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Pompous x pompous = a lot of pompous 11/12/2006

Posted by Ian Grant in Thoughts about things.

Inevitably and understandably, there have been some fairly disparaging comments about the club’s various attempts to build an inspiring, intimidating atmosphere ahead of recent fixtures. Disparaging, and not entirely fair: given that inspiring and intimidating don’t come naturally to Vicarage Road except on extra special occasions, someone has to make a bit of an effort. Otherwise, the soundtrack to our epic struggle – oh, don’t be churlish – will just be the usual chattering and grumbling and rustling, like a screening of Gladiator in a cinema with duff speakers.

Of course, the inevitable consequence has been exactly the reverse: a screening of Gladiator in a cinema run by an ageing metal fan who lost his hearing at a Maiden gig in 1983 but likes to turn the volume up so that he can feel the vibrations, man. There must be some kind of middle ground. Not contenting itself with moving Z-Cars from its natural home yet again – an act that has in itself become a bit of a club tradition, irresistible for those who simply can’t stop themselves from polishing frantically away at football’s scratched surface – and putting yet more sugar in Richard Short’s pre-match cuppa, whoever determines these things has now given us a pre-match build-up so full of foggy, cloudy bluster that it’s a wonder we can still see the pitch when the teams finally emerge. Do tell us, please, what we’re actually supposed to do during all of this deafening orchestral kerfuffle; there’s no point in singing, after all, since even Brian Blessed with a megaphone couldn’t make himself heard above the clatter and crescendo. There’s nothing to clap along to, unless you’re rather more skilled in the art than I, or there’s a baton-wielding conductor somewhere that I’ve missed. What else, then, except to be suitably (and silently) overwhelmed by the immense spectacle that is before you, the sheer gravitas and splendour of Watford versus Reading…?

If you heap pomposity upon pomposity, you end up with a great big pile of pomposity. Well done, you. That whole “less is more” thing has simply passed football by, leaving a world in which the preposterous and the laughable barely raise an eyebrow any longer. After all, nothing does a better job of killing the pre-match atmosphere than the Premiership’s own self-congratulatory, self-promoting mock-ceremony, in which both teams are required to line up on the halfway line and face whichever bigwigs happen to be present in the directors’ box; salutes are not yet required during the playing of The World’s Greatest League’s anthem, but it’s surely only a matter of time. (For those who haven’t been to a game lately, I’ve made up the bit about the salute, but not about the anthem. That really exists. No, honestly.) While all of this nonsense is going on over there, we must stand around patiently until our team arrives in dribs and drabs and is officially allowed to acknowledge the presence of the unwashed masses. Heaven forbid that we should be permitted to roar the lads from the tunnel as we once did. It might start a revolution or something.

What’d happen if we didn’t bother, I wonder? What could they do if we just dashed out of the tunnel and charged towards the Rookery with fists aloft, leaving our opponents to shake hands with themselves? It won’t happen, of course. It never happens. Still, depressing as it is to be clutching at straws as early as December, it appears that life in the Football League is not without its small mercies. For now, at least. But bitter experience tells you that it’s only a matter of time before someone down there reckons that the pre-match build-up is lacking a certain something….



1. Dan - 11/12/2006

Spot on. Before, at least when they were playing the pre-match megamix – all the mid-nineties europop you could ever need – you knew that the nonsense would stop with the arrival of the teams, and Z Cars. A cynic might suggest that it’s been moved with the express intention of putting it back again towards the end of the season, before a relegation 6-pointer. That’s the usual trick, after all.

Just leave it alone, for crying out loud. If you’re going to change anything, make it that pisspoor megamix – we’ve suffered that for about 10 seasons now.

Mind you, we were only getting the first couple of bars of Z Cars anyway before it gave way to the bloody anthem.

2. Ian Grant - 11/12/2006

Having just re-read this article, I’m concerned that I might be turning into Alan Green, a thought that’ll probably keep me awake tonight. Next time around, a cheery, carefree piece about the boundless joys of Christmas. Or something.

3. Paul Valentine - 12/12/2006

I have a theory (as opposed to a Thierry), and this is my theory. I believe that ig is nothing more than a Vicarage Road management lackey, primed to produce such incisive analysis of what is wrong that those of us who are wavering in our commitment to the club find that our resolve not to bother any more, chop in the season ticket, and take up cess pool maintenance as a Saturday afternoon hobby is itself wavering, and decide to give the club one more chance next season. That is my theory and though ig doesn’t look much like Lobby Lud, I would still like to claim my five pounds.

4. LL121 - 12/12/2006

It’s just plain embarassing. I mean we’re quiet but we’re not going to get any louder being drowned out but that pile of cack. Would I get bonus points being pictured with an ex-German Chancellor called Helmut?

5. Hal Berstram - 22/12/2006

“the Premiership’s own self-congratulatory, self-promoting mock-ceremony, in which both teams are required to line up on the halfway line and face whichever bigwigs happen to be present in the directors’ box” – ever seen the film ‘Rollerball’? Before each game the teams line up for their ‘corporate anthem’. That film was so far ahead of its time we haven’t even got there yet. But we will do… who wants to be “Jonathan E”?

6. Nigel Everett - 11/01/2007

At least we haven’t quite reached the depths that Boro did a few years back (and may still do – I’ve only been once). They had a bloke in the centre circle with huge flags on sticks *warming up” the crowd to cacophonous muzak – they still seem to use the same muzak from the background noise I’ve heard on MOTD etc – from about an hour before kick off. Most of the home crowd (they had one in those days!) had flags and spent half an hour waving them round poking their neighbours’ eyes out (offensive weapons?).

I suppose though that the current out of date megamix at least covers the embarassing silence there would probably be otherwise!

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