Category: Get Rid!

Listening to Steventon v Hanney 66 from the causeway

Stivetune (xi cent.); Estiventona (xii cent.); Stiveton (xiii cent.); Stivington, Estiventon, Stiventon, Stuvinton, Steveington (xiii cent.); Stephyngton (xvi cent.).

The parish, which contained two tithings, East End and West End, in the 14th and 15th centuries, comprises 2,401 acres. It is in the Vale of the White Horse, where the country gradually ascends from the Thames to the downs, the height varying from 200 ft. above the ordnance datum in the north to 300 ft. in the south, on Steventon Hill. The subsoil is Gault, Upper Greensand and Kimmeridge Clay, the soil cretaceous clay. The principal crops grown are wheat, beans and oats. There are 1,630 acres of arable land, 695 acres of permanent grass and 26 acres of woods and plantations. There were 268 acres of meadow in 1086, and the whole parish appears in 1294 as a large manorial farm, the manor containing 1,500 acres of arable land, 220 acres of meadow, 20 acres of pasture, two dovecotes and poultry worth 67s. 1d.

(from A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1924; quoted in british-history.ac.uk).

 

 

As mentioned in a previous post entitled Listening to Didcot Eagles the fleeting and ephemeral presence of the sounds of grassroots football matches on parish recreation grounds has become an important part of this project. I am fascinated by the way that the sounds of the match brush up against the dominant soundscape, that is, the sounds that through their continued presence are part of the everyday soundscape of the site. Didcot Eagles play at Brightwell Recreation Ground, a playing field at the Southern edge of Brightwell-cum-Sotwell on Mackney Lane. The village has been bypassed and so the sounds of life passing through have now been replaced by the distant white noise of the A4130. Steventon’s home ground is in the North East corner of the village but roads intersect at the South West corner of the green including the B4017 Abingdon Road. There is also sound from the Paddington to Bristol railway line that  lies to the South whilst the A34 is just a couple of fields away to the East and the Milton interchange is nearby. In short, the air in Steventon reverberates with the sounds of transit.

When I arrived for the North Berks League Division Five match against Hanney 66 I parked in the village hall car park and began to explore the surrounding area listening to the shouts of players and coaches. I moved towards the match and away again as I tried to find the boundary of encounter with the sounding presence of the match. At the back of the village hall and to the South of the village green I found a raised causeway, stepped up onto it and began to record:

 

As i began to think about writing this post I did some research about Steventon and discovered that the Causeway I had been standing on was part of a medieval causeway that runs from the church at the South-West edge of the village to the village green and beyond as Milton Lane becomes a track and then a narrow footpath. The football matches played on the green for the last hundred or more years, then, become part of the sounding history of the causeway, part of the evolving soundscape of the village, part of the auditory fabric of the inhabitant’s everyday experiences.

 

I moved along the causeway and began to hear the sounds of an air pump feeding the bouncy castle at the social club:

 

 

 

Walking around the back of the club house I stood at the edge of a small car park and listened as one of the players struggled with a padlock as he tried to get back into the changing rooms. I walked across the green towards a bench situated between the club house and the pitch. I took a seat, changed the batteries in my Edirol and listened to the ebb and flow of the match:

 

Having spent some time on the bench I wandered around the pitch and took up a position on the East side of the village green roughly parallel with the half-way line and spent some time listening to the match. One of the most distinctive aspects of the on pitch communication was the use of Stivvy as an abbreviation of Steventon. this interested me because up until the C16th Steventon had a variety of variants on the name most of which had i as the first vowel rather than the current e including Stivington, Estiventon and Stiventon. Perhaps, then, the abbreviation as heard here is a survival from and earlier iteration of the name of the village:

