On this day Arsenal played Chatham. There were estimated to be 10,000 in the ground with 3,000 of those being Royal Arsenal supporters.
And one can imagine that our fans were pretty happy to be 3-0 up just after half time and according to the newspapers started singing this re-arranged music hall song in the second half as victory was all but secured. However, Chatham scored two late goals and the last few minutes were nail biting for the Royal Arsenal fans, but the Reds held out for a win.
And thus this is the earliest crowd song mentioned in newspaper reports as being sung at a ground about the Arsenal team.
The song comes from the Music Hall singer Lottie Collins who sang ‘Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay’ in a revue called Tuxedo in 1891. Her husband obtained the rights for England, and Lottie developed a suitably ‘burlesque’ dance to accompany it, which comprised energetic Can-Can style kicks that excited audiences. It made her a star.
Local football reports later in 1892 refer to players high kicking to get the ball and comparing them to Lottie Collins’ performance. It would not be beyond the realms of imagination to suggest that while regularly singing this song the supporters performed their own dance along to the chant – when there was room.
Lottie performed it at theatres and music halls across London through 1891 and 1892, often several times a night. Tragically however her private life was less than happy culminating in 1898 when Lottie tried to commit suicide at 16 Highbury Crescent, close to the Highbury Station of the North London Railway. She eventually died on 1 May 1910 of heart disease aged 45.
Here is a performance and below are the original lyrics, in case you want to try a performance…
And for the sake of completeness, the lyrics…
A sweet tuxedo girl you see
A queen of swell society
Fond of fun as fond can be
When it’s on the strict Q.T.
I’m not too young, I’m not too old
Not too timid, not too bold
Just the kind you’d like to hold
Just the kind for sport I’m told
Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-re! (sung eight times)
I’m a blushing bud of innocence
Papa says at big expense
Old maids say I have no sense
Boys declare, I’m just immense
Before my song I do conclude
I want it strictly understood
Though fond of fun, I’m never rude
Though not too bad I’m not too good
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