When Victorian minister William Gladstone visited Middlesbrough in 1862, he found a town at the heart of the industrial revolution and made the now famous statement ‘This is a remarkable place, the youngest of England’s enterprise. It’s an infant,’ he said, ‘but if so, it’s an infant Hercules.’
Fourteen years later Middlesbrough football club was formed and to the people of Teesside it became an institution that embodied the spirit and character of that ‘infant Herculean’ prediction.
Fast forward 150 years and those words of Gladstone were the catalyst for ‘Infant Hercules,’ a fantastic song written and performed by Teesside based Joseph Hammill (pictured above) and his wonderful family group Cattle and Cane. I’ve seen them many times and that song is always one of the highlights of their performances.
And when two years ago the FA held their annual Academy conference at Middlesbrough’s wonderful Hurworth training facility and magnificent Rockcliffe Hall Hotel, Cattle and Cane performed the song live to open the conference in the most appropriate Teesside manner.
But now, perhaps the greatest accolade so far is that the words of this wonderful song will be immortalised by being printed inside the collar of the new ‘Boro home shirt created by Hummel for the 2018/19 season.
Joseph is naturally delighted and considers the idea a real privilege and one of his proudest moments in music. “That definitely wasn’t something I thought would happen when writing it! I like songs that make you want to push your chest out with pride and I hope ‘Boro fans feel that with the song. There’s something about the area that you can’t quite identify in words. I guess spirit would be the closest I can get.’
Joseph is now taking that spirit even further by embarking on a solo career alongside his work with sister Helen and brother in Cattle and Cane. For anyone not already familiar with the words of the song here they are in full….
Built on the banks of the Tees,this Infant Hercules.
Born from grime, born from graft, the world won’t forget Infant Hercules.
Men built from steel, women just as strong, ICI at Wilton, Head Wrightson, and Dorman Long.
The legacy that we have left, is there to see from east to west
Built on the banks of the Tees.
Infant Hercules, he made the town we know today,
smoke and fire, and shipyards and the steelworks paved the way.
The sky was grey, the air was thick, with chemicals that stick, in the throat and the lungs.
The warm orange glow from our industry at night, is home to me, the most comforting of sights
From Eston hills I’m looking down, I look with fondness on my town where I was born, I was raised.
A small town with bigger hearts and voices to be heard,
betrayed by the powers who swore to protect and serve.
We were made from industry, they’ll not forget our history where I was born, I was raised.
We can meet the future, we can write a new page, leave us our identity, stop changing our name.
Smoggie til the day I die, I love that haze across the sky where I was born, I was raised.
Infant Hercules he must go marching once again, Infant Hercules he must go marching once again,
In a different way than was before, let’s pick this town from off the floor,
Where I was born, I was raised.
They’re great words that can surely provide the necessary impetus for a promotion push. Incidentally, a brand new solo recording by Joseph was released on Friday June 15 ahead of an EP and Joseph’s debut solo headline show this September. It is already featuring in the country charts.