 

left and right
press left
make sure you come out
it’s going
it’s going
it’s going
get it under
your ball
it’s gone
it’s gone
behind you
turn
turn
turn
to your left
step to your left
there you go
sorry
sorry
it’s good enough
it’s good enough
getting further back here
in here
in here
you’re in
and challenge
challenge then
retain it
square
in the box
time
time
‘ead
great knock
unlucky
time
time
push out
push out
unlucky
good save
well done
right
set again yellow
let’s keep it loud Stivvy
let’s keep talkin’
drop a bit
drop with the kick
let’s call it
let’s turn, let’s turn
man on, man on
track him
get shape then
mark up
tuck ’round, tuck ‘round
man coming
man on
sit on
stand
well done
easy
time
sorry
not now
not now
not now
take him on
let’s go
blue ‘ead
time
unlucky mate
coming in here
squeeze on
no, not in there
in the middle
look for it
go left, go left, go left
drop, drop
winner
well done
stand
stand
stand
drop
good work Stivvy
come on
keep going
press
go on then
drop
man on
ref
ref
unlucky
get shape then
alright
i’ll dummy it for him
who wants it Hanney
drop for the kick
keep dropping
keep dropping
no fouls
take it in
take it in
six yard box
make something of it then Stivvy
drop
Stivvy
work
get your shape
well done
early ball
let’s get on it
shuffle over
shuffle over
option there
man on
let’s hold
hold
through ball
hold the ball
watch that
watch that
stand
no foul
ref
yes
pick him up
away
make him play
make him play
back if you want
there you go
ref
runners
run the ball
good play boys
pick him up
you’re giving him too much space
fucking joke
fucking joke
all the way then Stivvy
stay back
keep it going yellows
it’s not over yet
back in
let’s go again then yellows
tight then yellows
who wants it
time
time
sorry
wide
recover
recover

As the match drew to a close I walked back across the village green and sat on the grass near the club house and bouncy castle. There is an ensemble of sounds here brought together by the presence of the match – the sound of the air pump mingles with the calls and shouts of children; a radio plays music inside the club house; chat at the end of the match; adults sitting at tables talking in lower voices; a buzz of activity; the final whistle.

Listening to the flight of Wood Pigeons at Saxton Rovers

 

One of the strands of Get Rid! has involved investigating the ephemeral nature of the sounding culture of grassroots football – its brief presence in the soundscape of town council parks and playing fields – and considering the sounding moment of each match to be immanent in each of the football pitches I have visited. The pitch was still marked out clearly on this occasion at Saxton Rovers and the goals were stacked near the pavilion at the East end of the field. I could imagine the tread of assistant referees on the stud-marked touchlines; the crack of a post or crossbar as the ball rebounds back into play or the sound of the glancing blow as the ball heads out into touch; the dull thunk as the pegs holding the net in place are withdrawn from the soil; the referee’s whistle; the commands of coaches and players – man on! options! tight! put him under! COME ON!; light applause from the few scattered spectators; a dog barking – wanting to enter the fray and join the game. These sounds are present in the architecture and material content of the site.

I have also been investigating the way that traffic sound impacts on these sites. You can see Saxton Rovers home ground – Caldecott Recreation Field – in the centre of the image above taken from the England Noise Map that shows – in particular – the way that sound from the A415 spreads out across the surrounding fields and floods the river and its banks. Earlier in the Spring I found myself in Abingdon at 6.30am dropping one of my boys at a rowing event. I had nothing to do for several hours and so walked the short distance to Saxton Rovers home and made a recording.

 

What struck me about the soundscape on this occasion was that I could very clearly make out the difference between the early morning sound of the A415 to the East and that of the A34 to the West. The local traffic of Ock Street was also audible and the detail of individual vehicles could be heard. On the Recreation Field itself my attention was drawn to the undulating flight of Wood Pigeons and in particular the sporadic flap of their wings as they did the bare minimum to stay airborne.

 

Don’t panic up there…


(Photo: Steven Matthews)
 

In April I travelled to Grasmere with poet and football coach Steven Matthews to investigate the soundscape of locations that relate to the poetry and life of William Wordsworth. After spending an afternoon at Greenhead Gill recording the sounds of fast flowing water – the tumultuous brook of Wordsworth’s Michael, a pastoral poem (1800) – we headed to Hillard Park the home of Ambleside United to see their reserves host AFC Carlisle in the Westmorland Association Football League Division Three. As soon as we parked up on Under Loughrigg – the lane that runs along the course of the River Rothay as it heads South towards Windermere – we could hear the sounds of the game. We crossed the river and I stopped to listen to the shouts and commands of the players and coaches as they blended with the babble of the flowing water, the distant vibrations of air-traffic, occasional cars on the lane and birdsong. The sounds of the match are only audible as play moves towards us at the Northern end of the ground. The sound of the ball being struck is distinctive and cuts across the sound of the river:

