I have seen a lot written in the last few days about atmosphere at the City Ground. A lot of soul searching about what's happened and where it's gone. This seems to also to go hand in hand with the Lower Bridgford Stand social media campaign to get an identity going down in there. I can only applaud the sentiment.
The old days are gone. Let's make no mistake there. The old Trent End, that lost its identity. And although never as vocal, I remember as a child stood on a milk crate loving the spirit and atmosphere on the old Colwick Road Terrace.
The thing is a lot of that has gone not just because of refurbishments but social changes. That’s a whole different blog for a different website, but the general idea of fan identity has changed. It basically comes down to price in my view. A breed of fan being priced out the game. But then it's possibly just a different mind-set.
There a number of things which I lament disappearing. We no longer seem to have a song for each player when they come out the tunnel. It used to start out with the favourites, moving ever down the list. It seemed every player almost had a unique chant. Now we just seem to take an off the shelf song and fit a player's name round it (usually the horrifically childish "super super chant", or "there's only one…"
For me I don't like that. It just feels lazy. There's no way 20-30 years ago we wouldn't have had unique chants for Chris Cohen. But instead we just lump it to a tune we know. And then there's simply seeing another successful chant elsewhere and mimicking it. It's not just Forest, everyone does it, and I think the TV saturation plays a part, but the whole Kolo Toure, Yaya Toure song going viral is annoying. I saw a fan somewhere saying we should adapt it for Forest and (he was a lot younger) a lot of older fans lambasting him for not coming up with something original. And this to me is frustrating. It just seems off the shelf ideas are the ones people take.
When we do get a newish song going, it's then just sung constantly till it swathes of fans begin to hate it. There's just not the rotation we used to have. And even then only starting out in the late 80's going to games I seem to have missed out on golden eras of chants.
I don't particular think this is something that’s anything to blame someone for. What I do think it's indicative of is the changing of stadium identity. Areas evolve away from what they might have been. What there is now is a generation of kids who see old videos or guys talking on Twitter and Forums and they want a slice of that. I can only support that.
What also didn’t help were Forest and or the Police trying to quell any troublesome parts of the stadium. And a vibrant area will attract a number of people that cause issues. So A Block started getting policed differently, and the stewards up in what was Capital One Corner get heavy handed. The thing is, if anything was particularly bad, fans would police themselves.
It's been spoken about that we need an ultra's vibe in a stand. Vibrant, vocal, colourful, and loud. The problem becomes if you trying to create something from essentially nothing it'd feel false. Completely manufactured.
I wrote in the last week or so about my match day experience in Germany, and it showed to me that it makes a better experience. In the game I attended both sets of fans rarely went quiet all game. Things like goal music weren't needed. The safns stayed behind the players.
I read a fair bit about how in Australia or America when new teams start they try to create identities and part of that is creating groups who will take part of the ground as theirs and start up songs, or fly banners and flags. Reading from the outside it always sounds false and manufactured, but in reality creating many differing groups who will have their own chants is a more organic approach than simply one top down grouping. By having fans of an identity and with social media presence, and meeting for a game together and forging a shared mentality would be a better experience than any single approach.
Something though is needed. I shall be retaining my place in the Trent End because, well I've been there 10 years now since re-joining the season ticket holder ranks, but I hope any attempt to create a better atmosphere works out.