Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Why it would be a crime to return to standing at football grounds...

For those among us that advocate the return of standing areas to football stadia, I have a message - you have either got a very bad memory or, worse still, a highly selective one.

From a supporter that can vividly remember standing at matches, in certain situations, was certainly no fun and, in many cases, downright dangerous. Do any Red's recall going to Derby's old ground, the baseball ground in the seventies? Thinking back, I'm glad to have got out alive.

One of my greatest moments of watching United (and there have been many) was an FA Cup 6th round replay against Wolves at Moleneux in 1976. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the South Bank at Moleneux was the largest standing area in the country at the time. United fans packed, sardine like, into every nook and cranny. It was a marvellous occasion with us coming back from 2-0 down to win 3-2 after extra time. Only retrospectively can I mention just how appallingly dangerous this situation was. Close on 20,000 celebrating Mancunians, falling over each other. It was so packed some had difficulty in getting back to their feet. Going to the toilet? forget it. By the time you'd have made it to the loo, it'd have been too late and forget about ever getting back on the terraces.

The last great "United we Stand Together" was in January 2001 at an FA Cup game at Fulham. They weren't in the premiership then and had no need to comply with the set rules. Yes, it was a great atmosphere and yes, I did enjoy the camaraderie. What can't be dismissed is that had anyone fallen over in this crowd, there would have been a concertina effect and Lord knows what would have happened to the "weakest link"?

Of course, the Hillsborough disaster was an extreme case. However most football fans, whilst disturbed by the disaster, were not in any way surprised. It was a case of when, not if. Incidentally, I've been in the Leppings Lane end when there was an even larger crowd - there go by the grace of God.

It took far too long for the football stadia of this country to reach this century with decent, safe facilities. It would be an absolute crime to go back to the dark-ages.


1 comment:

  1. As someone who used to stand on the United Road terrace circa 1980 I agree with your comment

    “It was a case of when, not if”

    In a time when surging forward just for the hell of it was normal I was on many occasions actually terrified & it was only for the fact that because it had not happened (death on the terraces) that I believed that I was ultimately safe.

    So whilst I agree that there had to be a change from the way things were, as there often must be in life, I don’t agree with a complete ban.

    Times have changed & so has both our ( the fans) & the police understanding of crowd control. I believe it is simple a case of having the right design & correctly accounting for the numbers of fans allowed in. something which can easily be done in this day & age.

    There is definitely room for a standing terrace behind each of the goals at OT at a reduced ticket price as well.

    We should be accommodating all kinds of fans with their differing opinions because it is they that are paying through the nose to keep the game alive.


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