• Sussex by the Sea

    Most Albion fans know Sussex by the Sea only as a single chorus. It’s actually a military marching song with five verses, though hardly anyone knows very much of the real words. You’ll find them all here, along with something of our anthem’s history.

    Who wrote it, and when?

    Sussex by the Sea is the one football song that's totally unique to the Albion. First published in 1907, it was composed by William Ward-Higgs, a Lancashire-born solicitor who lived for six years in South Bersted, near Bognor Regis. Written to celebrate his sister-in-law's wedding to a captain of the Royal Sussex Regiment, the song soon became an official Regimental march. And later, the county's unofficial anthem. Ward-Higgs wrote many other songs, but none as remotely popular as Sussex by the Sea. After a long and successful career in mercantile law, failing health led to his suicide in 1936 at Roehampton, at the age of 70.

    SBTS and the Albion


    Sussex by the Sea
    has been sung by Albion fans ever since 1911. During the First World War the Goldstone Ground became a temporary billet for troops en route to France. With the club itself losing 10 members of staff in the conflict, the song's famous ‘stand or fall' line suddenly became even more relevant, and poignant.

    SBTS was played by brass bands before every Goldstone match right up to the 1960s, when the Haywards Heath Town Prize Silver Band had the final residency.

    The tradition has had two recent revivals. In April 2007 the Christ’s Hospital School Band performed SBTS at Withdean to celebrate the song's centenary. And the Royal British Legion Concert Band played it before the Tottenham Hotspur friendly that marked the official opening of the Amex, on 30 July 2011.

    SBTS and the Fans

    The song's chorus has been adapted by Albion fans over the years. An early version “You can tell them all that we play football / For Sussex by the Sea.” was changed in 1965 by comedian and Albion director Norman Wisdom to: "Oh we're going up, and we'll win the cup / For Sussex by the Sea". For the 1983 FA Cup Final this became "Oh were going up TO win the cup…" which - however irrelevant for league games - persists to the present day.

    In January 2005 a novelty ska version was released in support of the Falmer stadium campaign by club poet-in-residence Attila the Stockbroker. It made number 17 in the singles charts.

    Dozens of commercial band recordings can be found on iTunes and YouTube, including Norman Wisdom's Goldstone performance. Plus a karaoke-style video, intended to help fans learn the original words from the big screens at the Amex.

    Whenever it’s played, Sussex by the Sea binds Seagulls fans everywhere into more than a century of pride in Albion and Sussex history. Totally different from any other football club's anthem, SBTS is, quite simply, an extraordinary piece of music. And it's all ours.

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    Getting the best out of SBTS

    Fans trying to sing the song unaccompanied can easily find themselves straining to hit the high notes. And clapping along usually causes the whole thing to go far too fast.

    The answer is to start off on a lower note – the easiest way to do this is sing the "Oh we're going up…" line first (in your head or out loud) and then the rest of the song gets pitched automatically. And if everyone sings the song far more slowly, there's a huge impact in terms of the atmosphere that Albion fans can generate, home or away.

    The recording currently used at the Amex is unfortunately pitched in a key that, for adult male voices, is far too high for comfort. An attempt is being made to get the club to re-engineer the playout to a lower pitch, enabling everyone to sing SBTS without straining.
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    Sussex by the Sea – Original Words

    Source: Sheet Music Published 1907, Herman Darewski, & Chas Sheard in the USA

    1st verse
    Now is the time for marching, Now let your hearts be gay,
    Hark to the merry bugles Sounding along our way.
    So let your voices ring, my boys, And take the time from me,
    And I’ll sing you a song as we march along,
    Of Sussex by the Sea!

    Chorus
    For We're the men from Sussex, Sussex by the Sea.
    We plough and sow and reap and mow,
    And useful men are we;
    And when you go to Sussex, Whoever you may be,
    You may tell them all that we stand or fall
    For Sussex by the Sea!

    Refrain
    Oh Sussex, Sussex by the Sea!
    Good old Sussex by the Sea!
    You may tell them all that we stand or fall,
    For Sussex by the Sea.

    2nd verse
    Up in the morning early, Start at the break of day;
    March till the evening shadows Tell us it's time to stay.
    We're always moving on, my boys, So take the time from me,
    And sing this song as we march along,
    Of Sussex by the Sea.

    Chorus & Refrain

    3rd verse

    Sometimes your feet are weary, Sometimes the way is long,
    Sometimes the day is dreary, Sometimes the world goes wrong;
    But if you let your voices ring, Your care will fly away,
    So we'll sing a song as we march along,
    Of Sussex by the Sea.

    Chorus & Refrain

    4th verse

    Light is the love of a soldier, That's what the ladies say -
    Lightly he goes a wooing, Lightly he rides away.
    In love and war we always are As fair as fair can be,
    And a soldier boy is the ladies’ joy
    In Sussex by the Sea.

    Chorus & Refrain

    5th verse

    Far o'er the seas we wander, Wide thro’ the world we roam;
    Far from the kind hearts yonder, Far from our dear old home;
    But ne'er shall we forget, my boys, And true we'll ever be
    To the girls so kind that we left behind
    In Sussex by the Sea.

