Can we return to silent tribute?

Jon Brahams Saddened, of course, by the deaths of Graham Paddon and Ken Nethercott, I had hoped to 'pay my respects' at Carrow Road. Sadly, despite attending both the subsequent home games, I still don't feel I've been able to do that.

Jon Brahams

Saddened, of course, by the deaths of Graham Paddon and Ken Nethercott, I had hoped to 'pay my respects' at Carrow Road. Sadly, despite attending both the subsequent home games, I still don't feel I've been able to do that.

Just what is it with the “minute's applause”? I seem to recall that it started with George Best; maybe it was somehow appropriate to a roistering superstar famed for his antics in bed and bar as much as his unparalleled talent. But there was already a thoroughly suitable way to pay tribute to departed heroes, and I fail to understand why silence is no longer the medium.

From Cenotaph to cathedral, flanked by bugles or gunfire or tears, the minute's silence has endured as the symbol of commemoration precisely because it is such a deeply fitting act. And the silencing of 20, 30, 60,000 voices for those thoughtful, “stop-all-the-clocks” moments seemed to me a humbling and uplifting experience. Amidst the “minute's applause” we can still greet a latecomer, slurp a coffee, discuss team selection: amidst the silence there is only the silence - and no distraction from the remembrance.


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I've heard it suggested that applause is deemed easier to guarantee than silence. Well, I must have witnessed more than a hundred minute's silences over the years, and aside from the occasional shush-ed idiot I can't ever remember it being seriously spoiled. And the suspension of hostilities between the rival supporters felt somehow more meaningful when we were similarly suspending our matchday metier of making a noise. If some Big Brother in a boardroom has decided that the fans can't be trusted to show respect any more, then cynicism has triumphed.

Some may feel that a round of clapping is in some way more apt to honour a stadium hero; an entertainer. But surely the crux here is that for just one minute we are all thinking beyond football, and remembering a man whose life has ended. Then, after the silence, comes the unstoppable, galvanizing surge of noise all around the stadium as human compassion mutates into football passion. Nothing about the “minute's applause” replicates either the emotion of the silence or the life-affirming intensity of the following roar. We will inevitably lose another Carrow Road legend before long: can we please then put an end to this voguish aberration and offer a meaningful, dignified, silent tribute?

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