There is a crowd and there is expectation. There is a performance and there is passion.
It is football. It is music.
Tangled deep within the spider’s web of British culture, you’ll find the two bound closely together.
Bands F.C. are well aware of this. Their website premise begins simply: “Bands as Football Teams, Football Teams as Bands.”
Essentially, what they do is design football badges for bands.
During the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Nick Fraser and Mark Liptrott came up with the idea. They soon found the appetite for a music and football combination was insatiable.
Fraser explains: “Within three weeks we were doing an exhibition at the National Football museum. And then another few weeks after that we were in New York, and then six months later the Royal Albert Hall.”
From this position of popularity, Bands F.C. wanted to make a difference. Fortunately, the positive reaction to their creative designs afforded them a platform to do so.
Last year they worked with Britpop legends Pulp to create a football shirt design that imbedded the band’s iconography in the style of Sheffield Wednesday’s kit.
“It was a massive undertaking and we raised £35,000 in one day for Sheffield Children’s Hospital,” Fraser says of the shirts that recently went on sale again, once more for the benefit of the same charity.
— Bands FC (@_Bands_FC) November 6, 2019
Fraser explains the success of the collaboration, saying: “Most bands have a bit of a social conscience. But, especially these days while touring and writing, it’s actually hard for them to make a difference.
“It’s good for them [musicians] to have outsiders, like us, who come in and say: ‘if you okay this design, we can make it into shirts and send them to people, and do all that.'”
Accurately summing up the ethos of group, are their designs which defiantly state: “Love Music, Love Football, Hate Racism.”
And racism is a depressingly relevant topic in the footballing world, one that requires many difficult conversations to be held, and not avoided.
Jack Jones – lead singer of Trampolene and guitar/vocalist with Peter Doherty & The Puta Madres – reaches the subject naturally when discussing the social and cultural importance of football and music.
“At the moment, there seems to be more problems with racism,” he says. “It is important, that these people [musicians and footballers] are putting a good message out there. Not one of seclusion and rejection.
“Everyone has a responsibility to be, basically, just fucking polite to one another.
“These people have a lot of say in how people live their lives. So you want to be saying truthful things and not hurtful things. I definitely think they do have some sort of social responsibility,” reasons Jones.
The 27-year-old turns his thoughts to the ugly scenes that marred England’s recent fixture against Bulgaria – a game in which Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford, and Tyrone Mings were all subjected to racist chants.
“It felt like I was watching a mad dystopian film. Absolutely shocking,” said Jones.
“It seems to be, for some reason, football brings it out in people. I don’t know why that would be, because I’m not saying it doesn’t exist in all walks of life. It obviously does. There’s just something about that kind of tribalism.”
The great unanswered question, sparking debate after debate on the matter, is what can be done during games? And should players should walk off the pitch?
Jones grapples with the idea: “That’s what they should do,” he agrees, before adding, “but then it almost feels like the racists win.”
He shifts the issue into a musical context: “In a gig situation, when there is security, they can just grab that person and eject them.
“So if Peter [Doherty] heard anyone doing that in one of his gigs – if he pointed at that person and said get them out – they’d be gone within a second.
“I don’t know why they don’t do that in a football situation. Surely that would work, especially when you look at the England, Bulgaria game where it was so obvious who was doing it.”
It is a debate which will rage on in football until certain governing bodies take more decisive action. But in the musical world at least the issue seems less prevalent.
Jones goes on to explain that he has fortunately never witnessed discriminatory behaviour at one of his gigs. It’s just football, as the 27-year-old puts it, “Seems to bring out the craziness in a few knobheads.”
It’s this idiocy, that Jones refers to, which makes it so important that both musicians and footballers use their platforms to spread the right kind of ideals.
It can be Mario Balotelli calling out the racist behaviour of fans in Italy.
It can be Jack Jones writing songs that critique societal issues of Britain.
Or it can be groups like Bands F.C. placing music and football side by side to raise money for charities and send out anti-racism messages.
They each have a crowd who will listen. So they all should continue speak.