Music, Makes the People, Come Together?

United we Stand has been the club’s motto for this season, and while everything is going well on the pitch, it seems to be resonating. The club is going to great lengths to improve the atmosphere, the flag day announced by the Yellow Army for Saturday’s game against Wycombe being another such example.  However, there’s one thing the club tried in our first home game against Bury that very much divided the fans: The pre-match music…..

The club brought in a DJ who spun a heady mix of adrenaline filled super-charged floor fillers to raise the atmosphere. As you would expect, this was met with a mixed response. There are those in the South Stand who look forward to their pre-match catch up and found the louder than usual euphoric beats drowned out their Werther Originals fuelled banter. In contrast there were those who felt the music did a good job at raising a frenetic pre-match build up. And there were others who hated ‘that kind of music’, and got all sulky.

It seems, there’s nothing like music to divide a crowd. One man’s filthy drub is another man’s aria, a similar passion, but diametrically opposed. For me, I liked the music they played pre-match, it’s the sort of stuff I have on my phone, but I’m not sure it really worked pre-match. Judging from the post match reaction I’m in a minority in liking it, so I think the club need to change something. Perhaps a more eclectic mix of familiar up-beat songs, that may even encourage vocal involvement, might be more likely to get things going. Below is a little list of songs that are not necessarily my taste in music, but are tunes that I have observed having an effect on a crowd, that might also reach a broader demographic.

  • Specials – One Step Beyond
  • Fratellis – Chelsea Dagger
  • House of Pain – Jump
  • The Prodigy – Stand Up (theme to KickAss)
  • Tomoyasu Hotei – Battle without honor or humanity
  • The White Stripes – Seven Nation Army
  • Nero – Me and You
  • Rudimental – Feel the love
  • Blur – Song 2
  • Oasis – Wonderwall
  • Guns n Roses – Livin on a Prayer
  • Monkees – Daydream Believer
  • Supergrass – Alright (a little bit of Oxford there)
  • And let’s keep some stuff like the “Boys are Back in Town” and “My heart bleeds for you The Yellow and the Blue”

Modulating the volume between the stands might also be an idea, so as not to compromise the South Stand’s coffee morning.

An even braver action might be to allow a silence; ten minutes before kick off deliberately play nothing, a challenge to the Yellow Army, that this is our time to make some noise. I remember times in the past when technical glitches have left a silence, and fans do not take long to fill that void, usually with derision, but nonetheless it’s a precedent.  I like to think of the players waiting in the tunnel, hearing us in full voice.

This would of course need to be carefully done, I’m sure we all still bear the mental scars of Rosie’s “Give us an O”. I would prefer they just left it for us to sort out, there is always at least one drunk idiot who would get things going (see my previous blog post). If nothing else, it might encourage (however many) away fans to voice, which inevitably would elicit a response from us.

There is another thing the club should be praised, for and that’s for resisting the temptation to play music after a goal. Music after a goal is a sure sign of a club that’s hit rock bottom in its efforts for a better atmosphere; it’s an embarrassment, and should never happen at our home. And if it ever does, I’m going on hunger strike outside the club reception. Just saying.

I have to say the Yellow Army did a cracking job for the opener. Visually it was a sight to behold and I would like to hope, inspired the team. The area we need to improve as a group of fans, is our volume and staying power. The decisions on pre-match music in building a platform for this, are influential, and why I’m hoping the club is prepared to try different approaches in the pre-match music approach, to drum up an even better atmosphere. (Without a drum by the way, NEVER a drum)

The Yellow Army – My Four Commitments

Let’s be honest, the atmosphere at home games last season was not great. Since the end of last season a group of hardworking folk have been making efforts to address this. Oxvox, The 12th Man, the guys behind the “Ultimate Support Days” and the Ultras have come under one banner “The Yellow Army”.

Their aim is to help shape the conditions to enable a much more positive match day experience; a better atmosphere with noise and colour for our enjoyment and the teams inspiration. The Yellow Army of course though, is not just this group, but every one of us, so I have been asking myself what can I do.

