The Duquesne Pep Song

by Dave Morus

From time to time, I like to put forward some information about Duquesne History. I like old things, and I like music. Luckily, I had the opportunity to combine those passions when I discovered little-known Duquesne spirit songs on eBay some years ago. I have them framed and hanging on our living room wall.

It's been more than a year since the firsts installment, but I only have three of these pieces of sheet music. If I don't space out these entries, the series would be over before it began! The second obscure Duquesne tune in my possession is simply entitled "Duquesne Pep Song," shown to the left.

The lyrics are as follows:

Onward, ever, for Old Duquesne
And for Red and Blue, for you and me
Yea, Dukes, go onward team with pep and steam
Six points and one, Night Riders, Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!
Alma Mater on yonder hill
Looks to her sons and flag of Red and Blue
Say, are you now and always faithful, good and true
To Old Duquesne?

The only other reference to "Old Duquesne" in any school song is in the Alma Mater; the lyricists are not the same. The copyright on this tune is 1938, three years after that of the drinking song "The Dukes of Duquesne," which we discussed a long time ago.

This song references a facet of Duquesne history that - though it is referenced on Wikipedia - many don't know. For a number of years, the Duquesne Football Dukes were referred to as the "Night Riders." This was because they were one of the first college teams in the country to play at night under lights. At the time, they called Forbes Field home. Thanks to Google's newspaper archives, we can see some pieces of this history with little trouble. Here are three old articles that reference the nickname. You can click to see a larger version:

PGH Press, 11/18/1930
Post-Gazette, 9/21/1936

Gettysburg College Edition, 9/16/1936

Of course, during this time period, the Duquesne Football program was quite good. The Dukes, or rather, Night Riders, were involved in some big games in those days, with bowl wins against Miami (1933 season) and Mississippi State (1936 season). The latter victory came in the Orange Bowl. It's easy to imagine a time when the name "Night Riders" was one that would make opponents a little bit nervous. I've always preferred nighttime football for some reason, and the thought of that old nickname and tradition makes the horrid noontime kickoffs that are too common today across all of college football sting all the more.

This song, as with The Dukes of Duquesne, is very football oriented. This is something that seems a bit foreign these days, as we are far removed from the time that Duquesne was a force to be reckoned with in football. Of course the program has seen recent success in the NEC and the MAAC, but that's far from the bowl victories that we had before World War II forced the dissolution of the football program.

Hopefully, songs like these get rediscovered and get a bit more play as we move into the future. There's nothing like some history and tradition - even if it's renewed tradition - to get the school spirit pumping!

Onward, ever, for Old Duquesne!