At Anoeta, the Real Sociedad football stadium, they love to try artificial means of boosting participation and vocalising support. Thankfully, most people just ignore them and sink further into the seats, a halo of embarrassment hovering above the stadium’s 25-year-old concrete crown of thorns architecture, which is about to undergo a “remodelling” which will make it look like every other modern football stadium in the world. Whenever Real Sociedad win a corner, the Tannoy system plays the drumbeat from Queen’s rabble-rousing anthem We Will Rock You. We supporters are supposed to clap along or something. But it is not the original Queen version, and the original Queen version is not a drumbeat anyway. It is four people stamping on microphoned-up wooden boards, a technique gleaned from Motown records such as Where Did Our Love Go by The Supremes. In the case of Motown, the stomping was done by a little kid of Italian origin who used to hang around the studio. You can read all about this, and even find out his name, if so inclined. I know about Queen and their wooden boards because I watched a DVD of their videos with the commentary switched on. It was very cold when they did their video (in somebody’s garden). I expect they wore bovver boots. If you are walking for any length of time, it is best not to wear bovver boots because they are too heavy. This very heavisosity is what makes them ideal for board-stomping. The Real Sociedad version of We Will Rock You, besides lacking the depth, resonance and tension of bovver boots stomping on wooden boards, is slightly too fast. I think the handclaps are machine generated and therefore tinny. Consequently, Real Sociedad rarely score from corners. I sold the Queen DVD, which is a shame, because I now have a strong urge to watch it and marvel at its inconsequentiality. I once went to an exhibition of Queen paraphernalia in an old warehouse or workshop near Brick Lane. I am not much bothered about Queen, but it was an interesting diversion. Google suggests Freddie Mercury generally wore normal Adidas shoes, which is a bit of a let-down for the purposes of this essay. I suppose his onstage exertions ruled out bovver boots or glam rock platform shoes. I could buy the Queen DVD again second-hand, but by the time it arrives I will have snapped out of the urge to watch it. Besides, it was mostly just them moaning about Top of the Pops camera angles. Despite the tinny quality of the recording used at the football, it is hard not to tap your feet along (quietly). In winter, such foot-stomping is the best way to keep warm, or at least freeze slightly less. The footballers, whose professional title exalts the role of feet more than any other, nowadays wear boots of many colours, usually fluorescent. My daughter asks me why. The only reason I can come up with is because they draw the attention of television viewers, helping to sell more pairs of replica boots down at the sports shop. Conversely (pun intended), football boots are now much cheaper than they used to be. Presumably, this is because they no longer use leather, at least at kiddie level. The most prominently displayed boots in the shops are those bearing the name of either Messi or Ronaldo, tax-dodgers both.

At a recent football match a plastic seat landed on my head and those of my neighbour and a small child sitting in front. It was a shock. I looked up, only to see the creaking concrete underside of the tier above. My neighbour on the other side, untouched but touchy, turned around and started yelling, demanding to know the identity of the culprit. It was obvious who was responsible for the flying seat: the spotty gorm sitting behind an empty space where a seat used to be. It transpired that he had, in a fit of pique designed to signal his displeasure at a missed opportunity by the home team, booted the seat in front of him, and said seat had gone flying. He was keeping very quiet while the accusations were flying, with the falsely-accused defending themselves a little over-zealously, spit-flecks flying. The small child sitting in front of me was in tears, more from the shock of receiving a bucket seat blow to the head than the pain engendered. By now, the culprit was standing up in a faux-aggressive stance, bellowing, “Come here and say that!” to the assembled haranguers. Because I thought the crying child deserved better, I lifted my feet one by one over the back of my seat to the row behind, willing my body to defy gravity, and repeated the process twice more until I was standing on the same row as the culprit and gently pointed out to him that he had done an idiotic thing, that I knew it wasn’t intentional, but it might be a good idea to just apologise instead of going on the warpath. He did apologise (to me) but his mother or whatever was vociferous in his defence because he hadn’t done it on purpose. I said that intentions were immaterial in the face of a crying child. The final whistle blew and people started heading for the exits and that was that. I am normally a very calm person, inclined to keep out of things. I do not hurl abuse at the referee or the opposition and I do not gesticulate wildly in what often appears to me to be a pre-scripted dance of pseudo-aggression, so this minor incident made me wonder what I was doing there at the football stadium, and it took me a few hours to regain my usual level of composure. The reactions of those around me had been a surprise. There has been no trouble since, although I have noticed that some of the people involved have not returned. The moral of this story is never kick a stadium seat because they are not as firmly attached as they look.