Thursday, November 18, 2004

Stand up and be counted

Charlton blog All Quiet In The East Stand has an interesting post about the possibility of reintroducing terraced areas at grounds. Inspector Sands endorses the argument that "making people sit at football has led to a tendency for fans to expect entertainment, like you would in a cinema". Standing, he suggests, would provide a solution to the problem of passivity and passionless spectators, making them feel more involved.

On the one hand, in many ways I think it's a good thing that we've come a long way from the 70s and 80s - violence and racism are no longer as much of an issue as they once were (though neither has gone away entirely - see above post), and grounds are much safer post-Hillsbrough.

On the other hand, I, like the Inspector, am dismayed at the gentrification and corporatisation of football, which leaves the fans more distanced - literally and metaphorically - from the game and from the club they support. Without a doubt something needs to be done to stop this seemingly inexorable change, and, whilst the reintroduction of standing areas would not be a panacea, it would certainly help to enliven the crowd.

I know I'm not alone as a Newcastle fan in bemoaning the lack of atmosphere at St James's Park, and the sense that punters are sitting back, arms crossed, passively demanding entertainment rather than actively calling for it and offering vocal support and encouragement. That they are prepared to spend vast sums of money and travel great distances often just to watch 90 minutes of toss illustrates why away fans should be regarded as the most passionate, but isn't there perhaps also a connection between the fact that Newcastle fans away from home are noisy in a good-natured way and the fact that for all or most of the game they insist on standing, much to the annoyance of pedantic home stewards?

Further information about the campaign to turn back the clock can be found at Stand Up Sit Down (thanks to QPR Jon for the link).


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