Headingley silences Barmy Army trumpeter
Wednesday 05 August 2009
The Barmy Army, that noisy crowd that follows the England cricket team wherever it goes, will be marching into battle this weekend minus a trumpet.
Billy the Trumpet, whose playing is arguably the only component of the din that comes out of the Barmy Army enclosure that is at all pleasing to the ear, has been banned from the Headingley ground, where the fourth test begins tomorrow.
The ban also applies to Vic Flower, the beanpole Jimmy Saville lookalike, who acts as the army’s chief cheerleader – if he brings a flag.
Their absence will please some of traditional lovers of the game who share the sentiments of The Independent’s commentator, Dominic Lawson, whose column in Tuesday was a tirade against the “boorish chauvinism” of this famous section of the England crowd. But it will come as a cruel disappointment for the 1,000 fans who booked tickets via the Barmy Army in anticipation of a loud and crazy day at the cricket.
The Headingley ground, in Leeds, has recently been having serious crowd problems. When England played South Africa there last year, 81 people were ejected. This year, on professional advice they are clamping down on distractions that might cause spectators to pay more attention to what is happening in the crowd than to the game.
That means the two quintessential components of barminess, the trumpet and the man in the silly hat, are out.
A disappointed Billy the Trumpet, otherwise known as Billy Cooper, was on holiday in Spain yesterday, hoping that other cricket grounds do not follow Headingley’s lead. He is not the average hard drinking cricket lout, but a classical musician trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, who earns his living playing in various orchestra and west end shows.
His membership of the Barmy Army originated with the 2004 Test series, when he and friends from the world of music decided to go to the Caribbean to watch the Test. He took his trumpet for practise, and lost it in Barbados.
Luckily, it was handed in and when he went to reclaim it, he played a few bars to prove that it was his. Some of the Barmy Army heard him, and pleaded with him to accompany them to South Africa that Christmas, offering to pay his fare. “I was a bit dubious at first, but they were giving me a free holiday,” he said yesterday.
“I don’t think I have done anything personally to provoke a ban,” he added.
“I think that when things are getting a little bit fruity, singing a song to the sound of a trumpet can change the atmosphere, and make it less edgy. But they’ve obviously taken the decision to tackle the problem of crowd behaviours, and once they’ve decided that, they’re going to stick to their guns.”
Vic Flower could not be contacted yesterday, but Katy Cooke, who has organised the Barmy Army for nine years, described his reaction to the ban.
“He was incandescent with rage. He takes these things very personally. But I explained to him that they don’t want distractions, and he is a distraction because he’s such a character. People recognise him and want his autograph.
“It’s very disappointing for us. I’ve got 1,000 people who have bought their tickets through the Barmy Army, and they’re going to come away thinking this was a poor man’s Barmy Army. We’re going in with a couple of limbs missing.”
An ECB spokesman said, however, he would be allowed in if he turned up with a ticket but no flag.
Daniel Sturridge injury: Alongside Luis Suarez, how the Liverpool SAS may FAIL to become the most lethal partnership in Premier League history
CM Punk's WWE future 'to be determined' according to leaked Monday Night Raw script
Liverpool: Four remaining fixtures - can they stay top of the Premier League table?
Diego Costa transfer to Chelsea impossible to stop, admits Diego Simeone
Barcelona 1 Real Madrid 2 match report: Gareth Bale scores wonder goal to claim Copa del Rey for Real
- 1 Poveglia: 'World's most haunted island' up for sale...is anyone brave enough to buy it?
- 2 Big Bang Theory to get special Star Wars episode with help from Lucasfilm
- 3 Babies cry at night to stop mothers procreating, scientists claim
- 4 Pharrell Williams 'Happy': British Muslims dance to song in video
- 5 24 people applied for the 'world's toughest job', here are their interviews
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
US Navy christens huge $3 billion destroyer ship USS Zumwalt that appears as a fishing boat on enemy radar
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
Nigel Farage on Have I Got News For You: Ukip leader ridiculed over expenses and party 'fruitcakes'
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back