 

Steven walked on and headed up the bank at the Northern edge of the pitch and I stopped again to listen. Further away from the river now the soundscape is less consistent with the flowing water just a light white noise. The shouts of the players counterpoint  the calls of birds in the low shrubs and children playing on the other side of the park. The thud of the ball can be heard in more detail now and with less uniformity. The dull bird-scaring slap of the goalkeepers kick is joined by lighter sounds – headers and the occasional deft touch perhaps:

 

We took up a position behind the goal and watched the last twenty minutes of the second half:

 

 

ooh bit wild
head up yellas
keep working, keep working
tight on nine
tight on ten
nice and tight
big head
well up
come on
…and again seconds
well in
cover him, cover him, cover him
well done
yellow ball
well done
take it easy boys
talk to him
keep talking, keep talking
come on
come on lads don’t panic up there
try to get it on the deck lads
encourage, encourage
we’re too deep there
left shoulder – left shoulder
yellow, yellow, yellow, yellow, yellow
one on one
switch on eh
keep your discipline man
how many
how many do you want
four or five
one more, one more
sorry
one more, one more, one more, one more
get in the wall
do you want me in or not
yes, i want you in
catch it
away
keep it organised
off you go, off you go
left back, left back
go left back, go left back
don’t foul, don’t foul
sorry
get off it
well back there mate
I said two
then I said three
it’s gone, it’s gone, it’s gone, it’s gone
let’s talk about it
who’s on eleven there
eleven
well in lad
get it under control yellas
get it won lads
that’s much better
half way
get ‘em up
time
square ball there mate
one there
follow in
don’t be scared to ask for the square ball mate
I said three then I needed four
turn and face lads
keep going
come on
boys, boys
hey
keep hold of it
ten minute warm up
good ten minute warm up
good ten minutes
get the quality
big head
well up
possession
squeeze up
too deep
back in, back in, back in
move, move, move
come home if you want
turn out
go, go, go, go, go, go, go
great movement lads
half way lads
that’s quality movement that mate well done
keep working lads
big ‘ead
clean win on that lads
clean winner
backs to goal
there’s no need for that
are you going ten or nine
put it in there
big ‘ead
push in the back
get out – get out
fouling
free-kick
let’s stop these fouls boys
big ‘ead
listen, listen, listen
…and again
gotta be hooked
that’s quality there
seven to go
you have it
making a meal of it
squeeze out
you’ve gotta get that
brilliant
have a winner
come away with that
stand up there
open your body
don’t foul him
push on there
five yards in front
step out
big squeeze
step out
get him offside
offside
he’s off, he’s off
no foul
that’s quality mate well done
left shoulder
you sit on his toes
win, win, win
talk to him
keep him out there
organise then,
organise, organise
I’ve got nine, i’ve got nine, i’ve got nine
you go ten
edge of the box
let’s win it all boys, win it all, win it all
hit it
deal with it
free header man
be responsible
come on
come on lads
well done
let’s keep it going
keep it up, keep it up
keep it up boys
out left, out left
quick out left
it’s gone
organise
hey, centre halves
big squeeze
who’s up
time, time, TIME!
winner
well done fellas
keep going
keep talking
last four
get ‘em fired up again
edge of the box no further
challenge
slightest touch
BIG HEAD!
big ‘ead
well done mate
defence
hey
squeeze
nine and ten lads
nine and ten
wake up
someone’s gotta want it
hard lines mate
good spell yellas, come on, keep it going
voices again
keep it going
play to the whistle lads
keep going
keep fighting
keep battling in there
well in
keep running
boys, boys
and again
close the gap
man on, man on
get it under
well done mate
left back, left back, left back
out left
good skill that
find the space, find the space
turn and face
left shoulder
what’s that for
every fucking time
free kick to them
fucking fouls constantly
on the head boys
nice and tight there
tighter
HEY!
BIG ‘EAD!
and again
second ball boys
good battling that lad
goal-side
if you need
get out
walk out
start to walk out
get ‘em out
referee
you have to switch on boys
whip it
hey
same men, same men
that’s working, that’s working
back stick
away
well done wall
brilliant lads that’s quality well done

