Scourges Of The Modern Game: Goal Music

By on Sep 5, 2009 in Latest, Opinion | 13 comments

The ball is passed out to the wing. The winger controls the ball with the outside of his foot and runs towards a full back with a look upon his face that reminds you of a rabbit stuck in front of car headlights. Momentarily, it looks as if the winger can’t remember which leg is which but this is all an act, and he jumps away from the tackle. Approaching the byline, having looked up for no more than a tenth of a second, and crosses. The centre-forward and an opposition full-back race towards the ball like athletes straining to cross the line in a sprint race, but the centre-forward gets to the ball, flicking the ball deftly across the goalkeeper and into the far corner of the net. The crowd jumps as one, grown men hugging and kissing like the winning contestants on a game show… and then “Tom Hark” blares out from the public address system.

It doesn’t have to be “Tom Hark”, of course. It could just as easily be “Song 2″ by Blur, “Papa’s Got A Brand New Pig Bag” or “I Feel Good”. Football and music have an occasionally fractious relationship. On the one hand, a trip to Brighton couldn’t be complete without “Sussex By The Sea” parping out over the loudspeakers as the teams come out onto the pitch and Chas & Dave belting out “Glory, Glory Tottenham Hotspur” at the end of a winning performance at White Hart Lane provides the perfect coda to an afternoon of football in North London, but the other hand, it has started to feel as if music at football matches has almost started to drown out the sound of the crowd. It is sound of a football club deciding what you should sing and how you should celebrate.

Goal music, you see, isn’t part of the pre-match experience. It’s neither the beginning nor the end of the afternoon’s excitement. It’s encroaching onto the field of play and, worse still, it’s as if they don’t trust us to celebrate enough of our own accord. It doesn’t end there, either. Stadium announcers now act as if they have been given a dozen espressos before they take to the microphone, and goals aren’t met (as they should be) with the name and number of the goalscorer and the time of the goal but with a self-congratulatory bellowing that sounds like a foghorn with an Estuary accent. The post goal stadium announcement should be perfunctory and, of course, it should be slightly morose if it is the opposition that has scored. It is a public service announcement for the likes of me, who have missed the goal because the clouds over the stadium have formed into a particularly interesting shape. Anything more than this is show-boating.

There is one thing use of the public address system than goal music, but it is usually so feebly done that it doesn’t feel like a menace. This is the piping of the sound of a crowd over the public address system. We were at Clarence Park last season “enjoying” a particularly tepid Blue Square South match between St Albans City and Chelmsford City when a sound that resembled a vacuum cleaner starting up drifted over the pitch. Players stopped what they were doing and looked at each other. The crowd, momentarily raised from their Sudoku puzzles and the idle conversation that passed for “watching the football” there at the time. As the realisation of what it was started to dawn upon people, the crowd dissolved into fits of giggles. Then, a couple of minutes later, it happened again. Then again, and again at seemingly random intervals while, if you looked closely enough into the back of the stand, you could see a confused looking PA man fiddling with the offending (and apparently malfunctioning) laptop.

Fortunately, this phenomenon hasn’t become widespread, but goal music seems to be spreading through football like swine flu. It is almost impossible to think of a set of circumstances in which it would be tolerable, but only one comes to mind. If – and it’s a big if, this – upon scoring a goal an organist on a Wurlitzer came up out of the centre circle on a riser playing “Ode To Joy” while fireworks went off and dancing grizzly bears wearing replica shirts high fived each other, then – and only then – might it considered to be anything other than an affront to our sensibilities. And don’t even get me started on those people that join in with the goal music and start jigging along to it. I wouldn’t want to be held responsible for my actions.

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    13 Comments

  1. I couldn’t agree more. I’ve yet to hear a single view in favour of goal celebration music – except from George Burley who claimed whilst managing Southampton that the players liked it, but I guess, due to the lack of goals actually celebrated that that was due to novelty value.

    If it’s not banned soon the next logical step will have the William Tell Overture blaring out as a winger speeds down the wing, ending with car crash type sound effects as the full backs Terry Hurlock style tackle ends his run.

    Wurzel

    September 5, 2009

  2. I agree 100%. I really cannot stand music after a goal. In fact for me it automatically renders a club ‘small time’ in my mind if I hear it. Can’t believe even Celtic blurted out that ‘Chelsea chelsea’ song (whatever its called) after a goal in the Champions League! Horrendous.

