Let’s roar our support but banish those Leicester and Norwich clappers

Pete Sixsmith : 'where's me pie, Bovril and rattle?'
Pete Sixsmith : ‘where’s me pie, Bovril and rattle?’

Monsieur Salut writes: Pete Sixsmith is a proper football fan. Prawn sandwiches may be an odd thing to call posh (copyright Roy Keane) but you wouldn’t catch Sixer eating one at the game all the same. Nor should you look out for him in the East Stand on Sunday and expect to see him with a happy plastic clapper. Here’s his rather appealing, if reactionary, rant …

Some of the readership may have noticed that I passed my 65th birthday recently. I am now in receipt of the state pension, thanks to that nice Mr Lloyd George and am also entitled to stand in the Post Office on pension day and grumble about all and sundry.

There are few things more gratifying than a good grumble. I can grumble about the demise of bus conductors, the passing of Saturday evening football papers and the state of modern footballers, not one of whom can hold a candle to Johnnie Crossan, Charlie Hurley or Jackie Overfield.

I can also grumble about how the top division has changed from a league where there were solid, middle ranking, predominantly northern clubs like ourselves, them up the road and Aston Villa, while the likes of Bournemouth, Watford and Norwich City planned journeys to Hartlepool, Barrow and Bristol City.

Now, with the entirely possible departure of the two Wear and Tyne rivals with the Villa, the likes of Burton Albion, Brentford and Ipswich Town will be anticipating some seriously wounded opposition descending on their towns and grounds, while local publicans will be torn between making money or preserving their pub fixtures and fittings.

Meanwhile Dean Court, Vicarage Road and, possibly, the Brighton and Hove Community Stadium, while continuing to attract genteel football fans to their home games, will do their best to create some kind of atmosphere. They are in towns where football is an adjunct to life, not actual life as it is on the banks of the Wear and the Tyne.

Let’s have a look at our next two opponents. First up on Sunday are Leicester City, followed six days later by Norwich City.

What do these two clubs have in common? They both have the suffix “City”. They have both been in the third tier of English football relatively recently. They both have stadiums that take round about 30,000. And both have beaten Sunderland quite convincingly this season.

But there is one other thing that unites the teams whose stadiums are near those two mighty rivers, the Soar and the Wensum: plastic clappers.

Last seen at Craven Cottage when Fulham slid into Championship obscurity, both of these clubs have distributed plastic clappers in club colours to “create an atmosphere” in their grounds. And what a row they make …

It looks like a paper fan and makes a noise when you wave it. Every Norwich supporter who took his or her seat last Saturday when they beat Newcastle was given one.

It must have been the fearsome did they make that prompted Check Tiote to give away a needless free kick that led to the first goal and for Steven Taylor to play like a complete ass throughout – although he rarely needs an excuse to do that.

Watching on Match of the Day, I saw grown men (and Stephen Fry) sitting there waving these blooming things when they should have been up on their feet urging their team on with a huge roar. But maybe that is just a bit too rough for these sweet Norfolk types.

Leicester City have been using them since September when the club made it policy to distribute them at their newish stadium. City said that “when we don’t use them the stadium is relatively quiet, even when we are doing well”, which is a staggering thing to admit.

Can you imagine that happening at Sunderland or Newcastle or Villa – the quiet stadium, rather than any of the teams doing well?

If an atmosphere has to be drummed up by sitting there banging bits of plastic together, things really have come to a pretty pass.

I remember the Roker Roar when we beat Everton in the FA Cup in 1964 and the noise when we won promotion at the end of that season.

I was there on that ear splitting night when we beat Manchester City in ’73 and the atmosphere when Sheffield United were beaten in the playoffs in ’98 was the best I have experienced at the Stadium – almost matched a couple of years later when we scored twice in the second half to draw with Newcastle.

There were no plastic clappers at any of those games, nor were there at Villa Park in 2008 when a huge away following roared the team home after Michael Chopra (now at Alloa Athletic) had put us ahead.

Villa wilted because of the sheer noise that 5,000 Sunderland fans created and Villa fans said afterwards that that was what support was all about.

I really think that the FA and the Premier League should step in here and make it perfectly clear that they will not sanction the entry of any club that uses plastic clappers to play in European competition or the Premier League next season. I can think of many thousands of Mackems, Magpies and Villans who would give them unbending support if that were to happen.

I won’t be holding my breath……..

