Travel! [#8] Oving Villages Cup Final and the sounding archaeology of goalkeeper’s studs on goalposts

In the first six Travel! posts I explored the close-season soundscape of football pitches on the route between Brightwell-cum-Sotwell and Winslow. You can find out more here. During 2017-2018 I have returned to some of the pitches to experience the sounding presence of football happening.

The Oving & District Villages’ Cup Competition affiliated to the Berk & Bucks FA was founded in 1889 and since 1892 the final of the competition has taken place at Oving Recreation Ground. I visited the Recreation Ground in July last year and listened to the sound of football not happening. You can find out more about that here.

It had always been my intention to return to the grounds that I had visited on the route between Brightwell-cum-Sotwell and Winslow and experience football taking place but somehow the season almost seems to be at an end and the fixtures are running out. I was casting about for potential fixtures to attend when by chance I came across the Oving Villages Cup Final between Long Crendon – who were also involved in the first final in 1890 – and Great Horworth. I arrived just before half-time and so missed the only goal of the game – Great Horworth held on to that slender lead until the final whistle.

The matchday programme included this information about the origins of the cup from the 1928 programme:

The Oving Villages Cup was formed by subsrcibers of the villages within a 12 miles of Oving in the year 1889, Mr James Evans of Oving being the Chief Organiser and acting Hon. Secretary. The first president was the late Rev. I Hill, the Rector of Oving.

The 2018 programme goes on:

The worthy Rector was obviously a football fan, for research by Hal mason of Sudbury Suffolk reveals that he appeared for the Pilgrims when they lost 3-1 to Foresters in the FA Cup of 1881.

The founder members of the competition were Waddesdon, Quainton, Long Crendon, Granborough, Oving and North Marston. The first two finals were held in Waddesdon but all subsequent finals have been held at Oving Recreation Ground.

Knowing that the cup final had been played on this site since 1892 set me thinking about how the sounding environment of the match would have changed over that period. A wind was whipping the black refuse bags attached to the boundary rope into feverish and sporadic sound-making – like aeolian devices – catching the wind and then collapsing inert as the breeze passed. Perhaps this is a sound unique to this year – lightweight recyclable black bags as opposed to their sturdier more heavily plasticised counterparts. What about the trees around the ground. How much has that changed in the one hundred and sixteen years since that match? The sounding environment would be completely different if the tree line had changed significantly. As the Great Horwood keeper banged his studs against his post just before a corner I began to consider the sounding history of that activity. When did this originate? If goalkeepers were doing this in 1892 what did leather studs on wooden goalposts sound like? I also started to think about the way that the formations would have changed the soundscape. 2-3-5 was the standard formation in the late nineteenth century. This would have changed the way that the sound-making activities of the footballers articulated the playing area – and what about on-pitch communication? left shoulder! Stick it in the mixer! Time!

(looking North towards the village hall)

man on
make your fucking mind up
I fucking have
I’m talking to him the whole time
press him mate
time – time – time
hey – hey
come on Crendon keep going boys
come on
big win
hey heads
come out
get out
yeah that’s it options
heads on the way
turn him
turn him son
man on
two here – two here
drive – drive
go – go
head down

when the final man comes in

come on Crendon this is good
come on
move around
come on
that’s yours – that’s yours
one more
well done
well done mate
well done
ref – ref
stay on
go line – go line
head it back in
play on red – play on red – play on red – play on red – play on red
come on come on
fucking edge
i’ve gotta go
gotta go
coming in
one more
that’s it
come on boys, it’s coming
keep pushing it boys
you alright boy?
got spare here

brainless that is

hey let’s get in then
be aware – be aware
back again

whoever shouts gets the free-kick

get on with it
go on
come on – come on
get up – get up
that’s it
well done – well done
give it


(looking south-east from behind Great Horworth’s goal – black bag crackling in the breeze)

(looking south-west from the halfway line – black bag tied to the boundary rope fills with air)