Every Pitch is a Stage, Every Match a Performance

Every Pitch is a Stage, Every Match a Performance
January 14, 2019 Chris Rowland
In Subscribers Only, Talking Point


by David Fitzgerald (TTT Subscriber Madchenkliop).

The pitch is a stage OR ethereal rhythms OR professionalism vs inspiration OR picking up the rhythm in a vacuum OR let’s all give some love to Naby Keita

(Warning!  I deliberately mix my metaphors between music and football in this piece!)

It’s the big one, the gig of your life. It’s a bit traumatic – a bit like being born. You step out onto the stage and are met by a crackle of anticipation from the heaving crowd, (if you’re lucky enough to have one!). Your senses are hit by a surge of sensation.

– Your eyes must adjust – from the claustrophobic closeness and lighting of the dressing room and corridors, to leap hundreds of feet to the extremity of the venue and all the countless variations in depth perception (down to the length of the blades of grass! 😉 ). You must acclimatise to the dazzle of floodlights and spot lights; the variations from one venue to another can be a whole sub-plot in itself.  Sometimes you can’t see the people – only hear them.  Sometimes you don’t want to!

– Sound: From being accustomed to the controlled environment of a practice room or pitch where your hearing is acute enough to sense the approach of an electric car, it’s suddenly like Waterloo station. From delighting in the perfection of a situation where you’re riding on the clear rhythm of the other players, you’re hearing so many unfamiliar sounds that confuse your ability to locate yourself, (not to mention the problem of people sneaking up behind you). In a musical gig it can be so bad that you have to rely on sight to pick up the rhythms and harmonies of other band members (imagine an away fixture at Red Star Belgrade). Of course, a lot of the time you can hear, but even then, especially if you are not doing it regularly, subtle differences and unfamiliar sounds can be impossibly distracting or hard to block out.

– Touch and smell – your stomach brain reacts with heightened urgency to little details without you even consciously knowing it. Your bodily rhythms, the temperature, the way your clothes feel, the smell of your teammates’ sweat (another thing possibly overlooked, except not by Troy Deeney!); all have tiny effects on your performance. God only knows your digestive system can take on a life of its own. I’ll never forget (or stop laughing at!) the plight of one lead singer who had to rush to the toilet literally the moment we were about to step on stage.

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