Tag: grassroots football

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 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:

 

 

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)

 

 

 

Presence and absence at Brightwell Recreation Ground

The parameters for Get Rid! and my approach to collecting sounds for the project have developed over the last eighteen months or so. At first I imagined that I would largely document my experience of coaching youth football as it somehow seemed curious to have an area of my life – so rich in sounding material – that was entirely devoid of field recording activity. However, it was only when I started to think about broadening my approach to include my wider experiences of grassroots football that I began to see how this could work. I began to explore the five divisions of the North Berks Football League taking my boys to matches. The exploration began with Wallingford Town FC who are in the First Division and have what looks and feels like a stadium including a tuck shop which is always a bonus on a damp Saturday afternoon in October. One such afternoon we headed off to see the second half of Wallingford’s match v East Hendred. We walked from our house down to Brightwell Recreation ground with a view to cutting across the fields to Wallingford. When we reached the Rec there was a match in progress. I had no way of identifying the teams immediately but investigated later and found that this was the home of Didcot Eagles who play in the North Berks League Division Five. On this occasion they were taking on Steventon Reserves. As the boys walked on towards Wallingford I paused for a couple of minutes by the corner flag and made a recording with my Edirol R-09HR. What immediately struck me was the verbal sound culture of the event – the game time dialect of grassroots footballers – man on; get rid; options; REF!  It was almost like sifting through the contents of a sonic time capsule with each phrase taking me back to a past football match; to the mud-clogged fields of Mid-Devon; to our coach screaming – YOU’VE ALL GONE QUIET! As I listened I began to think of possible explorations of regional varieties or even varieties of game time dialect that might exist between the different divisions of the North Berks League.

 

ref
now get out
up we go, up we go
get ‘im in,
everyone on a man boys
it’s coming
working ‘ard
mate yeah
got one in then, yeah
seconds, seconds
pressure
e don’t want that
options boys
go on take that
2 v 1, two of you
our ball, our ball
stay in there, stay in there mate
yeah
man on now, man on now
pressure
whip it in
and again, and again
linesman
ref
well done mate, yeah
time

(partial transcription of Didcot Eagles v Steventon 29.10.2016)

 

Having established that the rec was the home of Didcot Eagles I looked up future fixtures and so later in December I took the short walk to the Rec to see the last few minutes of Didcot Eagles v Grove Rangers. As I walked down Mackney Lane I was expecting to begin to encounter the sound of the game as it bled into the surrounding countryside and travelled across the woodland towards me – but instead I only sensed absence. There were no shouts of man on, no options or LINO! The boundary of encounter with the expected sounding events remained elusive. As I turned into the recreation ground the reason for this became clear – there was no match. The Rec was empty except for some children fighting with sticks and a few dog walkers. I walked over to the pitch looking for evidence of recent action. The white lines looked recently painted and the goalmouths were muddy but whether or not the match had taken place at an earlier time that day I couldn’t be sure. The goalposts were neatly stacked against the pavilion and there was no sign of the nets. I leant against a railing and recorded the situation with my Edirol R-09-HR and imagined the sound of the ball being struck; of players shouting instructions and their voices bouncing off the flat surfaces of the pavilion and back onto the pitch; of the referee’s whistle; and the frustrated exclamations of the coach. In the absence of these sounds the ear was drawn to the wider soundscape – distant tyres on the asphalt of the bypass; the air vibrating with the movement of the rotary blades of helicopters from RAF Benson; the conversations of dog walkers; and the chatter of children in the play park.

 

 

Read more about Get Rid! here.

Get Rid! or Cultures of Sound in Grassroots Football

Get Rid! or Cultures of Sound in Grassroots Football is a project that has grown out of my engagement with grassroots football in Oxfordshire. Without a particular plan or framework in mind I will be making sound recordings of my experiences as a youth team coach; as a spectator at matches in the North Berks or other local grassroots adult leagues; as a groundsman marking out pitches; and as a member of a club committee. Grassroots Football refers to football played by amateur football clubs at youth and adult level so I won’t be visiting Didcot Town any time soon – other than for entertainment – as they are too far up the league pyramid.

Since I began making recordings for this project – and as noted above there has been no particular pattern at play – one of the most notable aspects of the experience has been the verbal culture of communication between players, coaches, officials and – when present – spectators. I am fascinated by the transformation of quiet parish council run local parks into sites of conflict and exuberant communication during the matches I have listened to.

This recording was made during the North Berks League Division Four match between Long Wittenham Athletic Reserves and Berinsfield Reserves (07.01.2017). I was driving through Long Wittenham and noticed the match taking place. I didn’t have my sound recorder to hand so had to make do with my iPhone 5s so there isn’t as much depth in the recording as I would have liked. Just before we arrived Berinsfield scored and Long Wittenham were under pressure while I was making this recording.There is a partial transcription below that provides a taste of the on pitch verbal culture accompanied by teenagers on the nearby swings discussing earlier matches in the FA Cup Third Round.

 

put ‘im under
time
options
send it back, send it back
AJ’s there
away again
options
it’s off…it’s off                      (go on)
get rid, get rid
come on lino
well played
use ‘im
                                              (John Stones scored it, no, do you know why, do you know what
back in then                          (5-0, 5-0)
mark up
                                              (Sterling)
hold, hold
good touch
AJ
away it goes…away it goes
man on, man on
keep on, keep on, keep on
let ‘im come, let ‘im come
who wants it
header
free ‘ead, free ‘ead
get round, get round
stick the man under
will’s there, will’s there
touch…touch,
ah, fuck off
unlucky, unlucky boys
yes
good ball
time Rob, time Rob
listen
options
away
ref, ref
(m)idfield, come on
good football
unlucky
well done
if you need
options…options
still ‘ere
one more
inside
nick that
one of you in the middle here
shield it out
it’s gone…it’s gone (it’s gone)
unlucky
Callum stay up, Callum stay up, stay up
quick…and back
stand there…, stand there…, stand there…
time
use ‘im
midfield, over
options
man on
on your right (on your right)
line, line
turn
Michael, Michael
handball
one more, one more
time
this way
away Andy
do ‘im, do ‘im
time
Rob, Rob, yes then, Rob
go on then
put it across then
unlucky
well done
kick ‘im Rob
midfield…midfield
yes, callum
yes, AJ
well done
keep going, keep going, keep going
spare man in the box
someone help ‘im
man on
Paul Whitty (2017)