If there’s a word screamed more than any other by devoted Australia Rules Football fans, it’s the one that describes that egg-shaped bubble of leather they’re kicking around on the paddock. Slow and shoddy disposals are greeted with a chorus of opposition fans baying for a ‘holding the ball’ call from the umpire.
It could be a song. And now it is, Westy & The Benchwarmers, footy-fanatics from the Great Southern Region of WA, have brought that clarion call in a tune appropriately entitled Holding The Ball. Well, what else?
“If you go to the football how many times do you hear, ‘holding the ball!’ or ‘Ball’?,” singer/guitarist Adam Western observes. “It pretty much sums up the spectator experience, in one term.”
It’s a term for the ages, any footy fan would agree, and one which evolved from typical weekend football experience… with added beer and rock’n’roll.
“We were sitting down watching some country footy one afternoon and the umpires were cheating, as usual,” says Western, still lightly seething. “So that evening we went down to the shed - as we do on a Saturday night - and got together and started having a few cold ones and yelling out the things we were hearing at the footy that day. One of them was ‘haven’t ya got a head, umpire?’, which didn’t make the song, unfortunately, but that’s the truth.”
From playing the song at parties the band discovered that it resonated with footy-lovers and a raw recording was made and streamed online, gaining some airplay around the country. Sport FM used it as their brekky theme for a time and the Eagles contacted Western requesting permission to play it on their podcast last year. As an inauguration Freo supporter/member, however, he's not happy that The Dockers didn't respond to his email.
“They didn't even reply to my emails,” he says. “I would have been happy with an email telling me to piss off!”
Spurred on by the interest in their humble recording, Westy & The Benchwarmers returned to the studio and have unleashed a new version of Holding The Ball – a Coach’s Pick, if you will – into the football world and beyond. And it’s just in time for the Western Derby!
The band call it ‘Dad Rock’, but if you have a hankering for some garage rock’n’roll (think Cosmic Psychos or The Chats) then this song’s for you, no matter what your parental status.
Australia, it’s time for a new Aussie Rules anthem. Holding The Ball is as footy as ruck.
Hear Holding The Ball now
Available for download/streaming now via iTunes, Spotify, Amazon and all usual outlets from Friday, April 12.