14 thoughts on “Let’s roar our support but banish those Leicester and Norwich clappers”

  1. I’ve already said that I feel ridiculously confident ahead of Sunday. I will be watching at work on SKY. Having been unable to obtain the 3 tickets needed for Norwich away, I shall be retiring to my Cyprus hideaway on Wednesday, emerging only to watch TV coverage with bated breath. Both the season and my holiday enjoyment could be over by 4 pm on 16th. Let’s hope not.

    • I was also ridiculously confident today. Surely, improving performances had to pay off at some point, even against the Leagues leaders. But there we go… another knife edge. Good luck to Leicester City for the rest of the season. Hope you do it

  2. “They are in towns where football is an adjunct to life, not actual life as it is on the banks of the Wear and the Tyne.”

    This reminded me of one of Bill Shankly’s wonderful quotes:

    ‘Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.’

    Another of his is similar to one by Brian Clough:

    “Football is a simple game based on the giving and taking of passes, of controlling the ball and of making yourself available to receive a pass. It is terribly simple.”

    • I feel obliged to say that no one in Liverpool uses Sharkey’s quote, not any more, and to remind one and all that that the Hillsborough inquest is drawing to its conclusion.

      • I think most people nowadays realise that Shankley didn’t mean it literally but that it was his way of way of trying to explain how passionate he (and Liverpool fans) were about his team. To relate to Sixer’s statement I remember talking to Kevin Ball about his time at Fulham and the differences between Fulham fans and those at Sunderland. He said that at Fulham if a dad was looking after his kids for the weekend he might suggest they go to the zoo, a museum or the football but on Wearside there was no such debate. It was always the football!

        But it is very apposite of you to mention the Hillsborough enquiry. I think those of us who had been in the Leppings Lane before the tragedy always knew there had been a cover up. I had been to see Wednesday play Spurs a few months before and was literally off the ground in the tunnel and carried by the crush which only eased when we got onto the terraces. It was pretty obvious that the real reason behind the deaths was the poor design of the access and government legislation demanding fences which of course they were never going to admit.

        As for the police response I can relate that to the day we got relegated at Selhurst Park in 1997 when despite the result the Sunderland fans were in good spirit and well behaved. But there was an incident when a Mackem jumped on a police motor bike and rode off on it at which point police transits emptied and baton waving bobbies threatened anyone they thought might be in the way. I saw mounted police threaten to hit a middle aged man and his primary school aged son because they wanted to cross a road. Naturally enough the atmosphere turned in the face of open aggression.

        I wrote to my MP at the time, who contacted the Metropolitan Police and got a very bland response from them basically blaming the thousands of drunk Sunderland Supporters. I’m pretty sure that similar tactics at derby games have inflamed rather than calmed the situation regarding fans and I welcome the more low key approach we have seen at recent Wear/Tyne games, though I’m not naive enough to think there won’t be some people who seek to take advantage of that.

  3. I actually like and respect Sunderland as a club and still have fond memories of the friendly milk cup final in ’85, but I genuinely can’t see you getting a result against Leicester and i feel that a draw against us will be the best result you can hope for. Don’t worry though Northern brethren, the championship is infinity more fun and you will bounce back quickly no doubt and in much better shape. By the way, it’s the Wensum that winds its way through the fine city. Well written romantic stuff though. OTBC.

    • Sixer’s now off, via Darlington v Nantwich, for a couple of days of groundhopping in Llandudno and Nantwich before Sunday’s match. So I’ll just hazard a guess that he committed a Freudian slip when writing Winsum (in our case, WinsumLosemore)

      I remember that League Cup final (morale sustained by lots of beer, which you could then buy throughout the match and take back to your seat) and also the FA Cup semi at Hillsborough. I think there’s a fair bit of mutual respect between our supporters

  4. I think you’ll find they’re made of card so a ban on plastic clappers would be welcomed by the mighty Foxes 🙂
    Looking forward to the match on Sunday, should be a good one.

  5. You deluded silent tarts won’t stand a chance of drowning out Carrow Road. It was white hot against that infinitely bigger North East team in black and white last week. I bet Allardyce will play for a 0-0 draw…I bet it’s great fun being a fan of your toilet club right now.

    • Deluded? Silent? Tarts? Infinitely bigger North East team in black and white? Toilet club? There is a lot about Norwich City that I like. You, Mr Toad are not one of them.

    • As I recall, you were not so vocal when Delia delivered her much-quoted rant a few years ago? [ Lets be ‘aving yer ]

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