ebb and flow

 
The soundscape at the Sutton Courtenay Recreation Ground – home of Sutton Courtenay FC – is dominated by traffic noise from the A34, A4130 and the Milton Interchange. There is birdsong from nearby hedgerows and poplars; and occasional air traffic that activates the air with slowly phasing vibrations. Didcot Power Station stands to the South of the village. As part of Get Rid! I have been visiting football pitches and making recordings of the sound of football not happening – the sound of the absence of football. I made this recording on a visit to the Recreation Ground in March:

 

 

 
One evening – several weeks later – I headed back to see Sutton Courtenay FC take on Westminster in the North Berks League Division two. During the second half I stood behind the Westminster goal on the South side of the park. Amongst the first sounds that can be heard in the recording are those of a penalty being converted – the thump as the ball is struck; the crack as the ball hits the back of the net – followed by sporadic applause. The sound of the ball being struck is thunderous at times and travels farther than any other sounds of the game – like a bird-scarer or gunshot. As the play moves towards and away from the Westminster goal the sound of boots striking the ball is a constant.

What interests me about the experience of listening to the game from behind the goal is the ebb and flow of the sound as the focus of the game moves from end to end. As the play approaches the westminster goal the listener’s attention is drawn away from the soundscape of tyres on asphalt, birdsong and vibrating air to the shouts of the players. The waves of activity bring sound with them and take it away again. This is mobile sound-making. As the play moves away from the Westminster goal the voices of the players begin to articulate the space of the pitch as their commands bounce off the walls of the pavilion and spill out into the surrounding lanes and fields:

 

follow it in
everybody out then fellas
follow it in
fella what’s happening
Well done
Come on then
Fucking heads up
come on then all of us
go again, go again
Keep playing
win it back
fucking straight in son
go on son
let’s go again then son
wide
wide
help him out
time, time
shape
hold
switch on
down ‘ere
man on
back, come back
get up, get up, get up
man on
one of you
down the line
wide
OH!
well done, well done
get back, get back
head up
watch your back, watch your back
out, get out
and again, and again
away
up, up
man on
switch
feet
ref
go on, go on
stay there
working now
fucking hell
time, time
man on
man on, man on
go on mate
hold him up
how are you doing
well done
short, short,
wake up, wake up
do it early
coming in
round the back
away
good ball
now
one of you
up then, up then
eighteen, eighteen
good well done
well done
walking
watch that midfield
early, early
eighteen
up, up
calm it down
seven
early
four
are you going with four?
runners
pull out, pull out
put a name on it
well done
settle, settle, settle
don’t dive in, don’t dive in
ref
do it early, do it early
turn, turn
i’ll have it again, i’ll have it again
hold him, hold him,
shoulder, shoulder
let it go
settle down a little bit eh
a little bit yeah
talk him in, talk him in
hey reds come on, sharpen up, you’ve gone off it
alright, alright
squeeze, squeeze ‘em up
get hold, get hold
alright
I’m behind you, I’m behind
half way, half way fella
don’t foul, don’t foul
settle, settle
our ball
do it early
around you
yes, in here
come on boys all the way
get up, get up
stand ‘im, stand
well done
well done
well done
man on, man on
one-two, one-two
man on
if you want
touch it away, touch it away
leave, leave
square
hey, hey, hey
time, time
mark him
head
away
left back
one, one
in it comes
eighteen
up, up
stay on your toes
don’t dive in
channels
if you need, if you need, if you need
feet
middle
ref
yeah
ref
okay
stay back
played fellas
well done fellas
good job in there yeah
to him
out we go, out we go
push wide
push up then boys
do it early
time, time

Marking the lines at the Bullcroft Playing Field (over and over and over…)

I have already written once about marking out pitches. On that occasion I wrote about marking out an eleven-a-side pitch on the Bullcroft Playing Field. For most of this season I have been marking out the pitch at St.Georges Field but this week I returned to the Bullcroft as one of the teams that I coach has a match there in a week or so and the lines were beginning to fade. I’ve been looking into the history of the Bullcroft as a site of football and there was certainly football being played there in the early part of the C20th. This aerial photograph was taken in May 1928 with a match in progress and there is some evidence that there was an organised football club in Wallingford as early as 1881.