My conclusions are below, but to help illustrate my points please watch this brilliant video, which I make no excuse for sharing yet again:

 

What I love about this, is how the relentless enthusiasm of an idiot, starts a whole movement. I’ve heard debates about who the leader is in this video, is it the initial idiot or the guy who first joins him. Either way it needed them BOTH to make it happen, and there are many others who will have loved being a part of it. With this in mind, these are the things I pledge to do as a member of the Yellow Army:

1) Join The Idiot

If I hear or see someone making an effort to improve the atmosphere, I’m going to join in. It might be funny to chant “solo, solo” at him or her, but no that’s not how the Yellow Army rolls. Imagine a scenario where you walk into a room and you see a guy with a carrot up his nose. Naturally, you point and laugh.  But what if everybody else in the room turns around, and they’ve all got veg in the nostrils. Suddenly THAT’S the norm, and YOU’RE the one with the problem.  (Incidentally, I’m not saying we should all ruck up with veg nasally lodged, I’m using it as a device to illustrate how we can break the ‘norm’ if we don’t mind putting ourselves out a bit)

2) Be The Idiot

How great would it be to be that first bloke in that video? I’m not going to settle for apathy this season. Sorry, I’m just not.

3) Do It Loudly

Players who talk about how the fans inspired them, mention the noise and how loud the fans were. There are two elements to the noise that a group of fans can make, first, the number of fans, and then, how loud each of those fans are. The bit I can easily control is how loud I am, so I am going to sing and shout for me and another, and another. No just mouthing or clapping along, it’s out and out bellowing for me. Sorry row T.

4) EVERY Game

There will be those games when folks just aren’t up for it, we’ve all been to one of those. In those circumstances I’m just going to wait for something to happen, right? WRONG! I can’t believe you even read it. What if, one of our players turned up waiting for something to happen? *cough* Tom Craddock *cough*. It’s just not acceptable, it’s not happening on my watch, and it never will

So that’s it, my personal charter and pledge to the Yellow Army:

  • Be a part
  • Don’t settle for apathy
  • Be loud
  • Every game

 

Looking forward to many more of these. COME ON YOU YELLOWS, there’s a sleeping giant to wake, best not be quiet.

Ficklenomics

13% of people are bad.  That’s one of the conclusions from the book Freakonomics.  That number: 13%, was found to be true and tested in a number of different scenarios, and so robust, that it is difficult to disprove.

Available at all good book shops (and probably some bad ones)

Now, that could mean that out of 100 people, 13 are pure evil, and the remaining 87 are living angels. Or, more likely, there is a sliding scale of “badness” in all of us:

Some of us are bad 13% of the time, conforming to the average, some of us 2% and some of us 60% (I know a few, think Paolo) – this is the law of averages.

Now, I don’t know what percentage of us are fickle, because that was not covered in the book, but what I can say about myself is that I have become like the ‘pure evil’ example above and confess right now, that I have become 100% fickle, especially in the case of Oxford United.  More precisely; in the hours that follow an Oxford United match I am 100% pro Wilder or anti Wilder depending on the outcome.  My ‘swing’ on this is wider than the ball-sac of a prize bull that’s been deprived for a whole mating season.

When Oxford lose, I will be thinking “We’re too big for this league, with our budget and fan-base we shouldn’t be playing the likes of Dagenham and Redbridge (no disrespect) week in week out, we should be 9 points clear at the top.  How the hell can Hartle-bloody-pool be in the league above us?  He’s had long enough…” Etc. you get the idea with that.

When Oxford win, I eye the league table and think “A couple more wins, and we’re in with a shout, why can’t people be more patient and loyal with Wilder, he’s done so much for us, and we had all the injuries and stuff…”.

I can’t help what I feel, it’s extreme, it goes either way, and I hope you respect my honesty.  What I don’t do (and here comes the holier-than-though section, so those of an extroverted opinionated nature may want to look away now) I do not share my thoughts with others when we lose.  I see this as destructive, and can’t really think that any good is going to come of that situation.  I fully understand why others do though, we all need an outlet.   Mine happens to be video games, so for every #Wilderout you see from others on twitter, I’ll have a floor full of decapitated zombies.

