We Only Sing When We’re Winning

It’s hard to argue that the SRU don’t do their best to try and create a great atmosphere inside Murrayfield on an International match day. There’s fireworks, explosions, cannons, balls parachuted onto the pitch, the odd national hero and the often stirring acapella singing of Flower of Scotland; all designed to get the crowd into a frenzy.

However the crowd’s contribution in the 80 minutes that follows is often lacking, especially when things aren’t going Scotland’s way. Cheering, shouting, but singing?

In the face of swinging Chariots, The Fields of Athenry, Ou Est Le Papier or the entire Welsh valleys choirbook, there are two go-to options for the Scottish crowd. Number one, the National Anthem; and number two, a droning chant of “Scoooootttlannnd/ Scoooooooootttllannnnnd”.

Football fans do it much better, enlivening the dullest of matches with a song and engaging with whatever rival fans are singing (rather than just trying to drown it out). Songs don’t even have to have anything to do with what’s happening on the pitch or who’s playing. Scottish football fans have, inexplicably, taken to singing “Doe-a-deer” from the Sound Of Music. Humour can even be found when suffering heavy losses, such as the infamous Tartan Army chant of “we’ll support you till four.”

Given the great tradition of bawdy songs sung on rugby buses and in clubhouses up and down the land it’s surprising that this hasn’t translated to the stands. So here’s an opportunity to add some material to the Scotland rugby fan songbook. We’ve come up with a couple of suggestions but would love to hear some from you too. Keep them clean so the kids can join in and let’s see if we can’t get some going during the Six Nations.

Songs could be about players…

“He’s big/ He’s blonde/ His legs are five miles long/ It’s Richie Gray/ Richie Gray!”

“Our Johnnie plays over the ocean/ our Johnnie plays over the sea/ He’s gonnae smash ye tae pieces/ That’s why we love Johnnie Beattie!”

Could be a response to opposition fans…

“You’re not swinging low any more!”

Or even a satirical sing-song during a heavy loss…

“Are you Tonga in disguise?”

No prizes for the best, just a smug sense of satisfaction if any make it into the stands.

UPDATE: this article got written up in the Scotsman here, and also appeared on the Scottish Rugby Facebook page. Heady heights indeed!

Born a Souter but brought up just south of the Border in Berwick where he played for Berwick RFC as a kid any any position where cover was needed.
Follow Cammy on twitter @CammyBlack

48 comments on “We Only Sing When We’re Winning

  1. WilliamJohn on

    (Sung to the tune of You Cannae Kick Yer Granny aff the Bus, name changed depending on who just scored or made a break)
    Johnny’s got the ball, yes it’s true
    Johnny’s got the ball, yes it’s true
    Johnny’s got the ball
    Try tae stop him you’ve nae chance at all
    Johnny’s got the ball, yes it’s true

    (Sung to the tune of I Belong to Glasgow)
    I belong to Scotland
    Scotland fair and true
    There’s something the matter cause Scotland scored
    Our faith we pledged to you

    I’m only a common old Scotland fan
    Try walking a mile in ma shoes
    But when you get the ball and you answer our call
    With pride we wear the blue

    England Bashing, all to the tune of Ye Cannae Kick Yer Granny aff the Bus:

    Line Outs:
    Oh, Hartley cannae throw the ball in straight
    Oh, Hartley cannae throw the ball in straight
    Oh, Hartley cannae throw the ball
    He is Kiwi after all
    Oh, Hartley cannae throw the ball in straight

    When Robshaw is talking to the ref:

    Robshaw is the captain, yes it’s true
    Robshaw is the captain, yes it’s true
    Stuart made him captain
    But Martin didnae like him
    Robshaw is the captin, yes it’s true

    Bit nasty but he’s a nasty man:
    Oh, Calum Clark likes breaking people’s arms
    Oh, Calum Clark likes breaking people’s arms
    Oh, Calum Clark likes breaking,
    It looks like he is aching?
    Oh, someone’s broken Calum Clark’s arm.

    But you’ve got another flanker called James Haskell (or whoever)
    But you’ve got another flanker called James Haskell
    But you’ve got another flanker
    And flanker rhymes with …..
    Oh you’ve got another flanker called James Haskell

    (obviously, it should be an actual …. :) )

  2. Fraser on

    Or the bit in Loch Lomond that goes
    Ho, ho mo leannan
    Ho, mo leannan bhoidheach

    It would certainly encourage me if I heard the whole crowd singing it

  3. Hamish on

    The Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen! You can absolutely belt it out and the lyrics are easy to remember. Ends on a high note are always good, uplifting!

