Chants would be a fine thing

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.

Alan has played club rugby badly for more than 20 years and is currently lumbering around for Bannockburn RFC. He's been a Glasgow Warriors season ticket holder since before it was fashionable.

21 comments on “Chants would be a fine thing

  1. The Chiel on

    Spot on. Could not agree more. Put this in a tweet and lets all retweet it to @Scotlandteam

    The only slight problem I have with this argument is it’s one Stephen Jones of the Sunday Times regularly trots out. Which only proves even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

  2. Stu2 on

    I’m an auld fart but even I know that a Scottish game at Murrayfield is an “experience” for many people who know the square root about the game.

    The fireworks, bands, DJs are here to stay.

    • The Chiel on

      Completely agree with this for before ( pre match at BTM, lights out etc is brilliant ), halftime and after – but NOT during the game itself. Which I thought was the point of the article. . . . .

  3. James on

    Might this issue be helped if we had a Murrayfield song for the crowd to sing? The Irish have fields of athenry, Wales have wales forever, English have their chariots. At a push Murrayfield breaks-out into flower of Scotland but its a bit of a dirge and there must be a better Scottish song that we could sing. I’ve never understood why we don’t have song. What is it that would be needed to get this up and running? Perhaps we could take a poll of fans and then the SRU could stick a song sheet on every seat of the top 3 and see what sticks! I quite liked the lyrics that the SRU had to Highland Cathedral but I’m not sure how good it would work as a stadium anthem.

    • Ryan Jackson on

      I just posted a very similar comment only to come and see this – swift removal. Totally agree.
      Highland Cathedral is in my opinion the answer. Its short sharp and with a good bit of lift in there.
      I think player based chants are a thing to come too. Football seem to introduce a new verse or comedy chant for new club players in a matter of days. I’m sure we could have the same thing in Murrayfield.

  4. Merlot on

    We go to watch a match. If we wanted to go to a children’s disco we would.
    If Murrayfield want the match experience to be a bit more rowdy then allow more pipes and drums in.

    • Stu2 on

      “We” couldn’t fill the stadium in the past – “we” needed the influx of other fans to whom the game is just another part of the day.

    • Tam on

      I totally agree more pipes and drums all the way. The piper who played during the Italy game was possibly the best piper I’ve heard at a game. He was pretty awesome anyone know who he was – get him a contract as the Piper of Murrayfield!

  5. Alanyst on

    I’m split on this….thinking more about ‘franchise’ level rugby not internstional or local clubs.

    I don’t particularly like the music etc, but watch the game closely, my young kids do like the music etc, cheer for tries but otherwise dont really watch the game much, my wife, I suspect likes neither, but comes along anyway…

    Let’s face it, I am not the target audience — I’m watching anyway– but to bring families and friends along is key to building a crowd, especially over time.

    I think to have a different vibe for Friday nights versus Saturday afternoons etc is important….sound and light shows, live music at half time, “try music”, kids zones etc all have their place.

    Not a fan of music just cos the game has paused momentarily…

    • Scotty on

      Couldn’t agree more and to be honest I think that they should be focussing in on these additional features for the Super 6 to get decent numbers along and open up the sport to a wider audience. Live music, street food, bars, light/fire shows…basically anything rugby fans can use as bait to bring their other halves/kids/family/non rugby friends to. I think for Scotland matches it is not so necessary (although the fire shows etc at the start do help raise the atmosphere) but for super 6 and to some extent Glasgow/Edinburgh games I see no reason not to tart them up a little to get bums on seats and cast the net far and wide to potential fans.

      But you can guarantee the SRU will overlook this opportunity and that they will also host the super 6 games at 3pm on a Saturday which means that anyone else who plays or supports a non super 6 team will not be able to come and watch

      • Highland Bear on

        At the Scotland-Italy match the fire show was very welcome to those of us in the East Stand freezing our butts off.
        I enjoy the pre-match entertainment which for me builds the anticipation and is of a reasonable standard.
        I despise the SRU’s attempt to jazz up the halves by inappropriate music and a hysterical announcer who has overdosed on e numbers.

  6. David West on

    Something equally annoying is the female stadium announcer at Murrayfield. Is it just me or does her voice grate on other supporters too, everytime I hear her either interview an ex player or the countdown to the kick off I have a quiet swear under my breath and think I should put forward my wife for the job as she has a lovely voice and knows sod all about rugby !!

