Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Stand up for your right....to stand up at football matches

Spoken to a number of people since the Cup final on Sunday and I've heard various accounts of Spurs fans arguing and in some instances fighting amongst themselves. Ironic that before kick off I was chatting to the Old Bill and one officer in particular who has to police the Millwall home games. He spoke about how Millwall fans just fight each other if opposing fans don't offer a challenge.

"They just fight for the sake of it. It's like something from the 80's. We're hoping they don't get promoted this season"

He also said it was a welcome break to be surrounded by 'proper fans'. Obviously, he'd have changed his mind a little if he witnessed one or two of the scuffles that took place in the ground after kick-off. It’s nothing new. I've witnessed it at away games on several occasions.

Some people want to stand and watch the game. Others want to sit.

Obviously, you'll find fathers of kids protesting for obvious reasons if the people in front are standing up. And in some parts of the ground, making most of the seat you’ve paid for is the only reasonable thing to do simply because of the distance you are to the pitch. But down in the lower tiers and behind the goal, it’s altogether a different culture. It’s almost a necessity to stand. Singing when sitting on your bum is ridiculous. And let’s face it, when your team drives forward, everyone gets off their seats in anticipation of a goal anyway. Sitting down only ever seems to happen out of pure boredom if the game is inciting sleep.

I was 'sat' in block 134 and spent the entirety of the game standing up, with practically everyone around me doing the same thing, but then we're behind the goal so its almost expected to be the case much like it is at the Park Lane end at White Hart Lane and various other grounds across the country. Nobody asks anyone to sit down because its just the way it is.

It's a ridiculous situation to have fans turn on each other. No idea what the police and steward response time was for all the pockets of punch-ups that broke out. But I’ll come back to this in a moment.

So what about a resolution? Designated standing areas would work a treat for people who want to stand at games. Can't fathom why it’s such a major headache for clubs and stewards to cater for. We get the usual 'sit down or lose your seat' propaganda at Spurs with a little emotional blackmail thrown in about how the council could close down stands us punishment to the club for fans persistently standing.

Is it to do with fire hazard regulations? Health and Safety? If you're sat down, you'll have to bleeding well stand up to leave the stand anyway. The fact there are seats at games means over-crowding is impossible, so what's the problem? Not a single Wembley steward at any point in time walked over to ask us to sit down. Was it because we stood behind the goal near the pitch and not high up in the Gods? If so, is this admittance that’s its actually ok for fans to stand up at games and stewards and police don’t bother with a polite ‘sit down please’?

Elsewhere, if it’s not permitted (up in the Gods or upper tiers) I can understand why it would be a nuisance to the majority if a minority stand. Stewards should be enforcing the policy that in those areas, people must be sat down. Allowing people to stand will lead to other fans asking them to sit, which then leads to arguments and fights. So all the pockets of punch ups that occurred on Sunday could have been stopped if stewards and police acted more responsible by instructing people to sit.

Time for clubs to listen to the fans. Some of us want to stand. It makes for better atmosphere. And the best place for it is behind the goals. If its made known this is an official designated ‘standing area’ of the ground and a no-standing policy is policed in other areas of the ground, then people will respect that. Considering alcohol can no longer be consumed in view of the pitch (works fine in Germany) and at times supporters can be punished for colourful language and get charged a small fortune for the privilege, I think it’s time we had some slack cut for us.

Or maybe I should accept defeat and admit that going to the football is no longer the escapism it once was and is instead neatly packaged family oriented entertainment for the middle class that like their ribs and wine at half time.


Anonymous said...

Completely agree with the sentiment of the article. Standing up in specially designated areas would work fine for me.

landells said...

I was up in Block 535 and stood the whole match - the dude in front of me was standing which meant I had to stand (not that I was upset about it) so I asked the guys behind me if the minded me standing and they were happy about it so there was no issues - there was a lot of people standing. Stewards came past several times and never once asked anyone to sit

I've noticed that standing seems to causing agro at the Lane this season: I'm only a club member so take a seat wherever I get one (usually opt for upstairs at the Park Lane) and have witnessed quite a few heated exchanges - no violence but some unpleasant scenes. I haven't really noticed it in previous seasons so perhaps after a few seasons of moderate success and promise has meant the crud start to this season is making people more irritable

A designated standing area would be a great idea

Anonymous said...

As you say, it can't be a health and safety issue otherwise they would insist people sit down before the game and at half time.

We can stand up at concerts and festivals and gigs where numbers of people far exceed that of a particular football stand.

You could have a few more people allowed in, charge a bit less and increase the atmosphere. We can't drink or smoke in the stands now anyway so that wont be an issue.

We are 20 years on from Hillsborough and i think now is the time to rethink how fans watch their football.

Anonymous said...

We tend to have to sit stand sit stand sit stand at a number of away games. Anfield and OT are examples where even the home fans get it in the neck from stewards. Doubt they would allow a standing stand considering the amount of energy and money being spent on marginalising the game.

filthy said...

We are 20 years on from Hillsborough and i think now is the time to rethink how fans watch their football.

Football fans are patronised constantly and I doubt the Government or footballing authorities give a rats arse about us. It will take a club to try and implement changes in house and force everyone to rethink how fans watch the game from the stands.

There is no reason for us not to stand other than bullshit politics.

Anonymous said...

Agree with everything that's been said. Let us stand, behind the goal is a perfect spot for it. Seems the raw energy of football supporting is being drained out of us.

Shelf Side Warrior said...

Park Lane and South stand lower in the corner near the PL has fans that like to be vocal and like to stand up. I'd be more than chuffed to see these parts of the ground become designated standing areas.

Anonymous said...

I have to say that WHL is the only ground where we get told to sit down, I'm a club member too, and always try to sit in Park Lane, every away game I've been to, fulham, chelsea, man utd, everton,villa & sheffield united I stood all game and never once been pulled up about it

Anonymous said...

totally agree more with your article. as long as it's not a problem regarding health and safety, i think having a designated standing area is a great idea - after all, there is already the north stand designated as a 'family stand', if parents want to bring their kids, sit them in there. that way, if they end up in the south stand, at least theyve been warned that people will be standing. gotta love the guy who walks tirelessly up and down the park lane end trying to get people to sit down though - he wont give up, and always has a smile!!

spooky said...

Ah yes. I know the steward you are referring to. Bit of a dweeb, bless him. Nobody takes notice of him but I guess he has to follow directives.

Oracle said...

With you all the way Spooky. Footballs is a completely different animal to what it was 15 years ago. More so 25 years ago.

Martin said...

Couldnt agree more with the above. The German League allow 10% of the ground to be standing during league games, but because they didnt want to loose any revenue in European fixtures (due to Uefa demanding all seater stadiums) they have seats built into the terraces, see link below:


Cant see why we cant try to follow this lead in the new stadium??