Are You Singing Anymore..?
Has the County Ground been too quiet recently? Well… ‘GL5 Arkells Stand’ believes it is and he asks what are we about to do about it..?
Does anyone remember the night of Tuesday 22nd October 2013? It’s no big surprise if you don’t as it was the evening that we lost by three goals to one as hosts to a slick, pacy Walsall side, when our own passing game completely unravelled. It was a pretty forgettable match from our point of view.
The reason that I haven’t forgotten the game was that a few of us were sat in The Arkells Stand and someone mentioned how flat the atmosphere was – and in-keeping with what was occurring on the pitch, the Swindon support was muted that night. There were a couple of half-hearted “Come on you reds!” but that was about it.
The conversation went along the lines that players and supporters alike always talk about making your home ground a fortress and creating an intimidating atmosphere. But the fact is today, at most grounds, things can be pretty quiet – and we’re no different when it comes to that – and yes I do realise the irony of me saying that after having said that I sit in the usually sleepy Arkells Stand…
There are times when our support is loud. These have been in the big games that we’ve had in recent seasons such as versus Wigan Athletic, Aston Villa and Chelsea. The County Ground has also been ‘rocking’ when we play local rivals like Bristol City or Oxford Utd when there is added volume and spice to the singing, which must inspire the players.
However in recent seasons the atmosphere that I remember most was when we played Crawley at home when we were in League Two. The game started fairly quietly, but after a few minutes there was a challenge in front of the dugouts and the universally despised Steve Evans tried his usual trick of wobbling out of the dugout to try to get an opponent sent off. The thing was, the Town fans were already more than aware of this tactic, since he’d used it to get Jonathan Douglas sent off in the previous season’s FA Cup tie. There was a howl of rage that went round the ground that night and for the rest of the game. The County Ground really was like a bear pit – the singing from the Town End and the Don Rogers was constant and even the Arkells were in fine voice. It was an intimidating atmosphere and Evans soon disappeared from his technical area and spent most of the match wedged into his dugout – because when he was in sight, he was being told in no uncertain terms that “He knew what he was”, with the confirmation of ‘what he was’ probably being extremely libellous (at least in part).
That game ended in a three goals to one Town victory and I am as certain as I can be that the crowd that night were a contributory factor in the manner of the victory. We came out of the ground that night talking amongst ourselves and asking why it wasn’t always like that? The crowd that night had been a decent size, but it wasn’t that different from most of the attendances we got that season – it was just that we, the fans, were ‘up for it’.
Given that being vocal in our support must surely help the players, why aren’t we up for it more often? After all, everyone that I know will come out of the County Ground when it has been rocking and say how brilliant it was and how much they enjoyed it. Most people, young and old, enjoy singing and getting behind the team, so why isn’t every game a ‘Crawley’?
Well…first of all, the boring logical bit – every game isn’t the same because sometimes there are things that happen which gets everyone up for it – on that occasion, it was the pantomime villain, Steve Evans, who provided the catalyst. For normal games the fact is that it actually has to be enjoyable to sing – and maybe that is the current problem at many clubs, not just Swindon – that the current crop of football songs are all a bit boring.
Think about it for a moment: What are the songs that we sing?
1: Come on you reds
2: Oh when the reds going steaming in
3: Falling in love with you
4: Anti-Oxford songs
5: Anything that fits in with the tune of the Beach Boys’ Sloop John B
That’s about it isn’t it?
Number one is fair enough, though it does do my head in when we insist upon singing it when we’re away from home and not playing in red. We even bl00dy sing it when the opposition are the ones playing in red (like away at Charlton in the 2nd leg of the 2010 Play-Off Semi Finals).
Number two is sung slowly, building up to a crescendo. It’s okay, but let’s be honest, we’ve stolen that version off of Spurs haven’t we (not that we’re the only ones – everyone else does it too).
Number three is a tough one. I must admit, I do like the song, but again, it’s not really ours is it? I believe that it is actually a Sunderland song originally, but it seems to be sung by the fans of quite a few Northern clubs – but now even MK Dons have started singing it, isn’t it time to ditch it?
Number four…carry on.
Number five, every club is doing it. Get some words and see if you can fit them into the chorus of Sloop John B. Enough! There are other tunes!
There are clubs who have songs specific to them – Liverpool have several excellent ones, You’ll Never Walk Alone, Little Scouser Tommy & The Fields Of Anfield Road. Birmingham have ‘Keep Right On To The End Of The Road’. Man City have ‘Blue Moon’. Portsmouth have the ‘Pompey Chimes’. West Ham have ‘I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles’. Newcastle have ‘The Blaydon Races’. There are others as well – not all of them as good and frankly, some of them pretty terrible. Goodnight Irene and On The Ball City from Bristol Rovers and Norwich respectively being cases in point. But the fact is they are songs unique to that club, with the fans growing up with those songs and knowing them. The moment any of those songs begin the fans all join in because that song is their club’s song; and it is something that identifies them as different, individual and not just a clone.
When Town were at Coventry and their fans started up a rendition of “All Sing Together” and we all countered with “You’ve only got one song!” – with the irony being that we haven’t even got one (not of our own anyway).
Remember Wembley 2010 against Millwall? Remember how difficult it was trying to get the atmosphere really going at our end because of the awful acoustics there? Millwall didn’t struggle did they? They were belting out “No One Likes Us!” no problem at all – and to prove the point that a song doesn’t need to be clever or tuneful to be effective, that Lion’s Roar thing that they do (the droning, prolonged “Miiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiillllllllllllllllllllllllllwwwwwwwwwwwaallllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll!!” was an intimidating wall of noise that you could almost physically feel at our end of the ground.
So do we want to do anything about it or do you think I’m wrong?
I was talking to a Liverpool fan (a real one who actually goes) on holiday last year and he was telling me that a while back, when the atmosphere at Anfield was slowly declining, a few Liverpool fans got together and started printing up song sheets. These were some of the old, forgotten songs that they used to sing and also some of the ideas that they’d had for new songs. That was how they’d got ‘The Fields Of Anfield Road’ going. When they signed players like Fernando Torres & Luis Suarez, there would be people out the back of the Kop and Anfield Road End on matchdays handing out songsheets and that’s how they got those songs going (songs which have been copied by all of the other clubs’ fans now). Couldn’t we do that?
I’m not trying to set myself up as some kind of ‘song expert’ here and saying we should be singing this or that – I’m just wondering whether we could come up with our own club song that would set us aside from everyone else in years to come. A song that could be sung by our kids, our grandchildren and our great grandchildren. A song that, when it was heard by football fans anywhere, would make them think, “That’s Swindon!”