(source: http://www.britainfromabove.org.uk/image/epw024730)

The ephemeral sounds activated by the painting of the white lines whilst being elusive appear to have been heard on this site for at least the last ninety-seven years and probably more. For much of that period some kind of wheeled appliance would have been used although lines were also painted manually. The pitch that can be seen in the bottom left of the photograph is further South than the present pitch but occupies the same part of the Playing Field.

On the occasion that I made these recordings I was struggling with the padlock on the back gate of the pavilion where I usually exit with the line-marker. I couldn’t open the padlock and so decided to wheel the marker through the pavilion and out of the front entrance.

 

As I began to make the lines the wheels were stuck so I moved the marker backwards and forwards to try to free them until giving in to the inevitable and turning the wheels manually until they became looser – covering my hands in paint in the process.

Listening to the A34 from Drayton FC and Milton United

 

The two images in this post are taken from the English Noise map Viewer that can be found here. There is a key for the map indicating the average decibel levels represented by the overlaid colours at the end of this post.

The A34 runs from Salford to Winchester. The Southern leg of the road cuts through Oxfordshire from North to South. The soundscape at Drayton FC to the East and Milton United FC to the West of the road is dominated by the sound of the internal combustion engine; the resonating tarmac; and the rattle of trailers and trucks . Drayton FC play in the North Berks League and their pitch is on the South-West edge of the village. The centre circle is 175m East of the A34. If you stand in the centre-circle – where this recording was made – there are benchless breeze block dugouts; a line of low trees; and an electricity pylon that stands in the  field between the pitch and the road. The embankment of the A34 rises above the field and the sounds of the road flood down the embankment and saturate the surrounding area with a band of consistent high frequency noise. The rattle of trucks; the phasing of tyres on asphalt as they approach and depart; the liquid drone of the road – these are the sounds that dominate the listener’s attention.

 

 

Milton United FC play at Milton Heights which sits above the Milton interchange of the A34. I made this recording from the centre circle of one of the two pitches on the site which is 370m South-West of the A34. The sound here differs radically from that at Drayton. There is more local detail and a more varied frequency range. There is a sense that we are listening to sounds from farther afield – that this is an auditory vantage point. If I turn my head to the South I can hear the road as a high frequency drone – a more distant sound; if I turn to the North-East I can hear a more complex sound – a greater range of frequencies that includes vehicles slowing and braking as they exit the A34. There are sounds that are closer by too – trucks sit in the lane that leads to Milton Heights; the president of the club is painting white lines and at times we can hear this as the wheels of the line marker work against each other and the paint moves from wheel to wheel before it makes contact with the grass.

 

The key below is taken from the Extrium English Noise Map Viewer:

Listening to Didcot Eagles

 

 

The fleeting and ephemeral presence of grassroots football matches on rural recreation grounds has become an obsession during the development of Get Rid! The recordings in this post were made in Brightwell-cum-Sotwell during the match between Didcot Eagles and Marcham Reserves in the North Berks League Division Five. Didcot Eagles featured in the previous post Presence and absence at Brightwell Recreation Ground alongside recordings of a match taking place and a match not taking place. In another post I considered the ephemeral nature of the soundscape within any given match – the tendency for the sounding presence of the match to arrive and depart like a series of waves with sound-making concentrated around crucial moments in the game.

These recordings were made as I walked towards and then arrived at the Rec. I have written elsewhere about the moment at which we first become aware of a sound – the boundary of encounter – in particular when spending time in the marshes around Aldeburgh recording sounds for a project the Swimmer developed with Roma Tearne:

Standing in the marshes, microphone in hand, headphones on I am thinking about the point at which we first meet a sound, where we first become aware of it – the boundary of encounter.  As I walk towards the beach I become aware of the white noise of waves on shingle.  How long have I been able to hear this? I retrace my steps.  I can’t hear it now.  I step forward;  one step, two steps. There it is  – faint but present.

