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