The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra has partnered with the Australian Football League (AFL) in a unique musical tribute, the ‘AFL Club Anthem Project’ to celebrate the return of the 2020 Toyota AFL Premiership Season.

During the COVID-19 lockdown period, MSO musicians came together to record a refrain of their beloved football club’s classic anthem on their centuries-old instruments.

Many of the traditional club songs date back further than the AFL itself, with the oldest –Brisbane’s use of the French revolutionary anthem La Marseillaise from 1792 and Geelong’s use of The Toreador Song from composer George Bizet’s famous opera Carmen, written in 1875.  Two of the AFL’s powerhouse clubs use classic tunes from the great American songbook; Collingwood’s Goodbye Dolly Gray from 1897 and Richmond’s Row, Row, Row from 1912.  

In more recent years the AFL has introduced modern anthems such as last years’ crowd favourite There’s a Big, Big Sound for the GSW GIANTS, which reached popularity in the lead up to the 2019 Toyota AFL Grand Final.

MSO Conductor Benjamin Northey said that music and footy have always been the best of mates, with a love for providing world-class entertainment at the forefront of both organisations.

You would be amazed how many musicians and staff in the MSO are passionate footy fans,” said Maestro Northey.

“These ‘socially-distanced’ MSO versions were a lot of fun to record while also speaking to the time we are all going through. We love seeing our team celebrate with a rousing rendition of the club song after a game.  Just like the AFL, we can’t wait to get back to doing what we do best for the people of Melbourne again when it’s safe for crowds to return,’’ said Maestro Northey.

The AFL and MSO are excited to collaborate in this uplifting cross-cultural online project where music and football unite.

Watch the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s AFL Club Anthem Project via MSO and AFL’s channels: or