Earliest Swansea football song - from 1913 - unearthed in library

“It’s in! We grin! We make an awful din!” A song written in 1913 for Swansea football fans to sing on the terraces has been rediscovered in Swansea Library, as part of a Heritage Lottery Fund research project to mark the club’s hundredth anniversary this year. It is the first recorded Swansea football song.

The words to the song, called “The Swans’ War Song”, are in an issue of the “World of Sport”, published in Swansea in February 1913.  It was found by Gwilym Games, local studies librarian at Swansea Central Library, after he was alerted to its presence by Dr Martin Johnes, the Swansea University sports historian.

Hear the tune for the song- and an interview with Swansea University's Phil Bethell - on BBC Radio Wales

Read the BBC Online article, with a picture of the long-lost lyrics.

Phil Bethell is from the Swans 100 project, based at Swansea University.  He said:
“The tune is that of a popular music hall song, “Here Comes the Chocolate Major”.  We don’t know if it was ever sung by the fans at the time, but we’re pretty sure that it’s the earliest specially-written Swansea Town song.   

When you read the lyrics, it’s hard to imagine it catching on today! The words are clearly of their time.  The idea of a War Song sounds quite aggressive, and urging travelling fans to make a loud nuisance of themselves on the train 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 - maybe a reason why it didn't catch on with the Swansea footballing public!”

Gwilym Games from Swansea Library, who found the song, has identified the players mentioned:

“The song lines up the Swansea stars of the day. They include the first ever Swansea Captain, Jack “Nick” Nicholas; the Scottish centre half, “Jock” Hamilton; John Coleman, the inside forward who scored the Swans’ second ever hat-trick against Luton in February 1913; and Jimmy “Swarby” Swarbrick, the lightning-fast left winger.

“Bally” is Billy Ball, the famous high-scoring Swansea forward celebrated in an early chant “Give it to Bally!” He was the man who, in Swansea’s initial League match in September 1912, against Cardiff, scored the Swans’ first ever League goal.

 "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—

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......”

Attention Swansea City fans: we don’t expect you to learn the War Song, but there’s still time for you to contribute to the archive – fill in the on-line questionnaire for starters, and then see what else you might be able to do to help.

Look on www.swans100.org.uk