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.