Shhh... We're Playing Football

I would like you to imagine something ridiculous – the Superbowl, with silent spectators. Imagine that huge Houston stadium cheering on the rivals in a whisper.

Well, in one famous place in England, that's exactly how we conduct our national sporting obsession with soccer.

All over this country, millions of eager soccer fans follow their favourite teams and yell their heads off. Except in Cambridge. Home of the world renowned University, and home of the local Cambridge City soccer club. The only soccer club in Britain, probably the only soccer club in the world, where you are forbidden to make a noise. Cambridge City fans used to bang drums to celebrate every goal. Not any more.

Cambridge City fans once had a special raucous song to encourage the team – it went something like this: CAM – BRIDGE, OY OY OY !

But, ever since the decibel police got involved, the chorus has been gagged. You might think these rules were imposed to prevent disturbance to the academic studies of diligent students. It's a nice idea, but completely wrong. In fact Cambridge University students used to go the soccer club deliberately to let off steam. Now the club they loved has become more like a monastery. When Cambridge's star players were disciplined for incidents on the pitch, it was wonderful to hear the crowd rise like a choir: "The referee's a loony!" they'd happily sing.

It's all banned now. You see, Cambridge's soccer ground is slap bang in the middle of the City, next to an old folks hostel, and some flashy new houses. The flashy house-owners didn't like the noise, kicked up a fuss ... and won. The old folks never complained. In fact you can still see them wildly waving their walking sticks whenever Cambridge scores a goal – but now they do it in total silence.

By Ed Boyle
  • Bob Bicknell

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