As the season starts, amongst the many things supporters wonder about or the forthcoming year, there’s the minor issue of what music the team will come out of the tunnel to. This music seems to vary from season to season and sometimes even within a season, and the fact that it seems to change so much is constant source of irritation to me – although I may, of course, be on my own here, so this is very much a personal view!
What irritates me is that this is one of the few areas where a tradition can be created, because the song that a team comes out to becomes a key part of their identity – think of Everton and "Z Cars" for instance. That song has become such a part of the fabric of that club, so closely associated with them, that there’d be an outcry if that was ever discontinued. But at Reading we’ve changed songs so much that we’ve never let one develop that kind of association here.
It’s sad that whoever makes the decisions on music seems never to have the courage of their convictions, because as soon as a few people complain that they don’t like a song then it’s junked and something else takes its place. For me this is a pity, because it’s a policy destined to self-perpetuate –it’s a simple fact that music is such a personal and subjective thing that there is no tune in the world that everyone will like. Every song chosen will always be objected to by someone, if only because there are some people in the world – and especially on a well-known Biscuit-related fan-site – whose nature makes them object to everything they can. But with music it’s simply true that you can’t please all of the people any of the time.
But having accepted that any attempt to find music that keeps everyone happy will inevitably fail, what I’d like to see is the club bite the bullet, choose a tune, ignore the moaners and stick with that tune – and so give it a fair chance to develop into a tradition. Because when Everton first played "Z Cars" I bet there were people who didn’t like it, but as time went on and it became more and more Everton’s tune, then all of the objections surely melted away, and now it’s much loved and part of their heritage and tradition. But all traditions have to start somewhere, of course, and the only way to start our own is to choose a song and to stick to it. For I think that any song (as long as it’s "our" song, unique to us) is better than a constant chopping and changing of songs, and any one that we’re brave enough to stick with will grow on us as it becomes part of our heritage and tradition.
So go on, please, Reading FC – choose a tune and stick to it, and ignore those who don’t like it. Because although I’m always amongst the first to campaign in favour of supporter involvement in clubs’ decisions, this is one area where I think a decision needs to be made and stuck with. Democracy is all very well, but it doesn’t work when choosing subjective things like music.
The sad thing, in my mind, is that we did have a song which had a head start in being "ours," and which I regard to be perfect – not only is it pretty much unique to us (as far as I know) but it’s relevant and actually means something to Reading supporters. I’m talking about "Sweet Caroline" – which I can’t ever hear without remembering the glorious final months of the 2006 season. That song was adopted by the 106-point squad as a sort of "theme song" when they went abroad, and for me it evokes so many memories of that all-conquering team. Although that magical season was only 6 years ago, we already seem to have so few links left to it these days – so anything that helps brings those memories back would be a winner for me.
So personally I’d love to hear the players come out to "Sweet Caroline" - and for the clubs to stick with that music even if some people do bleat about it. Because the longer we stick with a song the less the bleating would become.
PS – Just for the avoidance of any doubt, I’m just talking about music that’s played as the teams enter the field, and nothing to do with music played after goal. That’s just an abomination and no music in will ever be appropriate for that - but it’s also quite another story!
Originally written in August 2011