Herbert Howard & The Maher Cup Song

The Maher Cup inspired many stories, poems and at least one published song, The Maher Cup : March Song, written by W.H. Howard of Tumut and Junee many years ago.

Choir of the Southern Cross, Young.

Choir of the Southern Cross, Young.

The song has recently been recorded by the Choir of the Southern Cross on 10 November 2013 at the Young Town Hall. Listen to it.

My sincere thanks to the Young Regional School of Music for permitting me to make the recording available here.

Down in Group 9 where the game’s fine
There’s a cup without a top that tops the lot
It’s the Maher Cup and it’s the star cup
tho’ they’re calling it “The Old Tin Pot”.
For she doesn’t wear a lid. The old girl never did.
As she sits among the crowd each Saturday.
Where a man may drop his quid into the cup without a lid.

For the Maher Cup is the star cup
Old pot without a top she tops the lot
Yes the Maher Cup she is the star cup
and it’s her name that fans the game red hot

and as the ball is kicked and passed the rival teams play fast
in a fashion that’s not easily forgot.
How she lifts the boys to fame
In this grand and glorious game
When playing for “the Old Tin Pot”, Good shot!

Keep it clean boys, make it seen boys
that you always play the game not the man
Don’t play rough boys, tho’ it is tough boys
Just play Rugby League as best you can.
As we throw the ball about the crowds will cheer and shout
See they play to win, Hoop-Ray the score goes up.
Golly what fascinating play, heavens the boys are great today
All out to win the battle and the cup

For the Maher Cup she is the star cup
In first grade Rugby League make her top the lot
Yes the Maher Cup she is the star cup
and it’s her name that fans the game red hot

and as the ball is kicked and passed the rival teams play fast
in a fashion that’s not easily forgot
And although it’s hard to win
Still we can take it under the chin
When playing for “the Old Tim Pot”, Good shot!

Yes the Maher Cup is the star cup
For frills spills and thrills she tops the lot
Yes the Maher Cup she is the star cup
and it’s her name that fans the game red hot

and as the ball is kicked and passed the rival teams play fast
in a fashion that’s not easily forgot
Gives a man a dizzy whirl, dizzier than the dizziest girl
When [insert your team] wins  “the Old Tim Pot”, Good shot!

Source: National Library of AustraliaThe conventional wisdom seems to be that this tune was penned back in 1927.  I disagree.

William Herbert Howard, was known as Herbert or Herb.  He spent his whole life in Maher Cup country, but he was not your regular Maher Cup ‘type’.  Born at Tumut in 1890 we was one of eight children born to  Isabella (Regent) and William Henry Howard.  They were from the district’s pioneering families. Grandfather George Howard established a very successful footwear retail and repair business in Russell Street.  Brother Edgar Mansfield Howard was an alderman and the proprieter of the Tumut Times and Adelong Argus.

howard1

Photo courtesy of Junee Musuem

The 1920 photo below of  Junee Rovers football team includes Herb Howard – in a bow tie.

By 1923 Herbert Howard had moved to Junee with Tumut friend Roy Elphick. There W.H. Howard spent the next thirty years, mostly working as an accounts clerk in the office of J.S. Taylor’s big Broadway Store.  Brother E. Mansfield Howard and a relative, the Reverend Harold Howard, also moved to Junee.

Herbert was a confirmed bachelor with a love for music – being the organist and an office holder at St. Luke’s Church of England, the town’s bandmaster, dance band leader, and church choir conductor. For many years he would take the Junee choir to his home town for the Tumut Eistedfford. They often won.

J.S. Taylor's staff in 1936.  Herb Howard 4th at back from left.

J.S. Taylor’s staff in 1936. Herb Howard 5th from left in back row.

In 1936 his Back to Junee song became the centrepiece of the town’s
centenary celebrations. He wrote other music and lyrics.  In 1948 he put to the mayor of Junee the proposition that the town could have a choir of up to 1000 voices.

Luck came his way in 1952 when he won a considerable sum in a lottery.  He soon after retired back to Tumut.  He may have penned more songs there, including, I believe in 1953, The Maher Cup Song. W.H.Howard died at Tumut in 1961.

His songs included:

The Australian pre-occupation with sport is often criticised for relegating the arts to the background in country towns.  It seems that in the Junee of William Herbert Howard they were both comfortably accommodated.

The reasons I believe the Maher Cup Song was written in the 1950s are:

  • Copyright was applied for in 1953
  • The lyrics refer to games being played on Saturday.  Up until 1946 the Maher Cup was played on Wednesdays.
  • I can find no contemporary reference to the Maher Cup Song prior to 1954

PS. Another song that evokes memories of the Maher Cup is You’ve Got To Be A Football Hero, which introduced 2LF’s Rugby League show that I remember on Saturday mornings.

Below  is a You Tube video uploaded by Nick Ball.  The images are from British association football but are still evocative and entertaining.

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