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Union Boy

[ Roud - ; AFS 90 ; Ballad Index MA256 ; trad.]

Danny Spooner sang Union Boy in 2017 on his final CD, Home. He noted:

When John Meredith first visited Gulgong NSW he recorded this song from Bill Coughlin, then in his seventies. Coughlin had learned the song during the 1902 shearers’ strike when he was 16. John Lahey prints another version in his Great Australian Folk Songs.


Danny Spooner sings Union Boy

When I first arrived in Quirindi those girls all jumped for joy
Saying one unto the other, “Here comes a union boy.
We’ll treat him to a bottle, likewise to a dram,
And with all our hearts we welcome him, the loyal union man.”

Well, I hadn’t been in Quirindi about two days or three
When an handsome pretty fair young maid she fell in love with me,
Introduced me to her mother as a loyal union man,
Saying, “Mother, dearest mother, he wants to join our gang.”

“Oh daughter, dearest daughter, now this can never be,
For just four years he scabbed at Forquadee.”
“But mother, dearest mother, the truth to you I’ll tell—
Since then he’s joined the union and the country knows it well.”

“Well Fred, if you’ve joined the union, you must stick to it like glue
And all the scabs that were upon your back will soon be very few;
But if you go a-scabbing or blacklegging likewise,
It’s with my long, long fingernails I’ll scratch out both your eyes.
I’ll put you to every cruelty, I’ll squeeze you in a vice,
I’ll chop you up in a hay machine and sell you for Chinese rice.”

Come all you honest workers wherever that you be,
Rise up the flag, our union flag, the flag of unity.
Then scabbing in this country will all be at an end
And I pray that every worker here will be loyal union friends.