Tag: grassroots football

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)