In an era of muted celebrations and the perpetual silencing of the boo-boys, it’s more important than ever to open one’s ears and allow football to deliver some aural pleasure.
The football-loving parts of some people’s brains may be triggered by the theme music to Sports Report, others’ by the life-affirming roar that greets the end of a minute’s silence, but hopefully most by one or more of the following half-dozen sounds of football.
A goal going in off the woodwork
Rather than build to a crescendo here, we might as well begin with the finest noise in football. In-off-the-woodwork goals are primarily a visual treat – they just look better via the goalframe – but a well-placed microphone can turn them into a multi-sensory experience.
If the goalscorer gets their angles right, you may even be served the football equivalent of a double-yolker, the most notable example of which belongs in the scrapbook of Darren Anderton.
A close cousin of the post, the bar and the angle of post and bar is the fabled stanchion. Modern football goals, with their taut nets and exterior supporting poles (which occasionally seek the limelight as illusory goalposts), have forced the stanchion to the margins of the game. And that’s a shame, because it deprives us of that almighty clunk, the sort of clunk in which car-door manufacturers invest millions of pounds in research and development.
For all the talk of mind games and tough places to go, is there really anything that fills a footballer’s entire being with defeat more than the gleeful schadenfreude of the opposition fans who sense that it’s almost certainly going to be their day and not his? The “waaaaaaeeeyyyyy” of ridicule is at its most acute, perhaps, when a title-chasing behemoth runs aground at a provincial underdog like Stoke, for whose fans it has become something of an art form.
There are more unifying opportunities for a good “waaaaaaeeeyyyyy”, usually involving a match official suffering a non-life-threatening mishap and taking the whole thing in reasonably good humour. Essentially, it’s football’s dropped pint glass.
An entry-level gloating “waaaaaaeeeyyyyy” can be deployed when the opposition overhit a pass, particularly if it’s one of their higher-profile players. Depending on the state of the game, this “waaaaaaeeeyyyyy” consists of varying levels of both mockery and relief.
Other mid-range uses of the “waaaaaaeeeyyyyy” include a player being hit in the bollocks, a manager instantly controlling a stray pass in his technical area despite wearing shiny black brogues, and the award of a free-kick after a prolonged period of perceived injustice (also known as the “ironic cheer”).
Where the “waaaaaaeeeyyyyy” really comes into its own, however, is when it’s forced to accommodate several events in quick succession. An errant backpass to a goalkeeper, for example, will elicit an initial “waaaaaaeeeyyyyy”, which then becomes its own extended 12” edit if the ball ends up going out for a corner too. Where the glory of a multi-“waaaaaaeeeyyyyy” really kicks in, though, is upon the brandishing of a second yellow card.
When the foul occurs, the more attentive fans will clock that the perpetrator has already been booked (usually at the very same moment the co-commentator points it out), after which it’s over to the referee to conduct the “waaaaaaeeeyyyyy” from start to finish. Out comes the first yellow – which guarantees at least a modest “waaaaaaeeeyyyyy” at the best of times – and then the red, resulting in something along the lines of “waaaaaaeeeyyYYYYYwwwwWWWAAAAAAAAEEEEYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!”
For the opposition – especially if they’re a bitter, local rival – misery is complete, compounded, and well and truly piled on.
A truly 50/50 tackle
So rare, and therefore rightly treasured. The perfect 50/50 tackle requires such balance of timing, technique and commitment from both players to make it happen, but the audible result really is quite something.
Should all the ingredients come together, even the loudest stadium can’t drown out the quite emphatic “BOOM” that results from the poor little sphere of air, rubber and synthetic leather substitute being struck with great force but having nowhere to go.
The Sky Sports captions
A niche one, perhaps, but a sound you’d recognise anywhere. Amid all the multi-billion-pound contracts, Jamie Carragher’s giant touchscreens and the demise of Keys and Gray, the Sky Sports caption sound effect has been undergoing a low-key evolution.
First, there was the luscious, friendly, windy whoosh of the 1990s…
….which gave way to the post-millennial unsheathing of a sword, as famously controlled by Rafa Benitez:
In 2o15, though, to bring themselves in line with their new £5bn outlay on the Premier League rights, Sky upped the stakes again, unleashing a new sound that can only be described as the opening of a hundred cutlery drawers.
A rubicon had clearly been crossed. At precisely 5:51pm on the 8th August 2015, viewers suddenly started to notice something that had been creeping up on them for about thirteen years.
Is that "swooosh" sound when Sky Sports do a replay a new thing? It is horrible.
— Zombie Killchrist (@TomGilchrist) August 8, 2015
— Simon Sandham (@Simon_Sandham) August 8, 2015
That replay sound effect on Sky sports it's doing my tits in!
— James F (@farnd0g) August 8, 2015
We can never go back now.
The swiftly-muted touchline swearword
Among the more curious, unenviable jobs in football – fourth official, the semi-mythical “tea lady”, Sunderland manager – is the task of being poised for ninety minutes, with your finger on the relevant sound mixer, ready for someone to swear near a pitchside microphone.
Players do it, managers do it, perhaps even the odd referee does it, but nothing scares the TV companies more than the prospect of supporters doing it. So, when Leeds fans decided to brighten up a grey FA Cup 2nd round upset-in-the-making at non-league Histon with some frank analysis of ITV’s football coverage, it was all hands to the pump.
A few vague chants of “ITV, IS FUCKING SHIT” get things going, before one travelling fan leans in for two gloriously crystal-clear choruses before the plug is finally pulled mid-way through a third. Nine and a half excruciating seconds go by before Jim Beglin finally gathers some thoughts about the opening quarter of an hour. With OfCom’s pre-watershed fun police hovering, ITV issued a weary-sounding apology “for this incident which was out of our control.”
Martin Bruce Tyler
It’s very possible that he’s not your cup of tea, which is fine, but there is something reassuringly authentic about Martin Tyler’s commentary (“AAAAND IT’S LIVE!” notwithstanding) that almost seems out of place alongside Jamie Redknapp’s randomly-selected three-piece suits and that “ummm-hmmm-mmmmmm” that opens and closes every ad break.
He’s been commentating for over 40 years (and, at 71, is the same age as John Motson) but remains very much part of the modern Super Sunday furniture, while remaining a charming, humble chap no matter how many times he’s asked exactly the same questions in interviews.
What really matters to the Sky Sports montage editors, though, is Tyler’s goalscoring shriek – 47% man falling off a cliff, 53% Godzilla: