Sunday, February 13, 2011

Take your P.A. music and shove it

We were at Twickenham yesterday. When Chris Ashton swallow dived over for his fourth try music once again barked through the P.A.. My son, who's twenty-three, turned to me wearily and said "I don't need Mark Ronson to tell me to celebrate".

I'd like to introduce him to the misguided soul who's responsible for tarting up the basic Twickenham experience - 30 players, 80,000 souls, the smell of mud and Guinness and, in yesterday's case, sunshine - in the mistaken belief that he's somehow making the game more appealing to the young. There were lots of young people there yesterday - university students with prematurely flattened noses, small children with their Italian dads, teenage girls on a spree, young Milanese wearing gladiator's helmets - and from what I could observe they weren't remotely impressed by the fact that one Lee Mead sang "Jerusalem", that flame shot out of some barrels when the England team came out or that paratroopers abseiled from the roof of the stand with the match ball.

I'm sick of saying it. Anyone who thinks that major sporting occasions need to be made more exciting should be disqualified from having anything to do with major sporting occasions. But I'm just a carping old git. Instead it's about time the young people they purport to be appealing to marched on the offices of these people behind a banner reading "Take your fatuous notions of excitement, your celebrities who wouldn't be recognised if they were busking on Twickenham railway station, your preposterous pyrotechnics that render the field of play invisible, your utterly, utterly pointless P.A. music that the crowd always drowns out anyway and give us instead either a military band or a male voice choir. We are the crowd and we provide the excitement. You don't. Butt out."


  1. Paratroopers! luxury we went to see Barnsley Ipswich a bloodless almost goalless 1:1 draw enlived at half time by two 11 years (one local and one for some reason from Warrington) failing to kick all but one penality through some holes in a makeshift goal. The winner (I never caught who it was)winning a fish supper but both lads getting a case ball to take home . meanwhile the barely working score board showed all the other matches in the league where also 0:0 draws at Half time.

  2. I blame Diddy David Hamilton. There was a time when you could travel to every football ground in the country and not hear a single note of music. Except when you went to Fulham, that is, where the diminutive Radio 1 jock would be spinning discs. And talking. Now it's omnipresent at every ground before, during(!) and after every game. It was only a matter of time before it infiltrated the world of egg chasers. I can't condone the throwing of fire extinguishers from altitude, but yes, somebody really has to do something. Or, at the very least, pen a strongly worded letter to The Times (well, we are English after all).

  3. I occasionally go to see football (soccer) matches here in the states and it is atrocious. Because soccer is considered to be boring and the games are low scoring they hype up ever single incident that happens.They play music over the PA while the ball is in play and draw raffles and things too. The White Stripes' 'Seven Nation Army' intro plays when the home team wins a corner and if the goalie does so much as deal with a routine back pass or shot a voice booms out "Saaaaaaaaavvvvvveeeeee!"
    It's a long way from Saltergate on a wet Wednesday night.

  4. Football matches the nation over have suffered from this affliction for years and it gets on my nerves beyond all comprehension. Fortunately, at Hull City we have a bloke in charge who hates it as much as we do and so the KC has never needed to put Chelsea Dagger on to remind joyous fans that we've just scored.

    At Middlesbrough a few years ago, they scored four times and so we got Pigbag four times. However, in a close game, we scored three and did our own version in the absence of celebration music for the away side. There was an element of schadenfreude about that as the Boro fans looked really embarrassed, despite winning 4-3.

  5. Ipswich Town is currently running a fans' poll to decide the post goal celebratory music. The slight twist is that all 6 entries are penned by supporters, so no more Chelsea Dagger, Tom Hark etc. Despite many requests there is no 'no music' option. Without wishing to denigrate the presumably well meaning efforts submitted, silence would be preferable.

  6. Karajan up the Khyber

    Has the craze for minute's silences reached you yet? If not, you don't know what you're missing. Nary a Liga match goes by these days without one, usually to mark the passing of a corrupt 1970s alderman or other member of the local great and good.

    The key features of the new default modality for minute's (sic) silences (sic is that they don't last for a minute and they're not silent either. To save us from ourselves and our grief-pooping inclination to shout "Just bloody get on with it!" we get a twenty-second random snippet from some K-Tel-equivalent Adagio compilation to get our adrenaline racing.

    I'm half expecting the next time I go to the cinema to be faced with a minute's silence for the best boy's gran.

    If you gave whoever it is a testimonial at that ground way back when, OK, give them a minute's silence there now. Under any other circumstances, that's what obits columns are for, isn't it?

  7. One extraordinary example of the opposite use of PA music- to calm fans DOWN. Chelsea v Millwall, FA Cup replay in I think 1995 - in the dying moments the Millwall keeper saved a penalty which put them through. Immediately, the PA started playing very cheesy, downbeat music, in the hope that the fans would calm down and go home. In fact, a riot ensued, seats being chucked etc, which just proved that the emotional effect of PA music as a downer worked no better than as an upper!

  8. What Richard said above, try going a game (of any sport) in America. They play music while the game is actually in progress. They even tell people when to chant.

  9. On my first ever trip to the Emirates (the satdium, that is...), I was amazed to see some self-appointed heads directing the chanting. I suppose that's allowed.

    Re. PA music, Arsenal playing "The Wonder Of You" is pretty damn cool. Who'd've thought Elvis was a Gooner?


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  11. This is, of course, one of the things that Sky Sports did to sports, for which we're supposed to be delighted.

    In America, where sports consists mostly of long gaps of nothing happening punctuated by thirty seconds of running, you can sort of see the need to use something to try and keep the audience interested, like a warm-up man coming on to keep the laughter flowing while cameras are set for retakes.

    But sports which don't really stop, it's a bit pointless.

    On the other hand, my Dad would spend the entire half-time of the FA Cup yelling 'show us the band' over the panelists' discussion. So, yes, a marching band at half time might be allowed.