 

Standing in the lane 
The variable presence of the sounds of any football match mean that the boundary is constantly moving – striking out into the surrounding fields and lanes as a firm command is given and then shrinking away as the game stalls. I first became aware of Didcot Eagles v Marcham Reserves as I walked along the lane next to the Red Lion Pub and stopped to listen and make a recording:

 

On the path next to the allotments
I began to walk down the path next to the allotments and stopped to listen again as the on-pitch voices began to become more audible. I was the only person present at that time. As I stood still and listened there was a balance between the on-pitch sounds of the match and birdsong in the surrounding shrubs and trees:

 

Near the stream
As the path leaves the allotments behind there is a copse of recently planted trees and the path then leads to a bridge of split logs that crosses a small stream. I paused just before the stream and recorded again. This time the on-pitch communication was much clearer. I arrived at this point just as there was a pause in play – perhaps a lost ball or a contentious decision – there was a lot of talk directed at the referee. Whatever the case, the game was static, inactive. After a couple of minutes of this the game began to move again articulating the dimensions of the pitch beyond the stream and the screen of trees at the edge of the Rec. As the play moved from end to end and the on-pitch communication followed the ball I began to get a sense of the space the game was taking place in:

 

Sitting on the bench
I crossed the stream, walked out onto the Rec and sat down on one of the benches. On pitch communication was very vocal at this stage. In addition to this several families with young children were playing on the swings, slide and climbing frame.

 

get out, get out
all up chaps
press him
that’s a foul
hey
ref
well done lino
shut down
shut him down
come on boys
What the fucking hell
It’s gotta be said
he weren’t offside
let’s talk yeah
talk to each other
come on son
you’re on, you’re on
ref, ref
short
give it
how long have we got?
I want to go and have a beer
can you do ‘im
stay up, stay up
floor
away
boys
help ‘im
time
hit it
go wide man
time, time, time
hey
unlucky
come on
come on then boys
press that!
good touch
eh, well done lads
boys, you need to fucking mark a man
joking
coming in
get out
GET OUT!
out
back
man on, man on
you’re not going to do another one like that
and you had a shot
you cannot say nothing
he’d have blown up
winner
oh referee
ref
what’s it for ref
ref
how far are you going?
it wasn’t there
stick it go on
back in
BACK IN!
win that
and again
go on
well done
time
touch it, touch it
hey
two ‘ere
scrappy
time, time
travel
NO!
REF!
He weren’t even offside
behind him ref
every time
all of us, yeah
overlap
superb
ref
ref
ref
ref
two ‘ere
out wide
deliver
back ‘I’m up
our ball
penalty
ref
he didn’t touch me
winner
LET’S GO!
don’t fucking lose it
how long ref?
about sixteen?
How long?
sixteen?
sixteen?
hand ball!
fucking great
middle, middle, middle…

 

 

Standing close to the pitch
As the match finished I walked East across the Rec and paused to make a final recording as the home team dismantled the goals and talked about the match. The children continued to play and spilt out onto the pitch as the presence of the game waned:

 

 

Get out! Get out! Get out!

As mentioned in previous posts the parameters  of Get Rid! are under development. As part of the process of investigation into the sounding cultures of grassroots football I have begun to visit each of the match day venues of the teams in all five divisions of the North Berks League – a total of fifty-one teams for the 2016-2017 season. This number  does include multiple teams from the same club. Wallingford Town – for example – have three teams – First in Division One; Reserves in Division Three; and A in Division Five. As you would expect venues are shared or pitches are adjacent. In total it looks like there will be around thirty-four venues in use this season. My recording process at present involves visting each of these venues during a match and at a time when there isn’t a match. At this stage I am making relatively brief recordings so that I can begin to understand the soundscape. It is likely that I will make much longer recordings later in the process.

 

The two  recordings here were made at the Hithercroft home of Wallingford Town AFC and were both made in the same location behind and slightly to the right of the goal at the South end of the stadium. The first recording was made during the second half of Wallingford Town AFC reserves v Watlington Town FC. For the duration of the recording Watlington exerted almost continuous pressure on the Wallingford goal which I was only metres away from. As the action moves toward or away from my position the voices of the players emerge from or are submerged by the sounds of the by-pass; the high frequency sounds of the wind in the grasses; and the air conditioning system of the industrial unit to my right. In this recording I began to get a sense of the resonant qualities of the stadium as the voices of players rebounded from the stand and low-level building on the West side of the pitch. There is a partial transcription of the on-pitch communication below.

