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, https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/66151153   

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….

CHEER BOYS, CHEER WE ARE THE NORTHIES

IT’S ONLY NOW WE’RE COMING INTO FORM,

INTO FORM.

WE WILL COVER THEM IN MUD

AND COVER THEM IN BLOOD

IF THEY ONLY PLAY A FAIR AND HONEST GAME.

WE’RE THE SAME OLD NORTH AS WE USED TO BE

WE’RE THE SAME OLD NORTH AS WE WILL ALWAYS BE

YOU CAN TAKE MY TIP

WE WILL WIN THE PREMIERSHIP

FOR THE GOOD OLD BLACK AND WHITE

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.