A lull in any England international is something to be feared. Not because of the ennui but because inevitably it will be a cue for the England Supporters Band to strike up another of their dronesome medley of three tunes. Like a crazy guy called Colin with a colourful tie trying to get the office party going they only proceed to kill the atmosphere stone dead and Kevin Henning has had enough.
“Neither the FA nor the Ground owner shall be responsible for any interrupted and/or restricted view of the Match”
The above statement is printed on the back of all tickets for football matches hosted at Wembley stadium. I don’t often read the small print on the back of match tickets; I generally know what is and isn’t acceptable within a stadium and 90% of the time adhere to the rules and regulations in place.
After watching the England versus Wales bore-fest on Tuesday night though, I rooted out my ticket from the FA Cup semi-final to check whether any rules laws were in place to deal with any persons interrupting my enjoyment of the spectacle whilst I’m sat on my sofa supping Stella.
Now as much as you could interpret this as an elaborate attack on Don Fabio and the artist formerly known as Psycho, the source of my ire is in fact the Official England Supporters Band. Those buffoons that masquerade as a cheer leading type group to allegedly improve the atmosphere during the Three Lions often mundane matches. I’m usually able to ignore the racket emanating from the Sheffield Wednesday followers but on this occasion I was eagerly anticipating a ‘derby’ atmosphere and for me, there was never a chance of this due to the instruments in the crowd.
They first escaped my sub-consciousness in the 18th minute. The Welsh contingent present attempted a gusty rendition of “Land of My Fathers” to which The Band responded with a noisy blast of “The Great Escape” music. Now I don’t mind the England faithful knocking this tune out when we’re down to 10 men against Argentina in the World Cup or following a last gasp equaliser that books our tickets to a major tournament. But on this occasion we were mid-way through the first half, goalless at home to Wales. What were we escaping from? The Welsh soon gave up and began pondering whether it was possible for an ASBO to be issued inside an International Football venue.
Then England score, our own fans let the celebrations die down before a spontaneous attempt began at a traditional terrace chant. ‘Not on our patch’, The Band decided
This was followed in the 26th minute by The Band striking up that old terrace anthem “The A-Team”. Yes, you read it correctly. The England Football Supporters Band were attempting to rally their troops by playing the theme tune from a 1980’s American action adventure series. I’d have been more impressed had they played the Coronation Street music. At least it would have been relevant given that we were in fact in Britain and it was gone 7:30 at night.
Then England score, our own fans let the celebrations die down before a spontaneous attempt began at a traditional terrace chant. ‘Not on our patch’, The Band decided and promptly drowned it out with a burst of “God Save The Queen.” And so it continued : 42 minutes in – Wales fans start a chorus of “Oh When the Reds Go Marching In” but are blown away by The Band and another blast of “The Great Escape”, 54 minutes – the Taffs try again with “Land of Our Fathers” but are scuppered by The Band who shake things up this time with that bastard generic piece of music, “Carnivale”.
Another few times and I’ve forgotten about the match. The commentators don’t seem bothered. Clive Tyldesley oblivious, Kev Henning apoplectic. Along with the tripe being served up on the field, The Band were doing their utmost to ruin a match that I’d looked forward to for at least the last 3 hours.
I was once threatened with being thrown out of Maine Road on Boxing Day for the crime of standing up and giving a solo rendition of Slade‘s “So Here It Is, Merry Christmas” while City were 2-0 down to Blackburn Rovers. I plead my innocence and ask you to consider which is the more sinister crime. The merriment of a slightly inebriated teenager reacting to an inevitable defeat quite pleasantly or a gang of grown men patrolling the terraces with potentially offensive weapons, splitting the ear-drums of anybody within the stadium with an unimaginative medley of miserable music?
If the Chairman of the FA wants to do something about the national team he should immediately put plans for the centre of excellence aside until he has informed The Band that they have played the last post on the bugle.