 

head, head, head
good lad
yeah
it’s off
are you fucked, i’m on the line, oh my…
back in
(laughs)
keep working
well done
one more
header
space, space, space
time
ref, ref, ref
relax
OI!
pass it
passing
free ‘ead, free ‘ead, free ‘ead
one more
and again
round the back
time
let’s go, let’s keep walking up towards them
get out, get out, get out
centre half’s on
man on
‘ead
unlucky
sixteen
seconds
boys!
‘ead, ‘ead
no deeper
get out!
head, head, head, head, head
hold that, hold that, hold that
(partial transcription of on-pitch communication at Wallingford Town AFC reserves v Watlington Town)

 

I returned to the same spot later in the week and made a recording in the absence of football. I could hear a lot more detail in the sound of the surrounding network of roads with clear distinction between vehicles travelling quickly on the bypass and those moving more slowly on Hithercroft Road. There was sound from air-conditioning and occasional release of air pressure from the adjacent industrial units; more distinct birdsong and air traffic. The fence behind the goal is a complex construction and there is some twine in one place the end of which occasionally strikes one of the metal uprights.

 

 

 

You can find out more about the North Berks League here. Of particular interest is the geographic spread of the competing teams. Participants need to be within twenty miles of Steventon Green – a playing field at the centre of Steventon – a village around four miles West of Didcot. Given this geographical limitation it is likely that the main sound-making features of the region – in particular the A34 and its tributaries – will have a major impact on the soundscape in each of these locations. There may be common traits in the wildlife of the area too. For example I have seen Red Kites at four of the venues I have recorded at but haven’t yet heard their call.

 

Black bags at the pavilion

 

As a committee member of a local youth football club I sometimes find myself assisting with clearing up the pavilion at the Bullcroft Playing Field in Wallingford – one of our venues. The pavilion is a timber-clad building which must have been constructed in the twenties or thirties. There is often talk about refurbishing it or replacing it but this is usually accompanied by discussion of the alleged status of the Bullcroft Playing Field as a scheduled monument as – at some stage in the C12th when Wallingford was a major centre – there was a priory here. There have been several archaeological explorations on the site but no conclusive evidence has been found to my knowledge but then I’ve never been to Wallingford Museum… What you can see on the site are Anglo-Saxon earthworks which are visible on the North and East perimeter and one of the pitches is just below these creating a natural North Bank for spectators.

When clearing out the pavilion we have been discarding the containers that the line-marking paint arrives in. This is a recording of me crushing the containers and putting them in black bags for disposal.

Hey, why aren’t we talking about who we’re picking up? Who are we picking up?

 

Grassroots football is  a game of variable intensity; of noise and silence; presence and absence; activity and inactivity. Substitutions are made; the ball takes a wild deflection and disappears into a garden followed by a player who climbs into the undergrowth to retrieve it; a free-kick is given and the game stalls; there’s an injury and the players stand around in small groups talking or looking at the ground. Then the game explodes with a high tackle; a controversial decision from the ref; a counter-attack; a coach barely able to prevent himself from running onto the pitch and who instead ends up kicking the dugout. The action comes in waves. The sound builds then recedes.

The quality that football pitches have as sites of presence and absence – of sound heard and sound imagined – is discussed in a previous post and will be discussed further as Get Rid! develops. This post concentrates on the presence, absence and qualities of the sounding events during two particular matches.

To listen to this recent recording of the match at Wallingford’s Hithercroft stadium in which they took on Berinsfield – leaders of the North Berks League Division One – is to experience an ephemeral and fragile soundscape. The sounding presence of the match is at times indicated by intense verbal activity whilst at other times there is little evidence of it at all. At these times of absence the sound of game-time activity – rather than being projected beyond the physical bounds of the players and the playing area – becomes localised. The sounds are denied to the spectator as they dissipate between the source and the listener: the sound of studs making small depressions in the soft surface; the sleeves of shirts brushing against the body; players catching their breath. There were times during the match when there was a real intensity in the communication between players, coaches and match officials; and times when those sounds were absent or indistinct and instead the ear was drawn to the conversations of small groups of spectators; the sound of a toddler exploring the stands; the sound of fast-moving cars on the bypass; and of birdsong. This variance in intensity of game-time communication may – on this occasion – result from the stage of the match as the recording was made in the last twenty minutes with the result already decided; or it may be the particular nature of these squads – perhaps they are not big talkers; or perhaps this ebb and flow is part of the syntax of the game.

