You can hear more from Brightwell Recreation Ground here.
The Sound Diaries advent calendar returns this December with twenty four sounds of 24″ duration from our growing archive of audio documentation of grassroots football.
Expect white-line marking; lawn mowing; apoplectic coaches; gale force winds; reversing trucks; despairing goalkeepers; disinterested spectators; rattling dugouts; lacklustre rounds of applause; and football not happening!
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sound of the glancing blow as the ball heads out into touch; the dull thunk as the pegs holding the net in place are withdrawn from the soil; the referee’s whistle; the commands of coaches and players – man on!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.
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.
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.