Why is English football so popular? Is it just the fast paced, high tempo game? Low on technique but high on drama? Or is there something else that attracts the fans? Surely if you just go purely for the football you can view enough on your tv, laptop, iPad or phone? Why do so many want to enjoy the whole match day experience? Football grounds have always been full of characters, some edgy, criminals, tv celebs, big blokes covered in tattoos who look menacing. Groups of lads wearing stone island who want to be part of something. Something from an era not really associated with the suits who run the game or the studios with their gadgets analysing every bit of this modern theatre.
This may seem melodramatic but when the Armageddon season happens and West Ham are relegated who will fill the stadium? We know the ground is littered now with not only tourists but local day trippers too. Fans who want to watch this affordable prem in this world class stadium. What happens when Rotherham or Coventry come to visit? Where will the tourists be then? At Tottenham’s new ground? Chelsea? One thing is for certain, the loyal supporter who was at the Boleyn, drinking in the Vic, Lion or Stanley will still want to meet up with their mates, escape their lives for a day and have a day out. We don’t want to lose them, many may have moved out but this is still their club too. Whilst last season was great it could be argued the football has got in the way of a good day out in the preceding few seasons.
All seater stadia require fans to be seated but is that realistic? Does anyone expect fans to sit and applaud when Payet strokes a worldy into the top corner? The problem is that when attacks start to get exciting even the sitters stand up. The young or elderly will still miss the exciting bits as its a natural instinct to those who actually love the game but not necessarily the razzmatazz. So sitting doesn’t seem to be a solution either.
What we need as a minimum is a family area, there are a lot of kids now and they don’t all need to hear that Carroll is a useless c*** or Ogbonna should f*** off back to Italy. They also can’t all stand on seats, some parents will still take their kids into the BML or other known standing areas and that’s their right. They can’t have too many complaints though if they miss a goal. The upper tiers should house the families, elderly and less able should be in the front few rows. West Ham fans are on the whole decent people and certainly show loyalty to other hammers, they don’t want to purposely obstruct someone’s view. A trawl of websites like KUMB or Westhamonline shows that, calling out and banning “fans” who try selling tickets at over inflated value. This is dividing fans and needs some promises from the club rather than threats. The fans have attracted praise in the past for being the 12th man, making the Boleyn an intimidating ground. Ex players from all clubs have a wry smile when the chicken run is mentioned, ex hammers loved it, others a bit fearful.
Let’s not lose that atmosphere, lets harness it, it may take a few seasons for fans to migrate to certain areas but let’s work together on this. Ticket swaps are a start and trying to allocate children to upper tiers.
Once that atmosphere goes then for many the season ticket goes with it, we are at risk of seeing all the experts predictions come true of “they’ll never fill it” should we not work together? This wasn’t a huge issue at the Boleyn and we need to make sure it’s not a huge issue at the London Stadium.
Really well written article
Really struggling to see how a solution to the sit/stand argument is going to come about. Personally I don’t agree that somebody should be restricted to sitting in an upper tier because they want to sit down. I’ve been going to WH for 16 years, 6 of which I spent working full time there. I sing my heart out, jeer when required (not at our own!) and go all out to support the boys. But I sit. Assuming that standing areas are implemented, what happens when they’re full and people stand for 90 mins in other areas? I think perhaps as you say, within a season or so everything will settle and people will stand behind the goals, the rest will sit everywhere else. But so-called ‘safe standing’ areas are a million miles away, not least because that would require MORE costly construction to the stadium and I really can’t see our landlord allowing it any time soon…
Great article. We need a solution and soon. I’m in the BML and would prefer to stand, and knew what to expect. But if the person behind me doesn’t want to stand, I won’t either within reason, as I won’t purposely spoil their view.
However, I am concerned the people in my area of the BML seem to have changed every game so far this season. Me and my daughter seem to be the only constants in each of the 4 games.
I feel we need to (1) Designate areas where standing is acceptable, perhaps the BML etc (2) Set up a family seating area in the upper & lower tiers (3) Designate strict seating areas & enforce moves for persistent offenders who stand into (1).
Persistent offenders would receive a letter as a warning and then be moved after 3 strikes. I suspect this wouldn’t happen much as most people don’t want to be moved away from their group.
Ps. I prefer to stand but the Bournemouth game highlighted the problem & having 18 year old kids as stewards isn’t the answer.
Good article with some decent points of view.