Picture used by kind permission of Tim Walker

I never used to be so fickle, but I think this is a result of our inconsistent form.  This season has seen many extremes. We beat sw*ndon easily (again, again) we troubled the league leaders, and our individual players look like guys that should  be getting promotion.  Our first three games gave me a taste for something that for a while I believed in.  Then came the record equaling run of defeats, and the still coldly simmering OUFC civil war.  These extremes have driven me to become a fully fledged fickler (new word for you there) and the next time you see someone say “OMG, Oxford fans are so fickle” I will count myself as one of the subjects.

Whether or not I stay this fickle remains to be seen.  It will take a consistent run of form in either direction to change, so until then I’ll keep putting Wilder on a pedestal or mentally seeking his resignation on an alternate weekly basis, and if you don’t hear from me after the Torquay match, it’s because I’m probably taking a zombie’s head clean off with a vileda mop handle.

Blog on Pause

Due to the increasing pressures of maintaining a healthy work/life balance, I am not finding time to update the blog.  So, until I find a bit more time, I’m afraid this blog is on pause.

I will continue to update the YouTube channel regularly:

http://www.youtube.com/user/TimOUFCWalker?feature=mhum

The “TravelOxometer” is still available for download (where you can work out, amongst other things, how many miles you have travelled as an OUFC fan):

https://oufc.wordpress.com/2010/12/16/download-the-traveloxometer/

And if you are really bored, you can still learn how to draw an Ox:

https://oufc.wordpress.com/2010/08/17/how-to-draw-an-ox/

Until workloads become more manageable, I’m signing out, but who knows, maybe it will be back one day…..

Oxford fans – By far the greatest fans, the world has ever seen.  COME ON YOU YELLOWS!!!

My hurried blog post about Southend

I went to Southend on Tuesday night.  It’s very difficult to summarise what happened without it sounding like one of Chris Williams travel reports from the programme, only, not written quite so well.   

Due to my son’s “illness” (you know the kind; profuse coughing and moping around up until the moment you concede he doesn’t have to go to school, at which point a remarkable recovery takes place, allowing him to play Little Big Planet 2 all day, and have me in and out of the kitchen to service his insatiable need for food, while I do my best to ‘work from home’.  Back in my day, the only thing to do at home when you were off school was watch the Cedar Tree and possibly Crown Court.  In other words there was no incentive to be off school.  Nowadays there are so many distractions it’s a wonder that any kids ever attend school) I was able to go direct to the game from home, whereas I previously planned to go straight from work in Wycombe.  This meant that I had to wait for my Wife to arrive back as leaving said Son on his own would be bad form, and could possibly attract the attention of social services.

[There is a long story that goes here about the horrendous journey that I actually wrote, I read it back and it was dull, the general idea for you to get from this bracketed section therefore, is I had a horrendous journey]

And then Oxford went and lost, and then I had to drive all the way back.  Oxford fans were great as ever.  There: blog post done.  I’m not going to Gillingham.  Still optimistic though.  COYY!

The Green Eyed Monster

I went to the new Indian Restaurant in the cinema complex before yesterday’s game with a couple of mates.  It’s an eat as much as you like style affair, good value and good food I thought.  One of my mates (@YellowTim on twitter) made an observation around how if you were cooking a curry at home and filled your plate with, say curry, some rice and a vegetable side; and after finishing eating that, you wouldn’t go back in the kitchen and cook another one for a second plate.  However in a situation where you can eat as much as is physically possible and there’s no additional cost in effort or price then the 2nd or even 3rd plate is inevitable.  The reasons we do this are obvious, but at the heart of it is one of the seven deadly sins; greed.

Greed is a good quality for a football team to have.  The motivation, not just to settle for what they have but to drive on for more with single-minded determination.  This is a quality we see in our own team at the moment.  While yesterday we were not able to get all three points, we certainly saw a good performance from a team that did not give up.  The game ended 1-1 with Craddock scoring the equalising goal.  There were some neat passages of play and on another day, against a different defence Oxford could have won by a large margin.  A point though seemed ok, especially in light of the brilliant Clarkey saving a penalty for us.  The greed, it seems is instilled in every member of the team when they are called upon to play their part.

