What's To Be Done About The England Band?
Hello, I'm Jim, I'm a stand up comic and presenter on The Football Ramble podcast. I also write for bettingexpert.
With another international weekend in the books, today on the blog Jim Campbell from The Football Ramble wonders if the England Band needs a severe revamp.
Another international break has come and gone. As important as they are, World Cup qualifiers can be pretty drab affairs for England fans, with the national team often putting in understandably functional performances to get the required three points.
Nothing personifies this drabness like the drone of the England band parping out The Great Escape theme from the stands, interspersed with 'Rule Britannia” and that “Come on England” tune that they do.
The Great Escape theme is particularly tiresome. Playing it suggests that England are always playing against the odds, even when they're not, and the jollity of the tune makes us sound somehow smug. In this context it manages to sound both defeatist and arrogant, which is some going on a trumpet.
At Euro 2012 the band found their instruments confiscated before England's opening game against France at the Donbass Arena in Donetsk. When attempting to drum up support to get themselves reinstated England's army of keyboard warriors took to their Facebook page to make it clear that they didn't want them back, and a Twitter account, @BanEnglandBand was set up. At present it has 1,806 followers. The band themselves, on @PukkaPiesBand, have 1,838. Clearly they are not nearly as beloved as they think they are.
On their website they say they're; “Driven by the passion and pride all England fans feel.” As is obvious from their Twitter handle they're sponsored by Pukka Pies, who pay for them to follow England all over the world for games and tournaments, so I'd argue that they're actually driven by pies. A pretty sweet gig if you can get it.
Most people won't get to see England play that often, if ever, and it's a special experience for many that do. With that in mind imagine settling into your seat to realise that you're sat just in front of the band and are going to have to listen to them droning on for the entire game.
Why are they even allowed to do that? I'm pretty sure that if I brought a guitar and an amp to a game I wouldn't be allowed to sit there hitting the strings with a brick for 90 minutes. What if everyone did that? Perhaps this is a way to get them to stop. If everybody brings an instrument and makes discordant noise to drown them out until they shut up.
Football has an obsession with mainstream indie bands at the moment, as if Tim Lovejoy is choosing the music, with The Enemy and Hard-Fi having played at the FA Cup final. If it's to continue down this horrendous, Superbowl style path – and if it is they'll need to start booking some better bands – then it could at least have ramifications for the England band.
Maybe they'll be replaced with a real band for each game. Need some top notch corporate entertainment? Why not take your clients to see an England game and Coldplay at the same time?
The band haven't taken the hint after Euro 2012 and are continuing. If they're not going to stop they could at least learn some new songs. They could learn anything. The Great Escape theme has nothing to do with England but it doesn't have to. The White Stripes' 'Seven Nation Army' and The Beach Boys' 'Sloop John B' have caught on as chants because they're catchy.
For this reason, I propose that the England band should start playing the theme from Jurassic Park. It makes as much sense as most of the things they play, the words; “Come on Eng-er-land” fit into it perfectly and it's a genuinely uplifting piece of music. They've been doing this since 1996 so they can at least think of the rest of us and keep it interesting. That would be pukka.
Follow Jim on Twitter: @JimCampbellTFR
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The England Band must come up with some new tunes as they play the same one over and over, the only one that really really gets people to stand up is Glory Britannia and God Save the Queen, but of course, you can't see that all the time. I think for the regulars, it is somewhat an annoyance but for the casual goers of England, yes, it would be an atmosphere to be experience. However, as fan culture evolves, England hasn't really moved on similar to the european counterparts.
Could it be because of the Hooligan issue and why sparking up the "the firm" or grassroot support is something the genuine fans wants to move away from. Maybe it's all FA's doing to revamp the image of a England fan. One thing on the ground is that when England play, with multicultural national sitting on the terrace, how many of them are really supporting England as England their country? Maybe the Band is the solution to keep some entertainment going or otherwise you will end up with the Portsmouth cow-banging ring in your ear for 90 minutes.