Column June 16, 2010: A noise annoys unless it???s a nice noise

IN THE drudgery custard-filled days of Walter Smith’s Everton reign, the monotonous and insistent drone of the vuvuzela would have provided a welcome spark of excitement.

“Oh, look,” spectators would have said, “Another pinpoint Niclas Alexandersson pass has gone straight into the Bullens Road stand. Still, at least we have this grumbling bee noise to distract us.”

But those were less demanding times. Nowadays, the vuvuzela horn is giving non-South Africans the hump on a massive scale. According to the BBC, 545 people complained to the broadcaster about the noise. 

My sympathy is with the Beeb on this one. Damned if you broadcast the vuvuzela noise, damned if you strip out all the sound from the match and replace it with the soundtrack from a completely different match but which has goals, highlights, fouls and controversial incidents at exactly the same points. As the saying goes.

That doesn’t mean I approve of the din. The big problem for me is the fact that it doesn’t seem to do anything, like Prince Edward. If it’s a constant noise, then it’s meaningless. It’s another method of saying, “I’m at the match,” when a more concise and eloquent way of expressing this thought is by simply being at the match, but I am no expert.

It’s a South African cultural thing. But, historically at least, we bear our own shame. The vuvuzela’s howl is nothing compared with the rattles which British supporters used to swing, now mercifully defunct thanks to health, safety and anti-idiot legislation. Although I was delighted to discover this week that John Lewis is selling football rattles in its toy department. Presumably it also sells spats, jerkins and loon pants in its children’s clothing department.

But there is a place in football for horns and other noise-making devices. And I think they can be used to repair the damage wrought to the game’s reputation by the prima donna alpha males marauding around the pitches of the Premiership.

I am advocating that the kazoo make an appearance in the stands. Imagine the joyous kazoo fanfare that would greet a goal. Obviously, the supporters would have to get together before the match to decide which tune and tempo to use for the fanfare, otherwise there’d be a terrible cacophony.

And there would have to be some sort of conductor who would decide when to start, as it would be dreadful if the kazoo chorus started when, for example, Emile Heskey took a shot which then sailed harmlessly past the post before turning into a beautiful butterfly. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard a kazoo player fade into embarrassed silence, but imagine hundreds of them doing it at once. Awful.

But the musical instrument I would most like to see in the stadiums is the swanee whistle. For those not in the know, this is the whistle with a sliding attachment which raises or lowers the pitch. And this would be used whenever there was a foul or missed shot.

This would take the sting out of a two-footed tackle. Instead of the players having a big fight on the pitch and threatening to asphyxiate the referee, they’d all be standing about laughing at the comedy pratfall. Even the poor player rolling about in agony on the grass with a broken leg would have to smile.

And instead of supporters getting irate and shouting abuse at the hapless, for the sake of argument, Emile Heskey, they would be chuckling and demanding that the funny missed shot be repeated on the big screen. “We’re not very good,” one set of supporters would sing. “No, you’re not, but at least we’ve all had a good laugh. Shall we have a pint after the game?” the other set of supporters would reply.

You might think this is an impossible dream, but I’d venture it’s a lot more likely than England winning the World Cup.

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