Get some chalk on your boots!

Monday, 11 June 2018

Get some chalk on your boots

With the Word Cup 2018 due to kick off in Russia in a matter of days, research from Oxford Brookes University has been exploring the ‘sound’ of football.

Professor Paul Whitty, from the Sonic Art Research Unit (SARU) in the School of Arts at Oxford Brookes, has been leading on a project ‘Get some chalk on your boots!’, investigating the everyday sounding cultures of football.  

As part of this, he spent the last year creating an audio documentation of the sport, collecting over 150 sound recordings of matches from the parish council pitches of South Oxfordshire.  

It is an under-researched area; football has often been documented by the medium of photography, but not sound.  

The research stemmed from Paul’s own personal engagement with grassroots football in Oxford during his life, spending time as a coach, spectator and groundsman.  

“Football is a sonic spectacle; an auditory delight; a sport that thrives on the physical energy of sound,” says Paul.  

“The sounds of football are part of our daily lives. From the roar of the crowd seeping out into the night, the crack as a ball strikes the crossbar and the clatter of football boots on concrete, the slosh of paint as the pitch is marked out, the referee’s whistle and football talk at the local café.”  

The sounds of football are part of our daily lives. From the roar of the crowd seeping out into the night, the crack as a ball strikes the crossbar and the clatter of football boots on concrete, the slosh of paint as the pitch is marked out, the referee’s whistle and football talk at the local café.

Professor Paul Whitty, School of Arts, Oxford Brookes University

Paul recorded after matches too. “The county has a particular soundscape and there are things you don’t hear when a match is on,” he explains. “In the quiet calm, the void of the stadium after the game when the crowd has gone.”  

His recordings will form part of an exhibition opening this week (Friday 15 June) in the Glass Tank at the University’s Headington Campus.  

In addition to his recordings, the exhibition will also feature works by a number of artists including: Bethan Elford’s studies of songs and singing (or the lack of) at West Ham’s new stadium in London; Darren Luke’s photographs of Cornish football; a film by Ronnie Close, More out of Curiosity, about Egypt’s die-hard football fans the Ultras and an archive of chants from Highfield Road erstwhile home of Coventry FC collected by artist Duncan Whitley. 

The exhibition will be on display from Friday 15 June-Sunday 15 July, with a Private View on Wednesday 13 June from 6.00pm-8.00pm.  

There is also a conference taking place on Thursday 14 June from 10.00am-4.30pm with a range of presentations and discussions about topics including chants and terrace culture and the phenomenology of sound and football.  

For full details about the conference, exhibition and wider project visit the website.  

Keep up to date with events on Twitter at @getsomechalk