Do Hunslet have the oldest song in rugby league?

Hunslet in action against Batley Bulldogs.Hunslet in action against Batley Bulldogs.
Hunslet in action against Batley Bulldogs. | JPIMedia Resell
think of traditional rugby league club anthems and Hull’s Old Faithful and St Helens’ When the Saints Go Marching In immediately spring to mind.

Hull KR’s When The Red, Red Robin is another and that was originally written in 1926.

Leeds Rhinos, of course, have adopted Leeds United’s Marching On Together which, released in 1972, is officially known as Leeds! Leeds! Leeds!

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However, it appears none of these can lay claim to being the oldest club song in the sport.

Hunslet believe they hold that title with We’ve Swept the Seas before Boys being sung in moments of triumph and adversity for nearly 130 years.

“Legend has it that it was first sung in homage to Hunslet’s players on the evening of Saturday April 23rd 1892,” explained the south Leeds club’s press officer Phil Hodgson.

“The Parksiders had beaten Leeds 21-0 in the Yorkshire Cup Final – three years before both clubs, and 20 others, switched from rugby union to form the Northern Union.

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“While waiting for their heroes to arrive with the trophy at their base at the Cemetery Tavern – now the Parnaby Tavern – on Woodhouse Hill, the large crowd treated itself to renditions of popular songs of the age.

“It’s said that one supporter, a former sailor, had served in the Crimean War where he learned a Russian war song called We’ve Swept the Seas before Boys.

“By the time the team arrived, the throng was in full voice. The song continued to be a rousing rally call when the club won All Four Cups in 1907-08, Challenge Cup and Championship successes in the 1930s and, indeed, to the present day.

“Other clubs’ songs are unlikely to date back so far. A possible contender is St Helens’ When the Saints Go Marching In, but that appears to have been written in the early 1900s.”

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However, Huddersfield’s Hurrah for the Claret and Gold was written in 1890 to celebrate the Yorkshire Cup Final victory over Wakefield on April 5 that year.

It could, then, be the oldest although, admittedly, it is not still sung by the club’s current fans.

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