by Luke Voogt
The irony of writing the most famous AFL song in history after watching only a quarter of footy is not lost on English-born songwriter Mike Brady.
“I often laugh at the irony,” he told the Indy, fresh from performing Up There Cazaly for 100,014 people at the AFL grand final.
“Quite often when I’m smiling while I’m singing, I’m half laughing at the irony.”
Brady was amazed to see the amount of kids singing along at the game and the Grand Final parade the day before.
“They’ve embraced the song – I mean – it was 40 years ago when I wrote it and it’s still relevant,” he said.
“When I started singing it at the ground everyone sang along from the first line.”
After his seventh grand final in a row and more than a dozen in total, in front of TV audiences of millions, Brady was yet to tire of the gig.
“It’s a privilege,” he said.
“I was really happy on Saturday – it was really lovely to do it. It generates a lot of energy.”
But now Brady is en route to Geelong with fellow Australian singer Mike McClellan to show he is “more than just a sports songwriter”.
“I do a lot more than just write football songs and I think that’s why Mike invited me on the tour – I get typecast.”
Brady was born in London before his family moved over to Australia in the ’50s.
At age 14 he left school and joined his mates’ rock band The Phantoms, later MPD.
“Who I think are now all phantoms… I think they’re all dead,” he said.
The band opened for acts like The Beatles when they came to Australia, Brady said.
But eventually he found his way into TV commercials, singing jingles for household names like Arnott’s and SPC.
“I’ve done them for just about every airline and every brand of car that was on the market,” he said.
“I think my favourite was for the Navy – you’ll be wet, you’ll be homesick and frightened but you’ll be the pride of the fleet.”
Following the success of cricket anthem C’mon Aussie C’mon, Channel 7 approached Brady to sing a jingle promoting the then VFL.
“At the time I’d only ever been to one quarter of a (VFL) game – a brawl broke out so my girlfriend and I left,” he said,
“I knew a bit about it because I’d played at school. I was fascinated by it, by how obsessed people were with the game in one city.
“The amount of people that turned up to games was incredible.”
He expanded a jingle about high-flying 1920s St Kilda ruckman Roy Cazaly into the now-famous song that made him a household name.
Up There Cazaly reached number one in 1979, even in Sydney where “Aussie Rules was scorned”, Brady said, and sold 250,000 copies.
Brady looked forward to a “rare performance” at Geelong Arts Centre on 27 October with McClellan, who he met during his TV commercial career.
“I’ve got so many friends in Geelong and I hope they all come along,” he said.
Together the duo will play a mix of country and folk songs from their careers.
“If I get time I do some of the jingles just for a laugh,” Brady said.
“Mike is an extraordinary song-writer and a great guitarist. If they don’t like me they’ll like Mike instead. Hopefully they’ll like us both.”