Barmy Army

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The Barmy Army chanting at the Sydney Cricket Ground Barmy Army at the SCG.JPG
The Barmy Army chanting at the Sydney Cricket Ground

The Barmy Army at first an informal group, was later turned into a company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales. The company provides tickets and arranges touring parties for some of its members to follow the English cricket team in the UK and overseas. The name is also applied to followers of the team who join in with match day activities in the crowd, but do not necessarily travel as part of an organised tour. The term "barmy" is English slang for "mad" or "crazy".


The group, then less organised, was given its name by the Australian media during the 1994–95 Test series in Australia, reportedly for the fans' hopeless audacity in travelling all the way to Australia in the near-certain knowledge that their team would lose, and the fact that they kept on chanting encouragement to the England team even when England were losing quite badly. [1] [2] It was co-founded by Paul Burnham. [3]

Test cricket The longest form of cricket

Test cricket is the form of the sport of cricket with the longest match duration, and is considered the game's highest standard. Test matches are played between national representative teams that have been granted ‘Test status’, as determined and conferred by the International Cricket Council (ICC). The term Test stems from the fact that the long, gruelling matches are mentally and physically testing. Two teams of 11 players each play a four-innings match, which may last up to five days. It is generally considered the most complete examination of a team's endurance and ability.

Australia Country in Oceania

Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. It is the largest country in Oceania and the world's sixth-largest country by total area. The neighbouring countries are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and East Timor to the north; the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east. The population of 26 million is highly urbanised and heavily concentrated on the eastern seaboard. Australia's capital is Canberra, and its largest city is Sydney. The country's other major metropolitan areas are Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide.

Paul Lawrence "Leafy" Burnham is a cricket supporter from Twickenham, London, England. He is one of the founding members of the Barmy Army of supporters of the England cricket team.


On the first day of the 1994–95 Ashes Series at Adelaide Oval, a group of supporters of the English Cricket team during the lunch break headed to T-Shirt City on Hindley Street and ordered 50 shirts saying "Atherton's Barmy Army" with the Union Jack emblazoned on the back. By the end of the Test over 200 shirts had been purchased. [4] This Test is often cited as the catalyst for the formal establishment of the Barmy Army.

The England cricket team toured Australia in 1994–95 to compete in the Ashes series against their hosts. The series consisted of five Test matches, Australia winning three, England one, and the other match was drawn. Australia retained the Ashes a third consecutive time.

Adelaide Oval Stadium in Adelaide, South Australia

Adelaide Oval is a sports ground in Adelaide, South Australia, located in the parklands between the city centre and North Adelaide. The venue is predominantly used for cricket and Australian rules football, but has also played host to rugby league, rugby union, soccer, tennis among other sports as well as regularly being used to hold concerts. described Adelaide Oval as being "one of the most picturesque Test cricket grounds in Australia, if not the world". After the completion of the ground‘s most recent redevelopment in 2014, sports journalist Gerard Whateley described the venue as being "the most perfect piece of modern architecture because it's a thoroughly contemporary stadium with all the character that it's had in the past".

The Barmy Army, which is now a limited company, states that it wants to "make watching cricket more fun and much more popular". The group uses flags, banners, songs and chants to encourage the team and crowd participation in their activities. In contrast to the reputations of some sports fans for hooliganism, the Barmy Army organisers actively discourage and avoid such behaviour.[ citation needed ]

Flag piece of fabric with a distinctive design, used as a symbol

A flag is a piece of fabric with a distinctive design and colours. It is used as a symbol, a signalling device, or for decoration. The term flag is also used to refer to the graphic design employed, and flags have evolved into a general tool for rudimentary signalling and identification, especially in environments where communication is challenging. The study of flags is known as "vexillology" from the Latin vexillum, meaning "flag" or "banner".

Banner flag or other piece of cloth bearing a symbol, logo, slogan or other message

A banner can be a flag or other piece of cloth bearing a symbol, logo, slogan or other message. A flag whose design is the same as the shield in a coat of arms is called a banner of arms. Also, a bar-shaped piece of non-cloth advertising material sporting a name, slogan, or other marketing message.

Song Composition for voice(s)

A song is a musical composition intended to be sung by the human voice. This is often done at distinct and fixed pitches using patterns of sound and silence. Songs contain various forms, such as those including the repetition of sections. Through semantic widening, a broader sense of the word "song" may refer to instrumentals.

