Norfolk shanty singer hopes to play at Australia's biggest sporting event

The Albany Shantymen are hoping to perform at the 2021 Australian Rules grand final in Perth. 

The Albany Shantymen are hoping to perform at the 2021 Australian Rules grand final in Perth. - Credit: Supplied by Gary 'Grizz' Greenwald

The sounds of a sea shanty group with Norfolk roots could soon be centre stage at Australia's biggest sporting event. 

The Albany Shantymen group is hoping to headline the half-time entertainment at the Australian Rules Football grand final, which will take place in Perth on September 25.

Supplied by Gary 'Grizz' Greenwald, who founded the Albany Shantymen group after moving to Australia. 

Supplied by Gary 'Grizz' Greenwald, who founded the Albany Shantymen group after moving to Australia. - Credit: Supplied by Gary 'Grizz' Greenwald

"Getting to sing at a grand final would be a fairy tale," group founder, Gary 'Grizz' Greenwald said. "Aussie Rules footy is like a religion here so being involved would be like several Christmases and birthdays rolled into one."

Grizz, 48, started the group after emigrating Down Under in 2015. He grew up in Horning, went to Broadland High School and worked at Hellesdon Hospital as a mental health nurse for 10 years.

Gary Ablett of Geelong kicking during the 2018 AFL round 20 match between Richmond and Geelong at th

Gary Ablett Jr takes aim at the ball during an Australian Rules Football match. - Credit: Flickered/Creative Commons licence

He said he had never imagined leaving Norfolk, but after visiting his wife's family in Australia they fell in love with the port city of Albany.


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Grizz said: "It looks much more like an old Scottish fishing town than you would expect."

In his Norfolk days Grizz played rugby for Lakenham Hewitt, which, in a roundabout way led him to join the Sheringham Shantymen.

An Australian Rules football match in action.

An Australian Rules football match in action. - Credit: Archant Library

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He said: "I am long enough in the tooth to remember the tradition of singing in the clubhouse after the match. I really enjoyed this and after I finished my playing days I looked for something similar and found it in sea shanties.

"When I got to Australia I wanted to continue but found that there was no local group. The lads in Sheringham were fantastic and sent me all their lyrics and loads of good advice.

"Without their help we would never have gotten the group started. The guys in Sheringham are more responsible for the rise in popularity of shanty singing in Australia than they know."

The Albany Shantymen have already sung at an AFL match. If they get a grand final billing they will be following in the footsteps of Ed Sheeran, Meatloaf and The Killers. 

Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran has also headlined the half-time entertainment at the Aussie Rules grand final. - Credit: PA

Aussie Rules is Australia's most popular spectator sport, and the final is often the most-watched event of the year, with more than 80,000 people at the stadium and around three million television viewers.

The game is played with a oval ball which players can catch and run with, and tackle an opponent who has it to the ground. 

Meatloaf performing at Blickling HallPicture: James BassCopy: Adam GrettonFor: EDP NEWSEDP

Meatloaf has performed at the Australian Rules Grand Final. - Credit: Meatloaf has performed at the Australian Rules Grand Final.


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