  4. EJS on

    This has long been a source of annoyance to me. Even at home games when we are meant to be dominating the atmosphere we are so often drowned out, with only Flower of Scotland (great as it is) and the embarrassing “Scotland, Scotland” to combat it.

    Could we not start a national campaign to try and get an “official unofficial” song that is sung at Scotland rugby games? It can be done – apparantly there is some politician who has has generated some momentum with his pro-Scotland views! Cameron, do you have no contacts at The Scotsman and/or any other publications that can spread the word?!! How about Facebook, Twitter, Scotland rugby blogs… LET’S MAKE SOME NOISE AND GET BEHIND OUR NATION!!!

    • Cameron Black on

      From the comments section on their website it looks like most Scotchman readers have a problem getting behind the team let along getting up for a singsong.
      It’s not something you can force either. I think people tend to be suspicious of attempts to create a false atmosphere. I think the best hope is for pockets of fans to try it out and hopefully everyone else will catch on

  5. Robert on

    This seems to be endemic in Scotland, both at internationals and at Glasgow and Edinburgh games… In fact, the ‘Scotland Scotland’ chant is exactly the same tune as at Glasgow, except they just replace ‘Scotland’ with ‘Glasgow’. Genius.

    I’d love to sing Loch Lomond or Caledonia at a game, but the vast majority of the crowd just don’t seem to be interested (or don’t know the lyrics, although I think the former is more likely).

    And I agree with EJS about being drowned out. I was at the Scotland/France game last year and the French has us well and truly outsung, even when Scotland were bossing the game. I can only imagine the boost it gives the opposition team playing away from home to hear their fans stand up and sing them on.

  6. Phoenix on

    Robert/Cameron, there are 12 of us heading down on Saturday also so we will see what we can generate from the north stand!

    3-2-1 ‘by yon bonnie banks…’

  7. Robert on

    Good stuff lads. I’ll be watching the game from a pub in Pittsburgh, but I’ll be there in spirit, singing away and hoping for a historic win. It’s been 30 years, Laidlaw is playing in the same position as his legendary uncle, and our backs are against the wall. Gie them laldy and who knows what can happen?

    Oh, and this would be my song of choice. A bit maudlin, but gives me goosebumps every time:

    Caledonia

    So let me tell you that I love you
    That I think about you all the time
    Caledonia you’re calling me
    And now I’m going home
    And if I should become a stranger
    You know that it would make me more than sad
    Caledonia’s been everything I’ve ever had

  8. Dave on

    Well said EJS. Let’s make some noise!

    The SRU should print the lyrics to some of these suggestions in the match day programs and make an announcement saying so. Might encourage a few people to give it a go.

    • Cameron Black on

      Personally I think this has to come from fans. I remember the SRU pumping crowd noise into Murrayfield in the past to boost the atmosphere and it didn’t go down well at all. The best chants and songs at football matches don’t come from the match programme or stadium announcements they come from the fans.

    • Cameron Black on

      There seems to be a groundswell of support for giving Loch Lomond this weekend though so might be the start of something beautiful. Remember and tell everyone it started on the Scottish Rugby Blog!

  9. Matto on

    Great article. My brother was going crazy about this at the Argies game a few years ago. Having a right go at the crowd for being a stuffy bunch of miseries (or something to that affect). He was actually a wee bit too pissed and being a twanger, but he did have a point. The atmosphere at Murrayfield, in terms of crowd participation, is pretty poor these days. I think this is a very good idea, and I also think that having it printed on programmes for home games isnae a bad idea either. Loch Lomond and the Caledonia chorus would be excellent, tuneful, additions to Flower of Scotland and a mahoosive improvement on Scoooooooooootland. I’ll be heading to Twickers (2 Scots, 4 Anglos…)keen to join in!

    • Cameron Black on

      I remember sitting at a Wales game a few years back and the bloke behind me and my brother spent 80 minutes talking about his new kitchen and landrover. Drove us potty.
      Hopefully we can kickstart something new on Saturday.

  10. EJS on

    Let’s try and spread the word as far as possible. If anyone is a “tweeter” then get it out there (let’s get it viral – I don’t even know what that means!) and the same for Facebook.

