Voices from the terraces

Posted by on Apr 24, 2009 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments


Recently, I've heard James talk eloquently and insightfully about what modern marketers can learn from arseblog – the now semi-official online organ of Arsenal FC fans.

Me, my tastes and loyalties are different and my football related stories less (ahem) meta.

All I can say is that I was listening to my team's fab fan podcast The Spurs Show hosted by comedian Phil Cornwell (probably best know for this) and sometimes featuring that nice fella who bought my old flat and happened on two bits of HERDy goodness that any football (that's soccer to you, my Murkin friends) fan should be familiar with:

1. What it feels like in the crowd

c.11mins in to the particular podcase, Phil notes:

"there's something about being in the congregation…empowering, singing and chanting"

Being "in the congregation" is a great way to describe the almost religious fervour you feel as terrace footsoldier. Which can be just as scary to those alongside you as to those watching over you…for more on the history of crowds and religious fervour, go read this

2. Songs have no obvious parents

c.20 mins in, Phil muses on how songs emerge from a crowd of fans almost fully formed:

"…do they book a rehearsal space, did they workshop it?"

"At a reserve game, maybe" suggests one participant to much laughter

"[Songs] just suddenly emerge. It's like they've all got together and rehearsed it"

Distributed intelligence but it seems a little bit like magic, doesn't it?


  1. Neil Charles
    April 24, 2009

    Songs have no obvious parents is a nice analogy for emerging trends in marketing.
    They do have parents. One or two guys who’ve made up a song start singing it. It’s short and catchy so the fifty people around them sing it. Three repeats in and the whole ground’s singing. Watching on TV you never hear the first two stages because they’re not loud enough.
    And a marketer who wasn’t paying attention suddenly sees Twitter everywhere and goes ‘what the hell happened?’
    To stretch the marketing analogy a little further, trying to seed a chant on forums very rarely works. At least at my club – Exeter – and they’re small enough to only have one real forum.

  2. Mike Tyldesley
    April 24, 2009

    Some good points here, Mark. Guess at the moment lifes much the same for you as it is for us at the Reebok. Except we have the slight frisson that goes with the old Millwall “No one likes us, we don’t care” thing. We often get tagged with the other fans favourite for the drop tag – last year I remember a West Ham fan in the Guardian pontificating about the Bolton style of football. Which would have been OK if we hadn’t just beaten them on an afternoon when all they did was whack the ball forward, about 10 ft above Dean Ashton’s head. Kevin Davies for England; I don’t think so, but he does deserve it.
    Ehrereich’s book is interesting, but I think it has a whole series of really major flaws. I could start going on, but I’d end up writing an essay about maffesoli’s approach and how that allows us to see the collective joys that Ehrenreich seems to think have gone missing since Woodstock.