Attendances at home, and the atmosphere especially, continues to improve; we sang  throughout the match and the quiet patches were fewer than the noisy parts.  The support is better, not only in the songs but the general support and willing-on of the players.  The ascending noise levels are both a precursor, and reaction to, performance on the pitch, each one fuelling the other.  Additional fuel was thrown on the flames by some cheerleaders.  Contemplating this has led me to reconsider the definition of what a cheerleader is.  Say the word “cheerleader” and I normally think of American sport, pom-poms and glamorous girls, but the literal translation of the term is the leader of cheers.

A cheerleader from yesterday's game (somewhere else)

The cheerleaders we had yesterday were the best to ever visit our home, they had a good routine that involved lifts and stuff and with their up-beat music and demeanour they got a good reaction from the crowd which, I think, carried itself into the match.  I for one enjoyed their display, and if nothing else gave me the legitimate opportunity to do a google image search for cheerleader.  The one guy in the squad got a predictable reaction from the Oxford Mail stand, but this was borne I think out of jealousy, another of the deadly sins.  While he must get a lot of grief for what he does, it’s easy to see what he gets out of it, and, on balance, the grief is probably worth it. 

Speaking of grief and strife, I have just been given clearance by my Wife to go to Southend on Tuesday night if I want to.  The sensible thing would be not too,  I would have to leave work early at a particularly busy time and I don’t deal well with late nights.  The problem is I’m loving my football now, I go because I love it (not just out of routine – which is what a lot of us were doing for a long time) and when all is said and done, I’m just a bit greedy.  See you all at Southend (probably)!

Cobblers ‘n Shrews, Pink Ox in the News

Life on the field for the mighty Yellows continues to improve. Since last writing the U’s have played away at Northampton and at home to Shrewsbury.

In the former, a capacity away crowd of 1.6 thousand fans roared their team on. Oxford were the better side on balance and were undeservedly beaten 2-1. Northampton rival Wycombe for the worse home support I have ever witnessed. Their mascot (a dragon called Clarence I think) is lethal with the ball when it comes to taking out linesmen (sorry lines-people, I came over all Andy Gray there) but is woeful with a drum stick. He could be seen travelling from stand to stand attempting to, literally, drum up support with embarrassingly little response.

In somewhat surreal circumstances after that game I went to a wedding reception at MK Don’s Stadium. I’m looking forward to the day when we play them. I’m told by a supporter of the team that the problem they consistently have is that the away fans are neatly packed into a small area conducive to singing loudly while the home fans are dispersed widely in a stadium that is clearly too big for their numbers of support. The result is that their team rarely get any kind of home advantage from their own support. I would love to see how many fans we took there and the sort of atmosphere we could create.

Pink Ox

At home, the match against Shrewsbury was a classic. The back-story to this match was the Pink Ox. It’s been well documented (in fact, on the day the news broke about the Pink Ox, it was allegedly the 7th most popular news story on the whole BBC news website) about how vandals (artists?) painted the bronze Ox outside the stadium bright pink. The club were opportunistic in taking the initiative to raise some money for breast cancer while simultaneously getting publicity for the club. I love this kind of ‘making the best out of a bad situation’ approach. The steps the club took were reflected in the demeanour of the crowd.

An upbeat crowd, started slowly in getting behind the team, with little opposition from a quiet, yet sizable group of Shrewsbury supporters. Three great goals from ex-Shrews Hall and Constable (x2) was enough to sink the Shropshire side who in riposte had very little to show in attempts on goal apart from the heavily deflected goal they actually scored.

In other news the U’s announced a pre-season tour to the U.S. giving many Oxford fans their first chance to watch the club away from British shores. The costs and details of this are eagerly awaited by all. It could be the most glamorous “Why not make a weekend of…” I’ve ever had the pleasure of compiling…..