Get Some Chalk On Your Boots!


As a child I had a running commentary in my head when I was playing. It wasn’t really my own voice It was the voice of Pierre Cangioni. Every time I heard his voice I would run towards the TV as close as I could get for as long as I could. It wasn’t that his words were so important but the tone, the accent the atmosphere was everything…

When you are immersed in the game, you don’t really hear the crowd. You can almost decide for yourself what you want to hear. You are never alone. I can hear someone shift around in their chair. I can hear someone coughing. I can hear someone whisper in the ear of the person next to them. I can imagine that I can hear the ticking of a watch.

Zinedine Zidane from Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait by Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno

…the collective song and intoxicating sound of the crowd does not just provide an accompaniment to the beautiful action of the players, but is the sublime matrix out of which play emerges, the force field that energises the action…

Simon Critchley from What we think about when we think about football

Get some chalk on your boots! is a project developed by Sound Diaries and led by Paul Whitty from the SARU. The purpose of the project is to investigate the everyday sounding cultures of football. The project was launched with a conference and exhibition (June-July 2018) and investigated football through an exploration of its sounding cultures. 

You can look at the conference programme HERE

The exhibition featured More out of Curiosity a film by Ronnie Close exploring the culture of Egypt’s Ultras; Paul Whitty’s field recording project Get Rid! featuring the ephemeral football soundscapes of the parish council pitches of South Oxfordshire; Davide Tidoni‘s studies of the sounding culture of the terraces of the Stadio Mario Rigamonti home of Brescia 1911; Duncan Whitley‘s archive of chants and sound from Coventry City’s erstwhile home Highfield Road and G D Parada his study of training sessions at Grupo Desportivo de Parada an amateur football club in Portugal; Darren Luke’s photographs of Cornish football; and Bethan Elford’s studies of song and singing – or the lack of them – at West Ham’s new home the London Stadium.

There are a number of publications associated with the project:

As part of Get Some Chalk On Your Boots! we published an anthology of short essays about football and the sounds of the everyday. Edited by Paul Whitty from SARU the publication includes contributions from writer and artist Juliet Jacques, composer Laurence Crane, poet and academic Steven Matthews, composer and writer Lauren Redhead, phonographer Patrick Tubin McGinley; artists Davide Tidoni and Duncan Whitley; photographer Darren Luke; and writer Ruth Potts.

The writing engages with the sounding cultures of football as sonic spectacle; as auditory delight; as a source of visceral electrifying energy; as a means of locating, identifying and articulating ourselves as political subjects. The sounds of football are part of our daily lives. The ephemeral grassroots soundings of parish council pitches. The buzz of late night radio commentary. The roar of the crowd seeping out into the night and spreading like a rm mist across nearby streets. The on-pitch communication of the players–stick it in the mixer! Corner flags whipped into sound-making action by the breeze. The crack as a ball strikes the crossbar. The thud of football on boot then grass and soil as the goalkeeper sends it long down field. The incessant voice of the popular media. The rattle of the line-marker and the slosh of paint as the pitch is marked out. The clatter of football boots on concrete or the sounds as they are struck together to remove mud. The resonant corridors of the stadium. Football talk at the pub–on the bus–in the cafe. The slam of plastic seats as the crowd stand– craning to see a corner. The con ict between the corporate stadium sound system and the oral culture of the Ultras. The cries of joy and despair. The referee’s whistle and the quiet calm–the void–of the stadium after the game, when the crowd has gone.

(Paul Whitty May 2018)

Get Rid! Paul Whitty (Book and Cassette) investigates the sounding culture of grassroots league football in Oxfordshire, Berkshire and farther afield in the Ligue de Football Nouvelle Aquitaine. The book documents the sounds of football happening – including transcriptions of on-pitch communication between players; and the sounds of football not happening – the everyday soundings of parish recreation grounds, village greens and recreation grounds. The book is accompanied by a cassette with field recordings.

ULTRAS MASHUP Davide Tidoni (12” Vinyl) 

The Sound Of Normalisation Davide Tidoni (Book and DVD) is a collection of audio recordings and a book of transcriptions documenting the sounding culture of the ultras group Brescia 1911 in relation to modern football and the wave of repressive measures targeted at organised supporters groups. The recordings were made over a period of fifteen years and cover: the creation uses and meanings of the chants used by the ultras; group principles and collective identity; audience participation and the process of social exclusion from the stadium; police repression and the political implication of the chants; and the evolution of drumming in the stadium in relation to the drums ban-order of 2007.

Get Some Chalk On Your Boots! also supported the completion and publication of Duncan Whitley’s archive of recordings made at Coventry City’s erstwhile home Highfield Road. You can access the archive HERE

Get Some Chalk On Your Boots!