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Co-founder: Paul Burnham

“It was a bit of a novelty one with a blue bell, so I recognised it,” Cooper says. “When I said ‘That’s mine,’ they said, ‘Play us a tune to prove it.’ I played The Great Escape, which is why I always start with that one now. Paul came over and said, ‘That was fantastic, can you come and do it tomorrow?’ And it all went from there.”

Burnham says Cooper’s “an invaluable asset” in getting the crowd going in the same direction. “He’s got comic timing, he’s a very thoughtful guy, Billy,” he says. “He doesn’t rock up pissed playing trumpet, he’s a professional player and takes pride in what he does.”

Controversy rocked the Army when Cooper wasn’t allowed to take his horn into Trent Bridge for the first Test due to “health and safety” concerns, much to the disappointment of Kevin Pietersen, Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad, who were among a chorus of players saying he should be allowed in. And as Burnham says, “the Barmy Army’s not needed at Lord’s”. But at Old Trafford and Chester-le-Street, Billy’s featured heavily. David Warner even praised his choice of the Rocky theme when he came out.

“It’s not about giving a trumpet recital, it’s about adding some variety to the day and helping the singing be a bit more in tune than it might be,” he says. “England crowds like to have a sing-song anyway. There’s nothing wrong with quiet times either, but the times when the energy needs to be picked up a bit present themselves fairly obviously.”

“I’m careful for it not to be all about the trumpet, though. The last thing I’d want is to take anything away from the cricket. That and people having a good time is what matters.” 

Where’s Billy? The horn among the hordes

Why's Billy playing that? And other barmy songs

Watching the Ashes at the ground or on TV, you hear familiar tunes but may not have a clue why it’s being played or what the red and whites are singing. Rocky theme: Makes sense when David Warner comes out. Ring Of Fire: He’s Matty Prior, He’s Matty Prior. Only Fools And Horses: For Johnathan Trott. Guess why.

Neighbours, Home & Away, I Should Be So Lucky: Billy plays Kylie, Jason and soapie themes for the Aussies. Yellow Submarine: “You all live in a convict colony, a convict colony, a convict colony … ”

God Save The Queen: They might just be singing the national anthem, or the Aussie specific version, “God save your gracious Queen, long live your noble…”

Rudy: The Specials’ song “A message to you Rooty” for Joe.

Ding Dong Merrily On High: Great for Xmas and Ian Bell.

My Old Man’s A Dustman: A special occasion when this is sung for Graeme Swann. Features the closing line, “Never cut a spinner or pat a burning dog.”


Photos: Getty


Barmy barracks: The famed Army of English cricket fans formed when their team was crap – has Ashes success changed them?
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