Royal Arsenal : Foundations – Ta ra ra Boom de ay The Arsenal’s Won Today

Mark Andrews – @royalarsenalmra

As part of the ongoing research into our next book in the next few months we will be producing a series of historiographies and reviews of issues and books that have been written about Arsenal in their early years. Among the items covered will be:

  • What kit the club wore in their early days and whether it was ever donated from Nottingham Forest (Red and no)
  • Were they really the first footballers in Woolwich (no)
  • Who wrote the Royal Arsenal programmes that appear infrequently on ebay and auctions and are sold for astronomical sums today (The Surrey Poet)
  • Was there a drinking culture among the players (what do you think)
  • Did Danskin dislike Cricket (no)
  • What Charities did the club give their money to (Many local ones)

Among the books covered will be:

  • Roper
  • Official History
  • Joy
  • Glanville
  • Ollier
  • Grant and White (or as we call it “the reference book”) 

Currently we are working on a series of players biographies some of which will also be published on the blog over the coming months. Specifically we are looking for some more information or clarification about a list of players and characters we have been able to obtain some detail but would be improved with some more information preferably of a family nature, as was the case with Woolwich Arsenal players.

William Scott,  George Rutherford Stead,  John Plume,  H Simmons and Robert Grandison to name but a few.


However the first item to be covered was revealed earlier this week on twitter as:

13 Feb 1892: First Crowd inspired Arsenal song as 3,000 chant “Ta ra ra boom de ay, the Arsenal’s won today” as RAFC win 3-2 at Chatham .

As the crowd at Chatham was 10,000 and RAFC had 3,000 supporters there, our fans were pretty happy to be 3-0 up just after half time and by all accounts started singing this re-arranged music hall song as victory was all but secured. However, Chatham scored 2 late goals and the last few minutes were nail biting for the away day faithful, but they held out for a win. This is the earliest crowd derived chant mentioned in newspaper reports as being sung on the terraces about the Arsenal team, a full 121 years ago. Unfortunately the report only notes the first line of the chant and does not say if there were any more lines added.  

The origins of the song are from the Music Hall singer Lottie Collins and are worth a brief recounting – and is taken largely from the excellent period website  

In the USA Lottie first heard the song ‘Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay’ in a revue called Tuxedo in 1891. Her husband set about obtaining the rights for England. Once done, Lottie developed a suitably ‘burlesque’ dance to accompany it, which comprised energetic Can-Can style kicks that excited audiences by exposing stockings, sparkling suspenders and bare thighs. On stage she went crazy and the furore which “Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay” created was irresistible. 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 in mid dance. It would not be beyond the realms of imagination to suggest that while regularly singing this song the supporters performed their own but similar dance along to the chant.

This Victorian craze meant the song and Lottie, were in high demand. She performed it at theatres and music halls across London through 1891 and 1892, and at the peak of the mania around the routine, it is believed she performed it five times a night at various venues. Unfortunately all good things come to an end and 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 1st May 1910 of heart disease at the young age of 45.

In the Present day combining the chant with a dance routine in an all seater stadium may prove difficult, and it would be bit foolish to sing it if we aren’t winning, but if we go 3-0 up…

Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay

Lyrics to the original Music Hall Song:


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



 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

3 Replies to “Royal Arsenal : Foundations – Ta ra ra Boom de ay The Arsenal’s Won Today”

  1. I rather doubt that any more lines were added after the first line. If you think about many songs today they are little more than one liners.

    My favourite all time chant is sad to say, a rather rude one. I just remember it with great affection because it expressed the whole stadiums utter disgust with the administration of football. It came with Graham’s second championship, and it occupied virtually the whole of the final game of the season.

    “You can stick your ****ing two points up your ****”

    Sung over and over and over and over again for about two and a half hours.

    Hence I suspect the one line quoted in this stunning article was all that was needed.

  2. It’s a shame they couldn’t get her to come along to one of the games and become football’s first cheerleader.

  3. Yes, watched a game prior in the Wig and Gown in 1991 and then went to the match against Man U, who I think gave our chaps a guard of honour. Bit of a blur that day except for the “…2 points up your a*se”.

    One poignant part of the above story was the coincidental location of her sucicide attempt being in Highbury Crescent very near the current ground.

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