Sunderland need to ditch pre-match 'noise pollution' and why barely heard unoriginal Portsmouth fans seemed strangely uninterested

How can the match day experience at the Stadium of Light be enhanced; other than by better football?

Tuesday, 20th August 2019, 5:38 pm
Charlie Wyke in action for Sunderland against Portsmouth at the Stadium of Light.

For me, the last time a Sunderland home game was what we hacks are obliged to describe as “truly electrifying” was on May 7, 2016 in the 3-2 win over Chelsea.

There was something about the atmosphere at that game that could literally only be equalled, certainly not bettered, in any football stadium on Earth.

This is something worth remembering at Sunderland: how things can be under the right circumstances.

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What have we now? The home attendances are remarkable considering what has happened since May 2016. I defy any club to do better given not only the last three years, but the slim pickings over the last 60.

Manchester United fans enjoy alluding to the fact that they still had the highest attendances in Britain following their relegation in 1974 – which was followed by immediate promotion.

Fair enough. But one season in 80 years outside the top flight doesn’t quite qualify as the pit of misery. Pit of misery experts Sunderland can confirm this, yet still draw 30,000 supporters whose main hope is that their team overcomes Wimbledon in their next home game.

Some visiting supporters contribute more than others and it would be unfair to expect much to stir the blood from the Dons’ following this Saturday.

Portsmouth, however, are a considerably bigger club than Wimbledon. They had 874 fans at the Stadium of Light; respectable given the distance travelled and the game being televised.

But they seemed strangely uninterested and were barely heard, save for the five minutes in which they were leading. Nor are they blessed with great originality, the never-grating, non-dirge that is the Pompey Chimes notwithstanding.

Last December we said of Bristol Rovers supporters: “Their only point of interest was that they are possibly the only supporters left in Britain to imagine that shouting ‘You’re ****. Aaaahh!!’ when the opposition keeper takes a goal kick is even slightly amusing.”

Thanks to Pompey fans, we now stand corrected.

During their falsely promising five minutes they also treated us to the unfailingly hilarious ‘Is this a library?’

Unwise choice. Publicly admitting to not being entirely sure what a library looks like, invites certain unfair assumptions about literacy levels in the fair city of Portsmouth.

Still, Sunderland AFC can’t make their opponents’ supporters any livelier. But what can they do to boost the atmosphere? Well they could do something about the pre-match music.

These days they play Dance of the Knights far too early. A minute before kick-off we have Can’t Help Falling in Love.

But in between Prokofiev and Elvis we have 10 minutes of noise pollution, which serves only to prevent the fans from creating a proper atmosphere.

In a world where talented Roker musicians are chastised for playing their bagpipes at tea-time, it seems unfair that SAFC is permitted to blast out this rubbish when their supporters are trying to conduct an argument about who should be playing at left-back.

And why, when the fixture is on telly, aren’t fans allowed to see action replays below the stands at half-time. It’s annoying when people who can’t be bothered to turn up are better informed than those who paid to be there.

Anyway, rant over. Am I getting old?