    A rendition at Twickenaham would be epic (although annoyingly I suspect it wil be drowned out by Swing Low Sweet Chariot)

    By the way, just as a point of clarification, is the 2nd line of the first verse (not chorus) “Where me and my true love spent many days” OR “where me and my true love will never meet again”? There is some confusion here, and if us 15 or so are going to take HQ by storm then we’ll need to singing off the same sheet!

    #MAKESOMENOISE

    • Cameron Black on

      I’ve been tweeting about it and generated some interest so far. Wouldn’t worry too much about the words so long as we’re all singing roughly the same tune it’ll sound great. Maybe we should just stick to the chorus though. Tends to be what happens at the football.

      Start slow with clapping and then speed up – repeat

  11. EJS on

    ps I also like Dave’s idea of the lyrics in the programme at Murrayfield. (Good head on his shoulders, that guy).

    Surely SOMEONE must know someone who can make this suggestion?!

  12. EJS on

    ps I have emailed the SRU’s “feedback” address with this point. If it makes the prog for the Italy game then a job well done!

  13. eamon roe on

    want an easy one – check out Youtube, Georgia v Auburn American football – think its a college game. NA NA NA NA, NA NA NA NA, HEY HEY HEY, BONNIE SCOTLAND – works for Glw Warriors, not Edin strangely

  14. Pete on

    Fantastic campaign Cameron. Unfortunately I won’t be at Twickers on Sat, but I hope this is the start of something special. There’s a group of us going to the home games, I’ll spread the word.

    • Pete on

      Cameron, I emailed Mark Dodson with a link to this page plus the Scotsman article. I suggested encouraging fans to sings with the possibility of lyrics in the programme.

      Here is the response:
      “Hi Peter,
      Thanks for your note. I have passed this to our marketing team. We want to create the best pre match atmosphere in Europe therefore any good suggestion will be evaluated.
      Everyone here at Murrayfield works hard to bring success to Scottish Rugby and although there is always some gloom around our game it is great to know that people like you share our optimism about what we can achieve. Anything is possible if we work hard, be smart and play with the passion Scotland expects.
      I have just arrived at Twickenham and I can tell you the are a few nervous people down here.
      Thanks again for your note and fingers crossed for Saturday.
      Regards,
      Mark”

  15. Rosco on

    Great site. 10 of us heading down and in the north stand so will get boys singing.

    Btw i heard London Scottish is closed to the public till 330pm due to functions being held there. Can anyone confirm?

    • EJS on

      I have had confirmation from a decent source (friend who’s a physio at LSRFC) that it IS closed to the public until 3:30pm.

      Shocker. This has been our pre-maych routine for years!

      Anyone have any good suggestions for a pre-match venue / song rehearsal?

  16. eternalhope on

    Couldn’t agree with this more. I was at the South Africa game and my mate and I were really disappointed with the atmosphere. We had a small group of south africans behind us and tried our best to return there boks chants but there wasn’t much going round the stadium. At half time I commented to the guy sat next to me about the lack of atmosphere (as I hadn’t been to Murrayfield in several years) and was told the team have got to give the fans something to cheer about first – so wrong!! If playing at home is going to be an advantage the crowd has got to create the atmosphere and lift the team. I hope the words in the program happens and I will be singing at Twickenham this weekend (group of 4 but split 50/50).

  17. Robert on

    With regards to putting the lyrics in the game programme, I’m positive that Glasgow Warriors did this earlier in the season (‘I belong to Glasgow’ was the song I think), so it’s definitely possible, and it’ll be interesting to see what, if anything, Dodson does with this for the home games.

    Also good to see this get some coverage in the Hootsmon as well, but likely to have more success (I’d hope!) getting a song going up at Murrayfield.

  18. Rampant on

    Great effort!

    If we can’t get the lyrics in the programme I’m sure a beer company might be persuaded to print 20-30k flyers with them on as part of some guerrilla marketing campaign.

    The SRU should set up a Backing Blue YouTube Channel of fans and well known Scots singing.
    Maybe create some sort of competition too. Could be a really nice viral marketing campaign.

  19. Blindside on

    @ Rampant – Great Idea. Challenge for all the scottish songwriting talent out there, something stirring but easy to sing? As a starting point/suggestion what about some lyrics to Highland Cathedral?

  20. EJS on

    This is out on Facebook now – great job.

    Any good pre-match venues for those going to the game? (note the point above about London Scottish being closed)

  21. Rampant on

    If you are new to the Richmond/Twickenham area. The best pubs are:

    Richmond: Orange Tree, The Sun Inn, Triple Crown
    St Margarets: Turks Head, St Margarets Tavern
    Twickenham: Eel Pie and the pubs down near the river.

