On Twitter the other day, the Saskatchewan Roughriders official account appeared to lightly take offence at the suggestion that the Tampa Bay Lightning were using ‘Bring ‘Em Out’ as the music they might see as their theme.
At this point I’m not sure if they’re just messing around but the song has gotten a lot of attention this off-season, particularly when receiver (and occasional defensive back) Duron Carter seemed to indicate he wanted a different song. Now the Riders are raising even non-serious eyebrows at the potential someone else might want it? Please.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders over the last few decades have made quite a thing out of their songs. Any fan worth his or her salt can go through the full lyrics of Green Is The Colour. But more should know that the song has never been theirs, and they aren’t even the first Canadian ‘football’ team to use the song.
The song was originally ‘Blue Is The Colour’ by Chelsea Football Club in London, UK, with much the same lyrical content, and it dates back to the early 1970s. Members of the team at the time sang in the chorus and they still use it for big matches over 40 years later.
The song, despite tainted by being used in a Margaret Thatcher election campaign, has retained popularity with a fan base that probably doesn’t have the faintest idea it’s been co-opted by a Canadian gridiron squad.
The proper footy song then moved across the pond and all the way to the west coast where the Vanvouver Whitecaps used it for White Is The Colour, and continue to do so as the club has moved into Major League Soccer. The Proclaimers didn’t have to walk 500 miles and then walk 500 more to hear it, as they recorded the version heard before every Whitecaps home game.
Then we have ‘On Roughriders’, a song we all should know from hearing it a couple of times every pre-game. That song is, as most of us should know by now, also not originally our own. It borrows heavily from the University of Wisconsin fight song, On Wisconsin. Charging right through the line and scoring a touchdown every time isn’t just an aim of players wearing green and white in Saskatchewan.
The Last Saskatchewan Pirate that we hear every game? Written by Canadian comedy group the Arrogant Worms (and covered by Captain Tractor), whose members are undoubtedly aware of the football team in the province, the song gives a heave-ho and a high-ho to many Saskatchewan landmarks but it wasn’t particularly written with football in mind.
This isn’t anything against the current Roughriders game-day experience. They now play in a stadium that’s the envy of the league and have a whole lot of fans who have a whole lot of opinions on what song should be playing when the team comes out onto the filed.
There aren’t many teams that have the rich tradition of slightly borrowed songs that the Saskatchewan Roughriders possess in their canon. They’re songs that are enjoyed by young and old, even if they’ve had a slightly different parentage than what we may have believed growing up.
And besides, we’ll always have the Riders’ current medley of songs, like Jason Plumb’s Paint the World Green, or the much older Rider Pride to fully call our own. And no team in Canadian professional sports will have the audacity of having a gopher as the mascot. And Gainer in the sunroof driving around the track with the srien to ‘Green Is The Colour’ is close to ‘peak Saskatchewan.’