Dear Roker Report,
Do not, I repeat do not become one of these embarrassing clubs with a drum in the crowd.
Ed’s Note [Gav]: I’d just like to state at this point that, contrary to popular belief, Roker Report have no intention of bringing a drum along to games. How would I get sat down in the pub before the match with one of those in tow? And I’m too lazy.
Dear Roker Report,
The England Band, The Barry Horns and that fat geezer from Portsmouth with *that* cow bell - football and music have always gone hand in hand, whether you like it or not.
It seems the other day, by merely daring to suggests to Roker Report that maybe we should consider a drum at the Stadium of Light, that I was a viable candidate to be hung, drawn and quartered. So, I’m going to take this chance to delve a little bit further into it all, explain my point a bit more in depth and wonder if we could all have a rational debate and discussion about it all.
My first point has to be to set my stall out properly. When I said “let’s get a drum in the stadium” - I’m not talking about an orchestra or rival the Philharmonic, I’m not thinking along the lines of that guy with the cow bell or one of those drummers that gets trigger happy and thinks they’re on an Orangemen’s parade for the day, giving it full pelt from dawn til dusk.
I was once a drum sceptic myself until a recent venture to Windsor Park when I saw how effective a drum and a willing crowd can be. Using it somewhat sparingly, the drum is used to start and create a tempo for chants way better than any clap of the hands can. A few heafty cracks of the bass stirred the crowd into action, with almost the entirety of the stadium ready to sing and shout on the beat - and on a rainy Sunday evening, it added a really intimidating and haunting quality to it.
So that’s where I stand with that - use it to start chants and pace them out. During the (few sensible) discussions I’ve had its clear people outside of the Roker End (or South Stand if you prefer) find it hard to get involved, either by them being one of few who want to sing, by not getting what chant it is until its nearly done or the fact that the Roker End simply sing too fast (proven when our rendition of Wise Men Say was done before the chorus even started on Saturday).
Another startling discovery was how many people have already decided a drum would be annoying, rubbish, overpower the crowd and look decidedly ‘tinpot’ for a club of Sunderland’s stature.
I found it interesting that a really large portion of people set against it were judging how it would work for Sunderland, despite never sitting in a home end when you have the drum - prime examples being how bad Sheffield Wednesday’s or Middlesbrough’s use of one is.
How do we know, if we aren’t going to try?
Others have chimed in with how artificial the atmosphere becomes with one, which to an extent I agree. Football bands and drummers have come and gone, but every club is individual and so are its supporters, so whats not to say we wont put our own stamp on it?
Further to the point, the notion of it creating a false atmosphere is totally lost on me, since some of the most revered and passionate support in the world use drums and other instruments - heck, even Borrussia Dortmund with the highest average attendance in Europe use drums at their matches.
If its good enough for a German giant, I’m sure it could be good enough for us.
One thing that cant be ignored though, is the 59% (I sound like Nigel Farage here) of people who voted in Roker Report’s Twitter poll on the matter, which is a large section of supporters who are totally against it.
Despite concerns about the atmosphere at home games, there would be little point in forcing a drum onto people who don’t want a drum.
In trying to create a positive atmopshere, the last thing you want to do is create a negative match experience - its a real juggling act. It’s clear there’s a lot of people closed off to the ideaand I’ve taken my fair share of abuse for my suggestion, but maybe as fans all pulling towards a common goal we could ditch the sarcasm for a bit and talk about it properly, weigh up suggestions, like maybe trying it at away games or pre-season first, or creating another singing section away from the Roker End and using a drum as a way of linking the chants and so forth.
Or, maybe it just really is that bad an idea. Either way, its a worthy discussion and I’m sure there’s a plethora of decent suggestions beyond calling someone a “drum nonce”.
I’d like to think as the season draws to a close we can all keep having the debate, whether it’s drums, flags or whatever else as a means of positively influencing the atmosphere in the stadium - plus, its much nicer than arguing about Brexit or what formation Jack Ross should play.
Either way, drum or no drum, we all want the same thing, but as a parting monologue I’d just like to leave this thought with the nay-sayers; maybe give it a chance, see how it goes and if it works, it works, if it doesn’t, it doesn’t and you’ll never have to have the drum or no drum argument again - after the last few days on social media, maybe knowing one way or the other is the best way forward.
Ed’s Note [Gav]: You’ve put your points across brilliantly Tom, and I agree, it would be better if we all could discuss such matters like adults instead of slinging abuse around just because you disagree or don’t like someone else’s opinion.
For me, I’m totally on the fence with regards to a drum - as you say yourself we have no idea if it works or not so I don’t have an opinion either way. I do think that there’s a sizable enough portion of supporters that like the idea and, with that in mind, they should be allowed to at least test the waters with a drum to see how it goes down.
Pre-season would be a sensible time to do it if anyone has intentions to bring one along. They’re only friendlies, they’re away from the stadium but we take enough people away that there’s a sizable enough sample there to try and gauge whether people join in with the chants or whether they reject it completely to the point where you wouldn’t go with it again.
I’m open minded on it all and wouldn’t stand in anyone’s way if they wanted to trial the idea, because after all it’s just a fan trying to get more fans to sing along and join in with backing the team. There are some really bad examples of it but there are also some great examples of it working, so ultimately it’s impossible to say whether it would work or not with Sunderland until it’s actually given a fair trial.
The debate has certainly kept me entertained over the last few days anyhow!