    • JohnMc on

      No, it’s not just you (granted, it might just be you and me possibly). I’ve complained about screechy voice on this blog before. Not necessarily because of her voice, but because of the times she’s squawked out the kick-off countdown on the stadium clock when it’s been quite clear the ref was not ever going to keep to screechy’s time.
      On the wider point, I’ve been to Murrayfield maybe eight times in the last four years and I can’t recall a point when the stadium music has clashed with the crowd vibe or a passage of play.
      As I say, only eight times so maybe I’ve missed some clashes, including last Saturday.
      A new, in-play song for supporters? No thanks. Bellowing ‘Scooootland’ works for me. And the only time in recent years I can recall that Flower of Scotland in-play felt right was when Laidlaw was lining up the penalty that would make it 27-22 in the last seconds v Ireland in 2017.

      • Frozen North on

        Yes, it grates upn me. It just sounds like when she finishes the countdown she will turn, without pause or change of tone, and berate her children (assuming she has…)

  7. john on

    Wrong thread but…………

    Edinburgh game last night – Magnus Bradbury was excellent, played the whole 80mins and his kick chase reminded you how effective a box kick can be if chased well. He carried well too. Perhaps Edinburgh kicked a wee bit too much, VDM is a tremendous weapon to have, his physicality is a real threat, Graham was very effervescent, he punches way above his weight, I wonder if the time is nigh for him to step into Seymours boots? JJ played well, Dean came onto a game after a sticky start. All in all a satifying evening.

    Is Bressler Scottish qualified?

    McGuigan playing today, Dunbar, Hardie not playing

    • James on

      I remember reading on here after he left Edinburgh that apparently Bressler is no longer qualified as he left Scotland before being capped after his three year residency.

  8. Weeman on

    It is an interesting point and organisers have always been keen to put on a show at M-field perhaps going to far and not concentrating on pre and post entertainment around the stadium as discussed in the podcast. Also am pretty sure Wales used to play recordings of the crowd singing in order to get them going, pretty cringe but it introduced a song when they wanted to ramp up the atmosphere.

  9. Andy Render on

    Spot on Alan, the “Make some noise” request when Enter Sandman or whatever else is blasting out at Scotstoun always make me cringe

  10. Unemployed former Scocha member on

    Going to Murrayfield now is like going back to the 90s. Pre-match is great, but the needless music to “enhance” the experience crushes my soul, particularly when it drowns out a spontaneous roar of acclaim or even one of the rare songs we sing.

    Also what grinds my gears is the way the replacements are announced – surely there’s a balance to be struck between giving them a decent intro and making it sound like the replacement prop is, in fact, the second coming of Christ?

    I have just got back from the Bulls – Stormers game (get me!) and at Loftus they take it to extremes. Music just carries on throughout the match at some points! Vanilla Ice, Here comes the hotstepper, born in the USA, etc. What I would say is that it’s a different vibe out there and it works to some degree, but playing a daft heartbeat sound for a minute while the teams are crabbing across the pitch is a step too far, although I fear not for the Murrayfield Massive.

    Maybe they could use the WC Warm-ups to experiment with their approach if they see this sort of feedback?

  11. Ryan Jackson on

    This is where we are missing a trick. The Irish have ‘Fields of Athenry’, English have ‘Swing Low’, Wales – ‘Bread of Heaven’. We just repeat our anthem. Don’t get me wrong I love hearing Flower of Scotland ring out in the stadium, but we need something more. Not Loch Lomand, or 500 miles. We need our fans anthem.
    We have our classic ‘SCOOOOOOOTTTTTTLAND!!’ which does its loops round this stadiums but hell it can tear the throat right off ya.
    It could be ‘Donald Wheres Your Troosers’ for all I care, but christ I’d love to sing something in that stadium. Highland Cathedral could be the answer. We hear it from the loan piper before our home games and it make the hairs stand up. Its short sharp and rousing.

    Another view is that someone in the social sphere to be plying us subliminally with chants for different players – football seem to be able to do it in a matter of days of a new player arriving at there club. I think we as a nation and sport could be getting behind our players.

    But wholly, I agree with getting rid of the DJ’s. Absolute atmosphere killers.

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