Many Jamaicans, at home or abroad, are getting excited because Champs is around the corner. The fans are ready to sport school colours and make noise. I’ve only been to Champs once and loved what I experienced.
I’m a child of the English football terraces; they are where I spent many an enjoyable Saturday afternoon, watching my heroes close up, and learning the ‘trade’ of playing football. Occasionally, as a teenage boy, I was able to go to a night game. The atmosphere was essentially the same, but under floodlights, a match takes on some different characteristics. My parents were not keen for me to go to night games alone, and always wanted to know who else would be with me.
I’ve watched a few football games in Jamaica and been struck by one simple point. No one seems very passionate about the teams that are playing. “Kick di rahtid ball, nuh, Shartie!” doesn’t get there. “Ah wha’ disya team a do?” misses it, too. “Goooooaallll!” is getting there, but come on, man.
When I went to games in England a big part of the experience was chanting; singing the songs that lifted my team and singing the songs that denigrated the opposition.
We are the Rangers and we are the best/We are the Rangers so f*** all the rest/F*** ’em all, f**8 ’em all/The long and the short and the tall/…
I wrote a short while ago about Jamaicans (and other Caribbean, mainly) who support English teams. I now know a little better why I struggle with this phenomenon: the fans here know little about the real experience of supporting the time during a match. One of my Jamaican acquaintances who’s involved in sports broadcasting had the good luck to have to go to London recently. He gloated about how he would be going to The Emirates Stadium to watch his ‘beloved’ Arsenal. When he returned and told me about his time there, he never once mentioned singing the songs. Maybe, he doesn’t know the word. Maybe, he doesn’t feel the vibes. But, I wondered. I started humming to myself a few ditties about teams, but one song came to mind (mindful that I lived in the part of London being dissed, though was never a fan of theirs–my older daughter is, though 😦 ):
We Hate Tottenham
“(Whaddya think of Tottenham?!)” “SHIT!”/
“(Whaddya think of Shit?)” “TOTTENHAM!”/
“(Thank you!)” “That’s alright!”/“We hate Tottenham and we hate Tottenham!”/“We hate Tottenham and we hate Tottenham!”/“We hate Tottenham and we hate Tottenham!”/“We are the Tottenham haters!”/“(Y*ddos! Y*ddos! Y*ddos!)”
Watch for fuller impact, http://arsenalchants.com/video.php.
That’s how fans show their support: vocally. Loud, very direct, and often not for the ears of young children. They do not go for big productions, such as the following (expect, perhaps, if the World Cup team wants to make some extra money with a chart hit). Anyway, listen carefully to the lyrics.
Champs doesn’t have this, and for sure, Red Stripe Premier League doesn’t. We are now in the land of the vuvuzela. Add to that the sound of some fans jeering and clapping. It’s not much.
I miss the old English style.
I watched Manchester United suffer at the feet of Liverpool last week, and really enjoyed how the singing changed as the result was coming clear. The Liverpool fans’ voices rose louder and stronger. The ManU chants tried to lift their team. The home team’s Stretford End–where the diehards must be to show their love–did not seem able to cope with the lesser numbers but heartier singing of Liverpool’s travelling fans, representing The Kop (their home ‘end’ at Anfield). The TV coverage did not do it full justice as it did not show the waving arms with scarves in team colours held high, swaying with the songs. But, try to listen to part of the game when the score was 0-2 to Liverpool.
Back to Champs. My ears are going to be tuned in to how singing features, if at all, when the stadium starts to rock and the runners start to roll.