Twenty-Eight Empty Fields #17 : Lambourn Sports Club

Recreation Grounds, Playing Fields and Village Greens have fallen silent – football isn’t happening. A twenty-eight day suspension is in place as part of measures to reduce the incidence of Covid-19. On each of the twenty-eight days I will be visiting a football pitch and recording the sounding absence of football.

Lambourn Sports Club

#2 Drayton FC and the A34

(The Lockway, Drayton)

The Get Rid! advent calendar returns to Sound Diaries this December with twenty four sounds of 24″ duration from our growing archive of audio documentation of grassroots football.

Expect last-gasp equalisers; feral goal celebrations; baffling explanations of the offside law; erratic grass mowing; overwrought full-backs; the diesel-powered tremolo of the floodlight generator; goalkeepers making it up as they go along; nothing happening at all and a lot of sending it long!

Get up! Get on the spillage!

Visit the Get Rid! archive on RADAR here, take a look at the blog, or get a copy of the book and cassette.

#20 Get some chalk on your boots.

(Dorchester Recreation Ground)

You can hear more on-pitch communication 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!

Stick it in the mixer!


#11 Was that player not through on goal?

(Hithercroft Sports Park)

You can hear more from the Hithercroft Sports Park 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!

Stick it in the mixer!


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
help him out
time, time
switch on
down ‘ere
man on
back, come back
get up, get up, get up
man on
one of you
down the line
well done, well done
get back, get back
head up
watch your back, watch your back
out, get out
and again, and again
up, up
man on
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
good ball
one of you
up then, up then
eighteen, eighteen
good well done
well done
watch that midfield
early, early
up, up
calm it down
are you going with four?
pull out, pull out
put a name on it
well done
settle, settle, settle
don’t dive in, don’t dive in
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
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
hey, hey, hey
time, time
mark him
left back
one, one
in it comes
up, up
stay on your toes
don’t dive in
if you need, if you need, if you need
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

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.


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
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
man on now, man on now
whip it in
and again, and again
well done mate, yeah

(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.