The group engages in charity work and has gained a good reputation among most cricket administrators. However, many cricket followers find their constant chanting to be annoying and disruptive, particularly during the afternoon sessions of Test matches when the chanting of the Barmy Army, fuelled by their consumption of large amounts of alcohol, often becomes a repetitive, irritating background noise; among others, the renowned cricket writer/commentator Christopher Martin-Jenkins accused them of "demeaning English cricket". [5]

Charitable organization non-profit organization with a charitable purpose

A charitable organization or charity is a non-profit organization whose primary objectives are philanthropy and social well-being.

Christopher Martin-Jenkins English cricketer, broadcaster and journalist

Christopher Dennis Alexander Martin-Jenkins, MBE, also known as CMJ, was a British cricket journalist and a President of the MCC. He was also the longest serving commentator for Test Match Special (TMS) on BBC Radio, from 1973 until diagnosed with terminal cancer in January 2012.

Throughout the 1990s, increased spending power, via a stronger British Pound at the time, enabled fans to take the song overseas when following tours of the English national cricket team. Because of that particular song, and the fact that it seemed to represent English fans' activity of standing in the hot sun, drinking lager all day until they were sunburnt and unwell, it became a description as well as a song. David Lloyd and Ian Botham used the tag to describe the supporters whilst commentating for Sky Sports during England's tours from 1993 to 1995.

David Lloyd (cricketer) cricketer

David Lloyd is an English former cricketer, now a commentator, who played county cricket for Lancashire and Test and One Day International cricket for England. He also played semi-professional football for Accrington Stanley. He is known through the cricketing world as "Bumble" because of the ostensible similarity between his facial profile and those of the Bumblies, characters from Michael Bentine's children's television programmes.

Ian Botham former England Test cricketer and Test team captain, and current cricket commentator

Sir Ian Terence Botham is a British cricket commentator and a former cricketer who has been chairman of Durham County Cricket Club since 2017. Widely regarded as one of the greatest all-rounders in cricket history, Botham represented England in both Test and One-Day International cricket. He played most of his first-class cricket for Somerset, and also for Worcestershire, Durham and Queensland. He was an aggressive right-handed batsman and, as a right arm fast-medium bowler, was noted for his swing bowling. He generally fielded close to the wicket, predominantly in the slips. In Test cricket, Botham scored 14 centuries with a highest score of 208, and from 1986 to 1988, he held the world record for the most Test wickets until overtaken by fellow all-rounder Sir Richard Hadlee. He took five wickets in an innings 27 times and 10 wickets in a match four times. In 1980, he became the second player in Test history to complete the "match double" of scoring 100 runs and taking 10 wickets in the same match.

Sky Sports is a group of British subscription television sports channels operated by the satellite pay-TV company Sky, a division of Comcast. Sky Sports is the dominant subscription television sports brand in the United Kingdom and Ireland. It has played a major role in the increased commercialisation of British sport since 1991, sometimes playing a large role in inducing organisational changes in the sports it broadcasts, most notably when it encouraged the Premier League to break away from the Football League in 1992.

In the late 1990s performers Richard Stilgoe and Peter Skellern recognised the need for an anthem for the loyal supporters of a team that regularly seemed to lose and wrote a stirring song called "The Barmy Army" which they included in their touring repertoire. It can be found on their 1999 CD "A Quiet Night Out" and humorously celebrates the English team's skill at "snatching defeat from the jaws of victory".

Trumpeter Billy Cooper Cheering England at 1st Test vs Pakistan Dubai January 2012 Billy the trumpeter.JPG
Trumpeter Billy Cooper Cheering England at 1st Test vs Pakistan Dubai January 2012

Most grounds now set aside areas especially for Barmy Army fans apart from Lord's. [3]

In other sports

Supporters of English national teams in other sports are also subsidiaries of the Barmy Army. The rugby equivalent was formed in 2014, [6] they also form part of the Army to support British and Irish Lions, while there is another separate subsidiary for Rugby League. The term Barmy Army has also been used to describe the Devonshire football team Plymouth Argyle F.C., usually with a prefix of ‘Green and White’ during stadium-wide chants, although there is no association to the above groups.

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  1. Staff. Crass and corporate - why the Barmy Army are no laughing matter 1 December 2006
  2. Dominic Lawson: Fight back against the Barmy Army, The Independent, 5 Dec 2006
  3. 1 2 "Not barmy, just lucky". Archived from the original on 7 January 2014. Retrieved 20 July 2012.
  4. "How Barmy Army teed off in SA". 30 November 2013. Retrieved 11 February 2018.
  5. Christopher Martin-Jenkins. Vaughan's men reap dividends of bolder approach The Times, 26 January 2005
  6. "Barmy Army Rugby". Retrieved 27 November 2017.