There are things in this world that we presume exist, but our belief is challenged by an absence of prima facie evidence.
It’s possible that builders exist who insist on payment by cheque or debit card, because it is so much easier than cash-in-hand when it comes to bookkeeping. There could be a furniture shop out there somewhere where everything is full price.
And so it is with the “band” that follows the England team.
I am unaware of any person of my acquaint who regards these people as anything other than embarrassing, annoying, attention seeking, talentless, witless, tortuous and labouring under the huge misconception that they are “characters.”
But somebody must like them. The only time they were silenced was in at the 2012 Euros when their instruments were confiscated before the England-France game at the behest of the authorities in Donetsk.
God bless the authorities in Donetsk. My only criticism is that these buffoons were given their instruments back after the final whistle.
The “musicians” were in Sunderland on Friday, in contravention of the ground regulations which clearly state that what they do is prohibited.
Ahem: “The following articles must not be brought within the Ground – knives, air-horns ... blah, blah, blah ... flares, weapons, dangerous or hazardous items ... yakkety-yak ... any article that might be used as a weapon and/or compromise public safety. Any person in possession of such items will be refused entry to the Ground.”
I was at the game and can confirm that had I been much nearer to that eejit with the drum, then it would have been used as a weapon. The irony is that such public-spiritedness would have got me arrested. Where’s the justice?
How do they get away with it? The safety officer at SAFC, or at Manchester City five days earlier, could have bagged an easy MBE for services to sport by doing the right thing and following the lead of Donetsk.
Depressingly the “band” will be back at Wembley on Thursday to aggravate the nation at the Portugal game.
These people do not “create an atmosphere.” On Friday they only served to underline the lack of atmosphere. England-Australia was a dull and unimportant game. Resorting to blasting out drivel from instruments that sound as if they have been foraged from unwanted Christmas crackers confirms this.
Anyone who wouldn’t happily ban them is being a party-pooper, a misery and a killjoy.
But it wasn’t just the “band.”
Adding to Friday’s persecution was that incredibly excitable announcer at England games who talks like the fellow who narrates film trailers. You know the one: “It was a time of war...”
Doing his best to crank up a non-existent euphoria, he screamed at us to “relive our journey here” before a slideshow of the Euro qualifiers came on the big screens.
My journey there had been on the No 23 bus from Hartlepool to Sunderland (via Peterlee). Fortunately he wasn’t referring to that, because not much happened.
Since 1999 Middlesbrough, Sunderland and Newcastle have hosted seven England games between them. It has gone well every time and is a great thing for the region in terms of finance and prestige. We’ll have some others please.
More such fixtures around here may even stem the rapidly dissipating interest in the national team. But tinny trumpets and shouty announcers do little to discourage the idea that following England is (whisper it) a bit naff, because it shouldn’t be.
When the England team does create genuine excitement it is a rare and wonderful thing, attributable to the football alone and certainly not to the chimps tea party that those in charge imagine is an essential part of the experience.
And as for those blokes who turn up in fake chain mail, they ought to be... (Let it go. Editor).