The Collingwood theme song had its origins in the United States of America during the Spanish-American War of 1898, when it was written by Will D. Cobb and Paul Barnes. Its popularity grew during the Boer War in South Africa, and it was Collingwood player Tom Nelson (3 games) who used the music as the basis for Good Old Collingwood Forever in 1906.
Good old Collingwood forever,
They know how to play the game.
Side by side we stick together,
To uphold the Magpies name.
See the barrackers a shouting,
As all barrackers should.
Oh, the premiership's a cakewalk,
For the good old Collingwood.
The relevant lyrics adapted from Goodbye Dolly Gray are as follows:
Goodbye Dolly I must leave you,
Though it breaks my heart to go.
Something tells me I am needed,
At the front to fight the foe.
See – the boys in blue are marching,
And I can no longer stay.
Hark – I hear the bugle calling,
Goodbye Dolly Gray.
A ‘cakewalk’ is a dance that arose from a Black American contest in graceful walking. The winner’s prize was a cake. The term has been controversial during the post 1958 era, and its line was in fact changed to “There is just one team we favour” in 1983. It soon returned to its former guise.
An unofficial addition to the theme song is the line ‘Cor Blimey’, which has been sung by the players after the fourth line of the theme song since the 1920s, according to an interview with Collingwood legend Harry Collier in the 1996 documentary 100 Years of Australian Football. It is not included in the official recording.
When the Williamstown Football Club was Collingwood’s VFL affiliate from 2001-2007, their theme song was adapted to match Good Old Collingwood Forever before changing again when the alliance ended.
Several lines in the Collingwood theme song have been adapted in other club contexts, and regularly in newspaper headlines when the Magpies triumph.
Three time Copeland Trophy winner Gavin Brown’s 1997 autobiography was titled Collingwood Forever. The Michael Roberts edited The Barrackers Are Shouting (2006) is a collection of short stories by Collingwood supporters. Collingwood is the only club to make reference to its supporters in its theme song.
In 2009, journalist Peter Ryan wrote an insider's look at Collingwood titled Side By Side. Side By Side has also been the consistent theme of Collingwood's membership campaign since 2009, and represents one of the club's five key values.
Michael Gleeson’s (2010) Cakewalk, The inside story of Collingwood’s 1990 Premiership, tells the story of the breaking of the 32-year premiership drought. Ironically, the 1990 flag was, in fact, a cakewalk (the Magpies won by 48 points).