; they were premiers of the Victorian League last year, and this season are again in the lead. There was an enthusiastic scene at the Central Station, old "Essendonians" joining with the W.A.F.L. in according the tourists a welcome.

Frankston and Somerville Standard Fri 19th June 1925

He (Mr A.Dick) considers that Essendon barrackers are not so musical now as they

used to be in the old East Melbourne stand, when they frequently struck up the good old chorus: -

"The same old Essendon that used to be, "

The same old Essendon we love to see;

We won the other day,

And will win the next we play,

For we are always the same old Essendon." -

 The Herald Fri 30th April 1926 -

In the long ago, when Essendon were sent Into battle by the singing of the war song, "The Same Old Essendon".

 The Mercury Fri 23 July 1926 -

One recalls those happy times when the Essendon players; singing their warsong, "The Same Old Essendon that used to be," aroused great public interest as they were driven around the principal streets of Hobart prior to being dropped at the Carlton Club Hotel, which always was their headquarters, in the days when "mine host" was a Mr. Cherry, formerly of Ballarat, who gave to Hobart football sterling players in "Ted" Cherry (afterwards a fine field umpire), Charlie Cherry (a regular sky-scraping mark); and Bert Cherry (a very proficient wingman). Now after so many years, the "same old"red and blacks, revisit Hobart, and return to "the Carlton club Hotel, where they are being looked after by an old-time footballer in "Jack" Donnellan," whose health, one is sorry to say, has been somewhat precarious of late.

 Sporting Globe –Wed 20th July 1927 -

The term the Same old" Essendon is supposed to originate from the old song, which went as follow:

"The same old Essendon we love to see,

The same old Essendon as used to be.

We won- the other day, and we will win the next we play, , _

For we are always the same old Essendon.

That song has been sung with great gusto by supporters for many years.