    Chorus & Refrain



    Note: This transcript includes all of the original score's somewhat inconsistent punctuation.

    © John Cowen, April 2012
    Comments 11 Comments
    1. brakespear's Avatar
      brakespear -
      at last! all the words!
    1. symyjym's Avatar
      symyjym -
      Written when Gay meant happy.

      Should start;

      Now is the time for marching,
      Now let your hearts bleed blue,
      Hark to the merry bugles
      Sounding our way through.
      So let your voices ring, my boys,
      And take the time from me,
      And I’ll sing you a song as we march along,
      Of Sussex by the Sea!
    1. The Large One's Avatar
      The Large One -
      Quote Originally Posted by symyjym View Post
      Written when Gay meant happy.

      Should start;

      Now is the time for marching,
      Now let your hearts bleed blue,
      Hark to the merry bugles
      Sounding our way through.
      So let your voices ring, my boys,
      And take the time from me,
      And I’ll sing you a song as we march along,
      Of Sussex by the Sea!
      Gay can still mean happy.

      Keep the original words, there's nothing wrong with them at all - and no need to change them.
    1. symyjym's Avatar
      symyjym -
      Quote Originally Posted by The Large One View Post
      Gay can still mean happy.

      Keep the original words, there's nothing wrong with them at all - and no need to change them.
      It's not me that needs to be convinced, it's the thousands of Der Der Der'ers who need to be persuaded.

      I very much doubt that the younger generation of supporters will ever buy into it. Maybe it should be a topic on your radio show with a range of opinions from all the ages?
    1. The Large One's Avatar
      The Large One -
      Quote Originally Posted by symyjym View Post
      It's not me that needs to be convinced, it's the thousands of Der Der Der'ers who need to be persuaded.

      I very much doubt that the younger generation of supporters will ever buy into it. Maybe it should be a topic on your radio show with a range of opinions from all the ages?
      Maybe.

      But changing the lyrics because some people might feel embarrassed about an innocent word isn't necessary.

      'Gay' means happy. S'all.
    1. symyjym's Avatar
      symyjym -
      Quote Originally Posted by The Large One View Post
      Maybe.

      But changing the lyrics because some people might feel embarrassed about an innocent word isn't necessary.

      'Gay' means happy. S'all.
      I understand the argument, but you also have to understand that the new generation of Brighton supporters will outgrow it.

      In 10-20 years the lyrics will probably change to popular demand anyway, and it is just a question of what the official change will be. It could start with “Now’s the times for football, get on the pitch and play”?

      It is not much of a sacrifice or leap of faith if it gets the whole Amex joining in. To stubbornly not change it could be considered cutting off ones nose to spite their face.
    1. The Large One's Avatar
      The Large One -
      Quote Originally Posted by symyjym View Post
      I understand the argument, but you also have to understand that the new generation of Brighton supporters will outgrow it.

      In 10-20 years the lyrics will probably change to popular demand anyway, and it is just a question of what the official change will be. It could start with “Now’s the times for football, get on the pitch and play”?

      It is not much of a sacrifice or leap of faith if it gets the whole Amex joining in. To stubbornly not change it could be considered cutting off ones nose to spite their face.
      Well, those of us who do sing it sing the words from 100 years ago. That's not down to stubbornness, it's because they're the words.
    1. Vegas Seagull's Avatar
      Vegas Seagull -
      Quote Originally Posted by symyjym View Post
      It's not me that needs to be convinced, it's the thousands of Der Der Der'ers who need to be persuaded.

      I very much doubt that the younger generation of supporters will ever buy into it. Maybe it should be a topic on your radio show with a range of opinions from all the ages?
      Why are you saying 'it's not me' when you're the only one supporting it!?
      Great strides gave been made in the last year & if this progresses we'll all be, ahem, singing from the same hymn sheet.
      If you wish to draft a whole new song, put the draft up here otherwise leave our unique song alone.
    1. symyjym's Avatar
      symyjym -
      Quote Originally Posted by The Large One View Post
      Well, those of us who do sing it sing the words from 100 years ago. That's not down to stubbornness, it's because they're the words.
      Stubbornness, in not being open minded to a change. The goal is to get everyone singing the anthem. The question is "why don't they", then "find a solution".
    1. symyjym's Avatar
      symyjym -
      Quote Originally Posted by Vegas Seagull View Post
      Why are you saying 'it's not me' when you're the only one supporting it!?
      Great strides gave been made in the last year & if this progresses we'll all be, ahem, singing from the same hymn sheet.
      If you wish to draft a whole new song, put the draft up here otherwise leave our unique song alone.
      I made this comment almost 2 years ago, it was TLO who brought it up today, and yes I drafted a new verse in comment #3.
    1. Moshe Gariani's Avatar
      Moshe Gariani -
      Quote Originally Posted by symyjym View Post
      I made this comment almost 2 years ago, it was TLO who brought it up today, and yes I drafted a new verse in comment #3.
      Your suggestion is ridiculous.
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