The Sound Of Music
It is rather apt that I should frequent the only football stadium to have a church attached to it, because going to the match, for me at least, is a cathartic, silent experience, a chance for self-reflection, for quiet contemplation, joining in the singing of a couple of well-known songs (or pretending to) and forever awaiting the sublime.
Indeed, Ken Loach’s The Golden Vision from the late 60s, features a young fan praying for the entire first eleven, and many of us still ask for last minute salvation, occasionally answered.
But rather than be allowed alone with my thoughts, many fans have decided on tools to help ‘create an atmosphere’ at games at other grounds, and subsequently, accessories have become ubiquitous over time.
I had to ask the father-in-law-to-be about how this trend developed, on the Gwladys Street End at least. As Loach highlighted, back then men went to games in a group and had to look cool. They wore suits, a scarf in the ground but never on the way there. There was the odd European trip-inspired bugle, the occasional sing-a-long, not just the Beatles as Kop propagandists would have you believe but local, often racist chants, and only rattles would be used – which were regularly made in woodwork classes.
As global awareness increased, so did the presence of props to create noise and attract attention. Even though I got in to football just before the inflatables craze (and admit to getting my very own Big Banana for my seventh birthday) but never once considered musical accompaniments.
Fast forward to now, and going the match means I look forward to some time alone with my thoughts and forty thousand others, knowing that there will be ‘hilarious’ flags and banners, costumes, badges, maybe even the odd blade, but thankfully few musical instruments. However, were I to support another team, or heaven forbid have an interest in the national team, I might be forced to endure a ‘band’ replete with drum… whilst further afield, there could be fireworks, flares, and vuvuzelas.
The waspish droning might have spoiled many people’s World Cup, but recent events suggest the horns have now become used as weapons in South African stadiums and could well be banned (after being thrown alongside cabbages – I haven’t even mentioned celery or pig’s heads yet!)
Whilst the plastic protagonists are yet to infiltrate British stadia, I for one would be saddened if the music died. Because just like the old woman playing the church organ, to fully immerse oneself in the event, concentrate the mind, there often needs to be something to focus on, some background muzak, which facilitates the tranquility of solitude.
So, for now, let the music play…