The Hawthorn Football Club song, ‘We’re a Happy Team at Hawthorn’, recorded in April 1972 by The Fable Singers, is sometimes credited to Chic Lander on sites associated with the club, including Wikipedia pages. In fact, it was Jack O’Hagan who wrote the lyrics in 1956. The Australian Performing Rights Association’s (APRA’s) records prove this.
Jack often told the story of how it came about himself.
At the time, Jack was Australia’s most famous songwriter, with classic hits like ‘Along the Road to Gundagai’ and ‘Where the Dog Sits on the Tuckerbox’ under his belt, and was well known for his hero songs ‘Our Don Bradman’, ‘Kingsford Smith’, ‘Lone Girl Flyer’ (Amy Johnson) and ‘Our Marjorie’ (Marjorie Jackson, the Lithgow Flash).
The club had a competition for a song, which yielded poor results. Apparently, in desperation, Chic Lander – Hawthorn Football Club’s lawyer, senior partner with the firm Lander & Rogers, one-time president of the Law Institute and life member of the Hawks footy club – commissioned Jack to write the song.
Jack, an experienced songwriter with around 200 published songs, knew he had to use a tune everybody could remember for it to take off. He used George M. Cohan’s ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’, from the 1904 Broadway musical Little Johnny Jones. The story goes that American jockey Jones turned down a bribe to lose the English Derby on Yankee Doodle but lost anyway, ruining his reputation. The story was one of redemption.
Jack’s lyrics are:
We're a happy team at Hawthorn
We're the Mighty Fighting Hawks.
We love our Club, and we play to win,
Riding the bumps with a grin (at Hawthorn).
Come what may, you'll find us striving
Team work is the thing that talks,
One for all and all for one, is the way we play at Hawthorn.
We are the Mighty Fighting Hawks.
True to form, Jack was a generous man. Hawthorn was not well-funded like other teams, so he donated the 25 guineas fee for the job to the players’ end-of-season trip fund.
Maybe this uplifting song with its emphasis on passion – we love our Club, and we play to win; its larrikin edge – riding the bumps with a grin; and teamwork – one for all and all for one boosted morale, because the very next year, the club made their first semi-final appearance against Carlton, but lost the preliminary final to Melbourne.
The Hawks have been Premiers many times since. Jack never expected the club song would be recorded – it was really written for the crowd on the ground. It got a great workout over the 2015 Grand Final weekend – their third premiership in a row.