Did You Know...

Robert Collier (C'1894), the author of the Georgetown alma mater, died at the age of 44 in 1918 following complications from kidney failure. His estate from the popular Collier's Weekly magazine, estimated at $5 million, returned less than $2,200 to his widow due to losses suffered by his publishing company during World War I.

History & Tradition: Men Of Harlech

The song behind the song

Reprinted from the Third Rail Blog, August 2009:

The college football tradition of entering the stadium doesn't have the same thrill at Multi-Sport Field: no band playing "Rocky Top", no Miami-style hurricane mist. But across the pages at the football board, there was a discussion about having the football team build up some excitement at the start of the game, something popular at I-A schools but largely ignored at the bottom of the Patriot League.

One post suggested an Braveheart-style entrance like they do at the College of Wooster, where a pipe band leads the Division III Scots onto the field. Another poster suggested the scene from the 1964 movie "Zulu", where the outmanned British garrison, about to face a slaughter from 20,000 proud warriors, suddenly breaks out in singing the Welsh battle song, Men of Harlech. (Was someone making an inference between the Hoyas' chances and that of the garrison?)

OK, so not many Hoyas got the clever sub-reference. Here's a video where the fans of Cardiff's soccer team celebrate following its FA Cup semifinal win in 2008. You may not know the words, but the tune ought to be familiar:

Men of Harlech stop your dreaming
Can't you see their spear points gleaming
See their warrior's pennants streaming
To this battle field

Men of Harlech stand ye steady
It cannot be ever said ye
For the battle were not ready
Welshmen never yield

Form the hills rebounding
Let this war cry sounding
Summon all at Cambria's call
The mighty force surrounding

Men of Harlech onto glory
This shall ever be your story
Keep these fighting words before ye
Welshmen will not yield

The song, commemorating the mighty siege of Harlech Castle from 1461 to 1468, was the musical backdrop to Robert Collier's Sons of Georgetown (1894). Most students of the era knew the musical tie-in, today, almost no one would. (If the team marched onto the field singing this song a cappella, I would guess at least one Georgetown fan would ask if they were referring to "Men of Harbin.")

The song is one of courage and camaraderie. In sports, that's an unseen and often misunderstood benefit of the athletics experience. In sports, as in life, we learn more from one another than simply from a play book or a chalk-talk; it is the elements of character and leadership that athletics, the "battlefields of friendly strife", teach. For a Georgetown team where players don't go on to the NFL, where winning is still a goal and not an expectation, and where the four year experience of football is a significant personal commitment most students and/or fans will not soon realize, the need to dedicate oneself to the task at hand is not to be underemphasized.

So, yes, maybe the team does need a better entrance onto the unnamed Multi-Sport Field every game. Maybe they should gather at the hill above the new Hariri Hall, the crown jewel of the MSB, and find a means to run down the hill with great abandon (assuming the fencing is taken care of, of course.) Maybe the Georgetown band, not prone to simple marching, should otherwise greet them on the field with the fight song as they run down the field. Or maybe it's as simple as playing the old Georgetown alma mater, it's own Men of Harlech, before the start of play and encourage the crowd to sing it loudly as a call to action, not a post-game dirge of defeat. Use the beginning of the game to set a course of unity, of Georgetown, of victory, and have fun doing so.

Collier put it best:

"Where Potomac's tide is streaming
From her spires and steeples beaming.
See the grand old banner gleaming
Georgetown's Blue and Gray..."