Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Band of Hope and Glory

Euro 2012 finally kicked of for England fans last night with their team's first game of the campaign against France.


The one all draw seems to have satisfied most fans, though there will always be those who believe that isn't a good enough result: usually the same people who decided months ago that England weren't even going to get past the group stages.


What has concerned me today though is a reaction to something that took place off the pitch (or rather something that didn't take place) in Donetsk.


You may have noticed the absence of the England Band inside the ground yesterday. It has emerged that Ukrainian authorities confiscated their instruments as they were walking into the ground on a promise that they would have these returned after the match. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/euro2012/article-2158139/EURO-2012-England-band-furious-having-instruments-confiscated.html


Love them or hate them, the band have become a part of the travelling England fans in recent years - so much so that they are now sponsored by Pukka Pies.


But it seems there are some that haven't taken quite so keenly to their performances and are even going as far to request that the band be banned from international games permanently. This blog on Daisy Cutter explains the adverse affect they believe the group are having on the atmosphere at games. http://www.thedaisycutter.co.uk/2012/06/lets-keep-the-england-band-banned/


Whilst I'm not sure how 'tongue in cheek this article is meant to be, a quick look at the comments on the aforementioned Daily Mail article shows they are not alone in this train of thought. It goes without saying that I respect their opinion, I cannot agree with it for a second.

When did it become offensive to have a bit of fun at a football game?


I have experienced the same sort of criticism towards Ipswich fans, most recently following the 'party atmosphere' at the final game of the season at Doncaster Rovers. Although for the most part those who travelled to South Yorkshire enjoyed their day, I have read tweets calling for the world to be rid of 'foam hands, fancy dress and congas'.


I don't understand it. At no point has it been insisted that every single person in Suffolk join in these festivities, moreover those who have wanted to join in have been happily welcomed and, in my opinion, we enjoyed the day together as a community. It's like the recent street parties that took place to celebrate the Queens Diamond Jubilee - if you wanted to join then you were more than welcome and the day was celebrated with friends, neighbours and families, but if you preferred to stay at home and watch the coverage on your telly you were not judged for this either. Few moaned about what the other was doing because, at the end of the day, it had no affect on them.


Each to their own I say and I cannot understand the need to criticise others for wanting to have fun. I said to one fellow blue 'I think you complain about others having fun because you have felt miserable watching Town play for the last ten years and you want to make sure everyone else is miserable too'. To this he replied, 'you are probably right'.


More importantly though is Jack Howe's claim on his Daisy Cutter blog that, rather than improving the atmosphere at games (as is its intention as you can see on their site here http://www.englandband.com/index.shtml ) apparently the England Band actually prevents others from singing at games. Another point I totally disagree with.


I witnessed the England band myself at a recent England Women's match at the Keepmoat Stadium. I thought they were good fun and certainly did improve the noise for the thousand or so people who had attended that night.


'But that's a small crowd', I hear you say, 'it is a different situation entirely'.


Well, that may be true but what I witnessed that evening were groups of the crowd being encouraged by the noise created by the band to join in and sing, but after this they continued their chants, where they were already singing out the band remained quiet to allow them to finish. One lovely moment a song was started up by the band, the crowd joined in and after the band stopped playing the crowd continued. They sang the song across the pitch to each other, like it was a tennis ball they were throwing from one side to the other. Surely the effect the band had here can only be a good thing?


Lord knows this year's season has been plagued with complaints that the Football League is losing its 'atmosphere'. Grounds across the country, from the lower leagues right up to the Premiership, seem to be going quiet on us as a result of falling attendances among other factors.


I know Ipswich fans have been calling for some changes to be made at Portman Road, the Ipswich cheerleaders have been reinstated this season (love them or hate them, at least the effort's being made), their have been calls for half-time entertainment such as the 'mini-tractors' that were featured this year and, by far the most interesting suggestion for me, is the idea to move away fans next to our louder 'North Stand'.


All good suggestions and all good evidence that we, as a collective of football fans. Want to see more being done to improve the noise levels at our football grounds. The England Band is just one other way to do this and it is so nice that it has stemmed from a group of fans playing at their own club.


I don't see the harm in it and as such I really wish certain sections of football fans would lighten up a bit and let others get on with enjoying watching the game.


After all, football's meant to be a hobby – what is the point in going if you're not going to enjoy it!?



DS said...

GREAT. What an absolutely, annoying, irritating racket, this selfish bunch of freeloaders ruin the atmosphere, fans pay a lot of money for tickets and to have your day ruined by these cretins just takes the biscuit. I despise this band and many England fans share my opinion.

Amy Downes said...

Thank you for making my point. I totally respect the view that the band is having an adverse affect on people's experience of the game, but using name calling just makes it sound like you are moaning for the sake of being mean.