Is the time up for Stadium DJs? Alan Greenwood puts his headphones over one ear and has a scratch at the surface…
Scotland’s Six Nations test against Ireland on Saturday was a bit of a scunner. It was depressing to watch such a keenly-anticipated match deteriorate into a soupy second-half mess as both teams struggled to match the intensity of the first 40 minutes.
There was, however, one operator who was never off the pace; showing breath-taking speed off the mark and a keen eye for any half-chance to step in and make an impact.
Unfortunately, I’m not talking about a player, but the sharpshooter in charge of Murrayfield’s CD collection.
No gap in play, it seemed, was too short for a musical interlude. Things reached a nadir – or a high point if you’re a big Runrig fan – in the 18th minute when Finn Russell faked a kicked to touch and took a quick tap to Josh Strauss, all with the strains of “Loch Lomond” belting
out while at the action raged on.
This was the most blatant example of the bewildering urge to get some tunes on but far from the only one. At every stop in play the noise of the crowd was suffocated by the sounds from the speakers. Perhaps it was particularly noticeable because the second half was duff and didn’t lend itself to raucousness. Perhaps the DJ was under orders to step in because there was a worry that a healthy Irish travelling contingent would drown out the locals.
Whatever the reason it was pretty dispiriting to witness. The Murrayfield crowd is a funny old spud. Oddly muted on some occasions but a magnificent, roaring beast when roused.
There was never going to be any chance of that on Saturday thanks to the ever-present playlist barging its way into the action at every opportunity.
Murrayfield is far from the only offender. The same thing happens at Scotstoun, too, which is particularly odd because Glasgow fans have rarely been accused of lacking voice since moving to their new home.
There’s a wearingly consistent, massively frustrating, pattern to it. The crowd begins an organically-induced chant, only to be silenced by a rude spurt of loud music when the ball goes dead. Then the stadium announcer chimes in and orders the recently-silenced fans to “MAKE! SOME! NOISE!”.
A perfect example came in the Glasgow vs Cardiff match at Scotstoun earlier this season, when Niko Matawalu scored an interception try on his 100th game for the Warriors. As he ran in and dotted down, a spontaneous “Niiiiiikkoooo” chant went up from all corners of the ground. It was a lovely moment, but immediately snuffed out by the injection of a bit of dance music over the loudspeakers.
The best atmosphere I’ve experienced this season was at the Stade Monigo in Treviso, when a nearly-full house of Benetton fans cheered their boys to a win over Glasgow. Not a single bar of music was played during the match, very much a blessing if you’ve ever heard the Italian equivalent to Radio One.
I’m willing to concede there may be a place for a bit of stadium music every now and again during lengthy stops in play. And in fairness to the tunemeister at Scotstoun, sometimes – sometimes – the selection of song adds a bit of fun to proceedings.
But do we have to have instant music at every break? The most banging tune is never going to be as satisfying as a stadium in full cry. A bit more empathy for the action would be nice.
Let fans be fans. Not an audience.