Wurzels star delighted that Bristol Bears choose their song as victory anthem

Tommy Banner from the Wurzels is delighted that Bristol Bears have adopted their song as an unofficial anthem. Credit: PA

It may not be one of The Wurzels' most famous numbers but the song 'The Blackbird' has had quite an airing in the West Country this weekend. It was released in 1976 as the B-side to the group's number one hit 'Combine Harvester' but now has new fame as the Bristol Bears victory song.

The team performed the song twice after beating Toulon to claim rugby's European Challenge Cup in France on Friday 16 October.

The team sang it on the podium and then gave a repeat performance with rugby club chairman Chris Booy:

Blackbird has been sung by the Wurzels and their fans for nearly forty five years - and the band is chuffed it is being given some new attention.

Tommy Banner from the Wurzels says "It's wonderful. The Blackbird song is virtually our anthem because we open every single show with 'Where be that blackbird to?' and to hear them singing it is absolutely brilliant. I think they do it better than we do it."

The tradition started from a Christmas karaoke rendition in 2018 by Bears lock Joe Joyce and coach Pat Lam's desire for the squad to have a team song.

Joe Joyce says, "He clocked on that it's a bit of a West Country thing then Pat got right behind it, making sure everyone learnt it. Luckily we're winning a lot so we're singing it a lot!"

The side has a number of overseas players, including Fijian international Semi Radrada, who must have found it quite hard to get his heads round the lyrics and strong West Country accents, but Joe Joyce and Andy Uren are Bristolians so happy to advise.

If anyone wants to learn the full lyrics of the song, they can be found here.

The Wurzels - (l-r) Tommy Banner, Pete Budd, David Wintour and John Morgan - back in 2001. Credit: PA

The Wurzels hope Covid restrictions will eventually ease so they can fulfil a promise to visit the Bears and give them some extra singing tips - although Tommy Banner himself hails from Scotland.

Tommy says, "Not that I'm a very good coach at teaching them West Country words because I've been over fifty years a Wurzel and I'm still not able to speak West Country! But I'll do my best".

With the Bristol Bears doing so well, expect to hear the song a lot more in future.

Bristol Bears certainly had something to sing about. Credit: PA


Bristol Bears were not the only ones singing Blackbird this weekend. Bristol Bears Women also took up the chant after their 24-22 victory over Exeter Chiefs in the Premier 15s at Sandy Park on Sunday 18 October.

And rugby is not the only West Country sport to embrace the Wurzels anthem. The song - along with 'One for the Bristol City' and 'Drink up thy Zider' and others - is often sung at Bristol City matches.

'Blackbird' is also a victory song for the Cider Makers themselves, Somerset County Cricket Club. Here they are performing the number when they beat Hampshire to win the Royal London One Day Cup in 2019.

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