A Song for the Swans: the first “War Song” from 1913

A recent discovery in the Swansea Library has revealed the first specially-written song for supporters to sing in praise of the Swans. The lyrics are contained in a magazine called The World of Sport, only one copy of which is known to survive (follow link to The World of Sport 1913)

The song would proabably not catch on now (if it ever did), as the lyrics are clearly of their time. We also do not now the tune – it is supposed to be sung to the tune of “The Chocolate Major”, but no trace of this has yet been found during our researches. There are a couple of verses and a chorus as follows:

” Swans ” War Song.

 (Tune -“THE CHOCOLATE MAJOR)

 Look out here comes a crowd of jolly fellows all looking gay

Bent on a visit to the football field to watch two teams play

Which side they favour you will quickly know when both lots turn out,

For when ” Nick ” or Hamilton lead their boys upon the field

             You’ll hear them loudly shout—

 

Chorus

We are the Swans’ supporters, we are the village boys,

When our team is playing, hear us all hurrahing,

Shouting, Coleman, now then, SHOOT for goal, man,

Now, Bally, pass it to Swarby, Jimmy don’t, shoot too

       far;

IT’S IN ! (ha! ha!) we grin (ha! ha!) we make an

awful din as we all shout hurrah!

If we should travel by excursion when our boys play away,

Our antics create much diversion, for you’ll hear people say :

Who are those noisy lot of bounders who command all the train ?

The word goes round that they don’t know who we are,

      Then we all sing this refrain……

The idea of  a War Song sounds quite aggressive, and the urging of travelling fans to make a loud nuisance of themselves on the train – indeed, to “own” the train in modern parlance – is not one we want to encourage nowadays! The idea was simply to have a team song. Some Universities in the US still have what they call Fight Songs for their sports teams.  The origin in this country lies more perhaps in public schools and the forging of a school identity – maybe a reason why it didn’t catch on with the Swansea footballing public!

The names that appear in the song are those of the players – already perhaps local heroes, even in the first season of professional football in the town. The team went on to win the Welsh League and Welsh Cup: did the War Song help them on their way to those triumphs? 

The original text of the Swans War Song, 1913 (courtesy Swansea Library)

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