    Jonathan

    September 5, 2009

  3. the next logical step will have the William Tell Overture blaring out

    Which portion of the Overture do you have in mind?

    ejh

    September 5, 2009

  4. I do like the Bundesliga PA goal response, first name given then the crowd tell the surname.

    Obviously agree with the rest of it.

    etienne

    September 5, 2009

  5. You’re right, of course, but at the same time let’s not forget the joy of ironically singing the Pigbag music as an away fan at Middlesbrough after your team’s scored.

    ruudboy

    September 5, 2009

  6. The problem with goal music is it tries to hide that fact that the atmosphere at the majority of football grounds has gone down the toilet. The biggest thrill I used to get from football was the old “Yeaaaah-aawwwww-yeaaah!” of a ball shot at goal that was saved or hit the post or was some how prevented from going in breaking hearts of all around only to be then tidied into the net by another player “Yeaaah-awwwww-yeah!”

    Last week I heard “Yeaaaah-You Useless Tw*t-yeaaaah”. That is “Yes this looks like a goal – No, it isnt ergo I must pile all the vitriol in my body onto the soul who took the shot that has disappointed me – Yes its a goal”.

    This is what passes for support these days at football and frankly I’m not sure that it would not be more enjoyable to just have PigBag pumped out so loud that each fan can hear nothing but it and the relentless negativity does not get to the pitch.

    I’m exaggerating for comic effect but only a bit. Clubs are not very good at managing atmosphere but fans are not good at it anymore either and that is a bigger problem. For example if you look at the Manchester United Arsene Wenger chant story of recent days you might conclude that fans can not be trusted with creating the atmosphere at grounds.

    The German way is good cause it is fan based but I swear that over the past three years had our number 15 scored and the PA had gone “Joe….” the retort would have been miserable men shouting back a different C word to “Colbeck” and encouraging their kids to do the same.

    Michael Wood

    September 6, 2009

  7. Aaah but is it really about not trusting the fans to create atmosphere? I’ve wondered for a while if it’s more a way of crushing the spirit of away fans. I travelled all the way to the National Hockey Stadium in MK a few years back, and if it wasn’t bad enough to travel all day, sit in the cold in a stand with no roof, and then go behind after five minutes, the EXTRA LOUD blast of Celebration by Kool and the Gang that followed the goal really rubbed it in. And to this day, a horrible trip to Sixfields means I break out in a cold sweat if I hear Do You Really Like It by DJ Pied Piper and the Master of Ceremonies….

    Mark B

    September 7, 2009

  8. A few Orient fans have cheekily suggested our home goals are accompanied by Yakety Sax (the Benny Hill chase theme). Ideally, it would be introduced for the Millwall derby: their reaction to it would be priceless.

    Jimmy Cass

    September 7, 2009

  9. The songs they use are so obvious, that’s why it’s so annoying. A bit of Napalm Death would go down nicely I think.

    I’d quite like to hear ‘Trouble’ by Shampoo when the opposition score, it might take the edge off the moment.

    John A

    September 7, 2009

  10. I Promised You A Miracle by Simple Minds would be the only appropriate song to play at Blundell Park at the moment.

    Mark Wilson

    September 7, 2009

  11. I like John A’s suggestion about “Trouble” by Shampoo being played when the opposition score. Perhaps it could be alternated with the majestic “Stick You” by Daphne and Celeste.

    Gervillian Swike

    September 7, 2009

  12. Not sure what the procedure is at the New Wembley, but my experience of finals – FA trophy 1998, and Blackpool winning play-offs at Cardiff (not sure which year) was spoiled by the high-volume usual songs from the PA at the end ‘We are the Champions’ etc. And then, in the moment of triumph, you get annoyed by the dullards near you who robotically sing along.

    Jez

    September 9, 2009

  13. I agree with Etienne that the Bundesliga’s encouragement for the fans to bellow the scorer’s name works well in Germany e.g. Bastian….SCHWEINSTEIGER, but when Arsenal try it, it just sounds fake – this trend doesn’t work across national boundaries and only sounds good in German. As for music after goals – I agree 100% with the piece – it’s wholly reprehensible. Ditto Jez’s comments about “We are the Champions” being piped out at Wemberlee – strangely fitting for the new corporate stadium.

    Lanterne Rouge

    September 12, 2009

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