Ashes Poetry - cricket

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David Fine, Ashes poet in residence in Australia 2006-7

England vs Australia.
Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne, Sydney 2006-2007

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Chance To Rhyme

A Kwik Guide How to Write A Half-Way Decent Ashes Song

The Barmy Army don't just support England at Test Matches. They play cricket - including thrashing their Aussie equivalents The Fanatics on the eve of the First Test at Brisbane - support Chance To Shine to enable more youngsters to join in and learn the game, charities, and now the opportunity of a lifetime ...

Do you want to win a trip of a lifetime for two, all flights and acccomodation thrown in with tickets for the last two Tests? Smack for details of this fantastic opportunity sponsored by Phones4U - closing date 30 November

Do Some Research

Before you start singing in the bath or scribbling on back of envelopes, look at the Barmy Harmonies on , and search under appropriate key words for Australian retorts to see how others do it.


Apart from those you sing in, there are four keys:-


WIT is what makes it stand out - like 'Let's Twist Again, Like Shahid Afridi' a wry reference to Shahid's illegal pitch scuffing in Faisalabad.

REPEATABILITY covers two things. Firstly, no offence but it must not be offensive. Rude, vulgar, if you want, but nothing racist, homophoebic or otherwise offensive. It'll be binned. Second, it has to be sung on the terraces. This means it needs a relatively simple and strong structure, if not words, with a degree of repeated lines or choruses so it's easy to remember without looking at a hymn sheet, and still join in if the memory fails – as it does with plenty of beer and sun

ACCESSIBILITY Repeatability means almost all terrace anthems are adaptations of earlier songs. You can try to write your own tune too but it's easier to use someone else's. This is because if people already know the tune, it's easier for them too - they just have to remember your words. It's easier all round. Choosing the tune is where the je ne sais quoi comes in. It needs to be memorable - from hymns to charts, catchy classics is the best catch-all. And it needs to be easily singable - a reworking of Mozart's Requiem Mass, still in Latin, however witty, is unlikely to succeed. As Gary Taylor, who wrote ‘Show Me The Way To Shane Warne's villa?', put it, the tune comes first. It might arise from a phrase which brings to mind the melody but you then need to fit the words to the music, not vice-versa.

PATHOS - could be a clincher. This is the tingle-factor. Anfield's 'Walk On.' Wales' 'Bread of Heaven' - it's respecting something other than your team, even the opposition....

Here’s one based on the modification of the lyrics of When This Lousy War is Over, from “Oh What A Lovely War”; Joan Littlewood, based on the original hymn 'What a Friend we have in Jesus'; Joseph Scriven.

When this Ashes Tour is Over

When this Ashes tour is over
No more cricketing for me,
I shall put my commentator’s mike on
To give expert summary on tv.

No more gloving Stevie Harmison,
No more edging Hoggie to the slips,
I shall kiss the gold of my green baggie,
God, I'll miss this whence it leaves my lips.

This has elements of all four keys - not much repeatability except the rhyme. Might be outside the singing range of the Barmy Army, still less the Fanatics (the Aussie’s equivalent) but the BA belt out Jerusalem…….

Other hints:-

• Make sure your words fit.
• Know the tune inside out - hum it, whistle it, eat it, and then check your words fit the tune. The tune is all, so again, don't try to scrunch or stretch the tune to the words.
• Too often people, including me, try to fit too many words in.
• Work with a pal, partner, pet or other animate object – most songs are written by pairs from Gilbert & Sullivan “I am the model of a Pom watching cricket in Australia…”
• Finally, sing it out loud before sending it anywhere else.

How else can you make sure it works?

Here are a three starters for ten

Hoggard, Hoggard, Hoggard,
Keep it up and swinging, Hoggard

to the tune of Rawhide (Remember The Blues Brothers Good Ol' Boys club scene?)

Flintoff, Flintoff, Freddie Flintoff
to the tune of Noel, (the carol, not Edmonds)

And for you Aussie Blokes

Grimmett, Mailey, O’Reilly, Ring and Benaud
Fine leggies all, outshone by Shane Warne

to the tune of Waltzing Matilda