by Jack Howes
When watching England’s impressively solid 1-1 draw with France yesterday you may have noticed the lack of any noise from the ‘Pukka Pies England band’ (in modern day football even a band of supporters are sponsored, logoed and corporatised). This is because Ukrainian authorities confiscated the instruments from the band members when they tried to enter the ground, with the promise of returning these instruments after the game. Reading this has made me livid.
Livid that they returned these instruments at all. If they really want to gain some popularity they should have got a couple of World’s Strongest Man contestants to snap these instruments in half, stomp on them, flatten them until what was formerly a drum had the height of a layer of ham, defecate on them before getting the band members themselves (without washing hands) to pick up the objects that were formerly their instruments which are now covered in faeces and throw them into the Black Sea.
I may be slightly harsh there but judging from comments I’ve seen across the internet, most memorably on this Facebook page, it is a widely held sentiment that it’s high time for the endless racket that has accompanied England mediocrity for years to cease. It was a big relief to watch an England game and not hear the faux patriotic songs provided by this band, who have trips and tickets for England games fully paid for.
No endless banging of a drum, no constant playing of the same Victorian era/wartime songs that make England look like a country obsessed with the past and overly nostalgic for the times when it ruled a quarter of the world. No noise so droning and consistent that watching England games I felt as if I wasn’t far off contracting tinnitus.
Now I have nothing against the members of this band. Good luck to them for having a go at ‘improving the atmosphere’ and heck if I could do something at little cost to me that got me free tickets and free trips to watch England play at major tournaments, I’d probably do it. Though if I saw just how many people were fed up with my wares, I would by now have stopped. I mean this band have less originality than Coldplay and make Chris de Burgh a more preferable alternative.
They would argue that they ‘improve the atmosphere’. Well I don’t see playing the same two or three songs again time after time, match after match is conducive to a good atmosphere. Surely chanting and crowd singing is how you bring about good atmospheres that energise the crowd, give the home players a lift and intimidate into submission the opposition. Not through artificial gimmicks, such as this band banging on drums and playing trumpets to play songs people have heard before. I would say this crushes an atmosphere and prevents a crowd from making its own noise, rather than improving matters.
To conclude, the authorities in Ukraine and UEFA, please please please, continue to ban this band from playing their instruments. Please. For the purposes of preventing crimes against music, improving atmosphere and making watching England a far less irritating prospect, please may the England band never play at an England match again.