One thing that struck me whilst watching the recent Albania versus England World Cup qualifier in Tirana, in a stadium largely devoid of spectators due to Covid-19 restrictions, was how badly sung were the national anthems prior to kick-off.
It perhaps also says something about the quality of the ensuing match that this thought remained uppermost in my mind at the end of the 90 minutes.
Now, I am not blaming the players for their lack of singing prowess. It is not in their job description to have perfect pitch or to possess the ability to carry a note––after all, not everyone can be blessed with the dulcet tones of a Barnes, or a Hoddle, or a Waddle––and it is difficult enough to make God Save the Queen sound anything more than a ponderous dirge at the best of times, but the presence of a large crowd singing along does tend to disguise the individual choral deficiencies of the eleven, good and true.
I think some kind of technological intervention is required. Where it is now possible to customise the match-day home experience with options for crowd noise and commentary, I suggest some kind of modulation for the national anthems: press the red button for Katherine Jenkins; the blue button for Boe and Ball; or the green button for the Sex Pistols.
Or just press mute.
© Donnie Blake
Donnie Blake limbers up prior to his audition with the Three Tenors.