There’s nothing quite like the sound of a packed stadium engaged in a deafening singalong during a sporting event to lift the collective spirits. We’ve compiled a list of sport-related songs – some written specifically for this purpose, others having accidentally become synonymous with sporting endeavour for whatever reason – that are guaranteed to get you all fired up and motivated to get sporty (or just cheer from the sidelines – no judgement here).

Up There Cazaly – The Two-Man Band  

“Me, I like football…” – Mike Brady’s iconic song, which was originally written to promote Channel Seven’s Victorian Football League (VFL) coverage, has since become synonymous with Aussie Rules. And, let’s face it, there’s no greater Grand Final atmosphere enhancer than a voracious crowd singalong, altogether now:

“Up there Cazaly/ In there and fight/ Up there and at ‘em/ Show ‘em your might/ Up there Cazaly/ Don’t let ‘em in/ Fly like an angel/ You’re out there to win…”

Kram from Spiderbait even went so far as to label Up There Cazaly “the Bohemian Rhapsody of footy songs”.

The song’s titular figure, Roy Cazaly – a short king known for his gravity-defying marks – was involved with many footy clubs in his time. Between 1909 and 1943, he played for St Kilda and South Melbourne, was associated with Carlton and also coached Hawthorn. It was Fred ‘Skeeter’ Fleiter who coined, “Up there, Cazaly!” since he would holler out this phrase whenever his South Melbourne teammate flew for the ball.

Fun fact: Up There Cazaly held the record for highest-selling Australian single ever until Joe Dolce’s Shaddap You Face stole its unit-shifting crown in February, 1981.

Did you know? In 1991, Collingwood legend/sports journalist Lou Richards released a hip-hop version of this song, titled Up There Cazaly ‘91, as Louie The Lip.  

(Simply) The Best – Jimmy Barnes & Tina Turner

This belter springs to mind due to its ongoing association with the National Rugby League (NRL). Widely regarded as Tina’s signature song, The Best was released in 1989 and also featured in her Pepsi. Then, in 1992, Tina was flown to Australia to record a new duet version with Barnsey, specifically for this sporting purpose.    

During a TV interview promoting the debut album by The Barnestormers – a supergroup quintet composed of Barnesy (vocals), The Living End’s Chris Cheney (guitar), Stray Cats’ Slim Jim Phantom (drums), producer Kevin “Caveman” Shirley (bass) and the one and only Jools Holland (piano) – earlier this year, Barnes hilariously admitted that although the NRL paid him “a fortune” to record this duet with Tina, he would’ve done “for nothing”. 

Barnsey also had this to say of recording with the late legend: “It was one of the most exciting moments and highlights of my career to go and sing with Tina. I’d been a fan since River Deep – Mountain High… She was just phenomenal. The minute she opened her mouth she was warm, she was gracious, she was nurturing. I was terrified… They were making the film clip, and the director said, ‘We’re just gonna pan across and you and Tina will be dancing.’ And anybody who’s seen me dance, I dance like an elephant tied to a tree. And Tina must’ve seen the panicked look on my face, ‘cause she leaned over quietly and whispered, ‘Stand still, honey, and I’ll make you look good’ [laughs]. And she almost did!” 

Did you know? The Best was first offered to Paul Young, who passed on this motivational song. So the first artist to record The Best, two years before Tina, was actually Bonnie Tyler. “[Tina] had a hit with it all over the world, but she only gave me confidence back about my choice in material,” Bonnie has since reflected. “And I have to be honest, she did it much better than I did.”

Howzat – Sherbet

Of how Sherbet decided upon this cricketing catch cry as an album, and song, title, keyboardist Garth Porter revealed during an interview: “We were mulling over what we were going to do on our next album, and because cricket was so much on our minds someone suggested Howzat as a title.” So Porter and bassist Tony Mitchell sat down to write a song to match this title and, voila! The sneaky bassline – an undisputed highlight of this iconic Sherbet song – came first. Then Porter dreamed up the brilliant, cricket-referencing, double-entendre lyrical phrase, “I caught you out,” and the rest is history! 

In retrospect, Porter reckons Howzat’s lyrics are “appalling” (harsh, much?), going so far as to say, “When I read them in black-and-white, I think, ‘Oh my God, a six-year-old could have written that’.” Doesn’t matter, mate – the song is an absolute classic and went on to top the charts in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Israel. Howzat is still regularly played at cricket matches and during TV broadcasts.   

Did you know? During the ‘70s, Sherbet lugged a cricket kit around with them on tour.

Gonna Fly Now (aka Theme From Rocky) – Bill Conti

As soon as you wrap your ears around this song’s arresting opening trumpet fanfare, do you feel like jogging up the nearest flight of stairs? Just us? Okay, then. At the very least – if you’ve seen Rocky, the ultimate underdog movie – Sylvester Stallone’s training montage will immediately enter your brainbox: one-handed pushups, sweat drips landing on boxing ring flooring, Rocky Balboa punching giant frozen-beef slabs and then, finally, running up the 72 steps leading up to Philadelphia’s Museum Of Art before punching the sky with both hands in a triumphant gesture. 

Gonna Fly Now (aka Theme From Rocky) – “Getting strong noooooow/ Won’t be long noooooow” – is often played at sporting events all around the globe and has also been officially adopted by the Philadelphia Eagles who use it to mark the opening kickoff of every home game. You’ve gotta admit it’s a good workout song in general, too, so add it to that playlist stat.      

Fun fact: Sly Stallone’s bro Frank originally pitched a theme song for Rocky, which unfortunately didn’t make the grade. Although it just has to be said that we totally rate Far From Over: the song Frank penned for another Sly-directed film, Staying Alive (the sequel to Saturday Night Fever, which also starred John Travolta). 

Dreadlock Holiday – 10cc 

This ska-influenced 1978 song is about a white bloke holidaying in Jamaica and the various characters he crosses paths with/narrowly avoids getting ripped off by. Dreadlock Holiday’s co-writers Graham Gouldman and Eric Stewart had travelled to Jamaica and Barbados for summer hols, respectively, and the lyrical tales collated herein relate to specific experiences – some fact, some fiction.  

“I was walkin’ down the street, concentratin’ on truckin’ right…” 

Gouldman, 10cc’s co-lead singer/bassist, has said, “The song is about someone trying to emulate West Indian cool. Trying to be like them, but failing miserably,” which is depicted, literally, at the beginning of the film clip.

“I don’t like cricket (Oh no!)/ I love it…” – the catchy, sport-related chorus section was inspired by an actual convo. When asked whether he liked cricket, a Jamaican staff member at the hotel where Gouldman was staying surprised him by replying in the negative, before pausing and then cheekily adding, “I love it”. Gouldman immediately recognised their exchange would make an appealing lyrical twist. 

“Well he looked down at my silver chain/ He said, ‘I’ll give you one dollar’/ I said, ‘You’ve got to be jokin’, man. It was a present from me mother’…” – for this bit, Stewart used a little poetic licence to embroider an experience he had while holidaying in Barbados with Justin Hayward (The Moody Blues). The story goes that Hayward was on a parasailing raft in the middle of the ocean waiting for the speedboat towing Stewart to return when a Jamaican guy offered to give him a dollar for his silver chain. According to Hayward, said Jamaican guy retorted, “If this was Jamaica, I would cut your hand off for that.”  Fun fact: According to Gouldman, Dreadlock Holiday’s title prevented it from being added to rotation on reggae-phobic U.S. radio stations, which – in turn – stalled the song’s Stateside chart performance.