    The Cabbage Patch gets rammed so best to avoid if you actually want a beer.

  22. Rampant on

    Ok folks! Home game! Time to really get Murrayfield singing!
    After singing Loch Lomond walking the dog over the weekend may I suggest the following format:

    (SUNG SLOW LIKE FIELDS OF ATHENRY)
    By yon bonnie banks (pause) an’ by yon bonnie braes (pause)
    Whaur the sun shines bright on Loch Lomond
    Whaur me an’ my true love will ne-er meet again
    On the bonnie, bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomond

    O ye’ll tak’ the high road, and Ah’ll tak’ the low road
    And Ah’ll be in Scotland afore ye
    Fir me an’ my true love will ne-er meet again
    On the bonnie, bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomond.

    (SUNG FASTER AND LOUDER)
    O ye’ll tak’ the high road, and Ah’ll tak’ the low road
    And Ah’ll be in Scotland afore ye
    Fir me an’ my true love will ne-er meet again
    On the bonnie, bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomond.

    Scotland, Scotland, Scotland!

  23. Cameron Black on

    A huge thanks to everyone who supported this. When I wrote this bit for the blog it was supposed to be a light hearted throw-away peice. I think we thought it might generate one or two comments but we’ve been blown away by the reaction.

    So far it’s been picked up by The Scotsman and (perhaps most importantly) The Berwick Advertiser. The SRU also put it on their Facebook page where it recieved over 1000 likes.

    I think this shows that there’s a great desire amongst Scotland fans to get behind the team, even when things aren’t going our way. The support at Twickenham on Saturday was superb, and we were definately more vocal than the otherside throughout.

    We can’t underestimate the effect this has on the players. It’s wrong to think that they should have to produce something on the pitch before we start cheering. Fan’s are the “16th” body on the pitch. Get the noise going and you give your own players a lift and intimidate the opposition.

    Sadly I’m not going to get up to Murrayfield this year but I’m hoping the momentum from Twickenham will carry through the rest of the tournament.

  24. EJS on

    Looks like our efforts may be usurped!! See link

    http://www.scotsman.com/news/audio-scotland-rugby-team-sing-highland-cathedral-1-2776700

    I’d be all over this too – I love Highland Cathedral. However, I do think that, given all the talk of ridiculous eligibility rules, it’s risky to have a line in there which reads ” land of my birth!”

    It’s being played at Murrayfield this weekend. (Not as the anthem, mind, but I think they’ve got half an eye on this!)

  25. Fraser on

    Did the Kelly Brown highland cathedral even get played in the end? I love it, the chorus is easy to remember and it could be really powerful when sung by the whole crowd at Murrayfield

  26. willie sneckie on

    But Glasgow …… is there a sting in the tail?
    This is Matawalu…
    Tackled by his opposite number, Jamie Elliot, on the wing there
    Ryan Grant takes the ball on
    The last play, can Glasgow get this possession back?
    They’re going to have to score from deep to fix this game
    Men over here ….. Alex Dunbar has a run
    Gets the support from Horne …. Horne shows the ball
    Is there some support here?
    This is Horne up to the 22
    H-o-r-n-e has s-c-o-r-e-d for Glasgow ….
    And that means Northampton are out of Europe
    What a t-r-y ….. and what a finish to this game!

    Well I never ….
    What an incredible finish
    and you can just see
    What this means
    to this Glasgow outfit
    Northampton out of Europe
    And this Glasgow Warriors Stadium is on its feet
    And what a fantastic try that was
    It started in their own half
    Fantastic hands down this right hand side
    Some great offloading and then from this moment on
    Well its a one man show, isn’t it ….. ?
    Stepping, bending, breaking out of tackles
    But he gets there by the narrowest margins
    But …. Wow ….. What a try …. What a result for Glasgow!

    Well they fought every inch of the way Pat Sanderson
    And they, y’know on merit, they perhaps really won the game 25-20
    With the conversion from Peter Horne to come
    and what a shock here at Scotstoun
    Glasgow with a first victory in the Heineken Cup
    Don’t tell anybody it doesn’t count
    Because Glasgow have knocked Northampton
    out of the opportunity of playing in the Amlin Challenge Cup
    and the potential opportunity to play in the Heineken Cup
    It has been a performance full of guts from Glasgow
    Despondency for Northampton.

    Lyrics by Hastings & Sanderson …….. who can put that to music?

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