 

 

Game-time communication in the match between Dorchester and Hungerford Town FC Swifts – who were the most vocal of the two sides – from the North Berks League Division Two was consistently intense despite one of the sides being several goals clear when the recording was made. I made this recording from behind one of the goals and the goalkeeper was vocal in instructing his defenders and encouraging the team. The culture of the squad was clearly predicated on a lot of talking – there was a sense that every action required an instruction – free header – and an assessment – tell you what, another lucky one, tell you what, we’re shocking at defending corners. A player making a forward run; an adventurous goal attempt; defensive positioning when in possession and out of possession – all of these activities were commented on. Perhaps this emanates from the methods of the coach or the way that training is conducted. Whatever the case the game-time soundscape provides an alternative behaviour to that recorded at Wallingford; one in which there is an almost constant chatter of instructional and reactive commentary.

 

 

come on
playing, playing
stand him up
get out boys
too deep, too deep
unlucky, unlucky
free ‘ead, free ‘ead, free ‘ead
man on
stay high, stay high
now drop
eh, come on let’s keep working
number eleven
get out, get out
stand, stand
help him
walk it up
lino, lino, sub please
well done
well done son
two touch two touch
fucking hell
movement
lino, lino
Hey, settle, settle
drop off
stand up
watch the flick
come on
put a challenge in there
cheers mate
just hold it
come on, gee it up, piss poor
free header, free header
left should, left shoulder
well done
and again
middle
leave
hey, we’ve all gone to sleep out here
superb
stay high, stay high
winners, winners
keep playing
hey shush come on let’s think about this now
hey boys let’s wake up come on
just do it
now we get up
all of us, come on, work
travel
time, time, good lad
ref
you going to kick the ball away every time it goes out are we
man-a-piece, man-a-piece
hold, hold
help ‘im, help ‘im
unlucky
middle
stand still
get it out
deliver
one more
leave, leave
ref, we’re just going to swap linesmen
no free headers in there
fucking compete
no free header boys, no free header
attack the ball
winners boys, winners boys come on
away
fucks sake
stand up, stand up stand up
get out
play it
drive
lob ‘im, lob ‘im
tell you what, another lucky one, tell you what, we’re shocking at defending corners
send it back and the second ball
get rid
time
channel
quick, quick
man-a-piece
man on, man on, man on
right shoulder, right shoulder
Fucking cunt
Can we keep the fucking ball?
we don’t want that
well done
that’s alright, that’s alright son, head up
stay organised
let’s attack this ball blues
ref, ref, ref
hey, why aren’t we talking about who we’re picking up? who are we picking up?
stay tight to your men, that’s good tight
and again, same again
concentrate, concentrate
get out, get out, get out
want it, get some chalk on your boots
travel, travel
good area, unlucky, that’s unlucky, good area
come on blues, let’s keep working
get that ball down
come on boys
feet
time
that’s handball ref
great save
let’s have a blue win this time
let’s compete in the air
man on
good boy
free header, free header
stand him up, stand him up Jack
unlucky
get out get out
time, time
good area
that’s great ball
can you do him, go on son
ref
hey come on
ref
ref, ref, ref, come over here for me
nice goal
don’t switch off
last ten, hundred percent, come on
come on ref
come on ref
give us the width out there
seconds, seconds
far too easy
ref
walk it out, walk it out when we can
great ball, great ball
track him, track him
hold, hold
time
tight, tighter
stay here, stay here
get rid, GET RID!
switch it
time
ref, referee
two touch, two touch
well done
get out
seconds, seconds

 

(partial transcription of on-pitch communication Dorchester v Hungerford Town FC Swifts 28.02.2017)