Whooping up a football crowd: from roars to windmills

Few football phenomena are undocumented today. Despite much study, I cannot locate anything about whooping up. Neither podcast nor TikTok video.

I had to coin “whooping up” because it has no name. We’ve all seen footballers turn their back to the pitch and wave their arms to yell, “Roar, damn you!” Do we roar, those who prefer to talk at matches.

It suggests something important about our relationship with ball-kicking entertainers. Because no other arena requires us to obey affluent people. We don’t rush to live those company principles when our managers want us to.

We don’t sympathize with Jacob Rees-Mogg’s whining about his tough choices that lead to nurses and single parents’ newfound destitution. But when a 20-something millionaire begs us to appreciate his work, we do.

It didn’t always. No footage shows Stan Mortensen flexing in front of Blackpool fans, baggy shorts taut, neck vein pulsing.

Stuart Pearce’s Euro 96 penalty celebration, in which he appeared to invite his fans to a car park fight, may have started it. Or Mick Channon’s windmill goal celebration. Nobody knows.

As with many spontaneous sporting remarks, it has been twisted beyond recognition. Because whoever started it was instinctive.

An emotional moment between athlete and spectators. Silver thread of love and commitment. He seemed to say, “We need you!” “We’re here,” several shouted. Actually stirring when done well. More often, it’s not.

Whoop-up rules exist. When you win a corner, say, “Shout louder and we might score that goal we’ve looked nothing like scoring for the entire game so far.” When recovering from a legal, meaty tackle, a defender can do one.

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It’s impossible after a sloppy backpass or cut clearing into touch. It won’t be as popular. Timing matters too. Most whoop-ups occur late in games. Turgid, dismal, concede goal, halftime, turgid, devoid minor success, WHOOP-UP. After five minutes, we’d be chilled.

Who whoops matters too. We responded to Pearce because he might have run through a brick wall to help. The club captain or grizzled journeyman can tell us to put wind in his sails and VapoRub on his tired thighs.

But the Manchester City loanee? Certainly not.

Whooping is a communal moment, so these rules matter. A chance to interact with remote gamers and feel like portly, pie-wielding plebeians can make a difference if we shout more.

Breaking the rules will make the whoop-up worthless, like the “Can you hear us on the box?” chant.

England played Italy in October, and Jude Bellingham attempted three whoop-ups. His football skills are impressive, but he’s too young to be happy. Like many of us at his age, he’s still developing his social abilities.

He stared at the grass for all three whoop-ups. This is whoop-up 101. Eye contact is required. He also exuberated throughout the first half, which lacks urgency. Even at Wembley, the beautiful cathedral of meaningless gestures, the fans screamed.

It was a pallid “England-at-Wembley” roar, but they did it. A wealthy almost-teenager with free clothes lifted his arms, and the throng cheered.

You know what’s next. The under 10s will rejoice Saturday morning when they point to the sky in honor of granddad, alive and well in Epping, and their mothers, suede boots wrecked in the touchline muck, will cheer.

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Because magic dies that way. Pop groups talk about “fanbases”. Publishing deals for gangsters. Children cheer their parents for a first-half free kick. Note it. Year the whoop-up perished.

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