AWAY from the hallowed Anfield turf, issues close to every Reds’ (and hopefully everyone else’s) heart have been gathering pace for the last few months, and that once so distant light at the end of road is getting bigger and brighter.
The charity single was released and clinched the Christmad no.1 slot, and we gained news that the families, who leave me absolutely humbled and in awe, are that bit closer to the justice they have been criminally denied for so long. However, we could be once again discussing the issue of standing in grounds and even more horrifically, nets separating the fans from the pitch!?!?!
Personally I can’t believe these issues are still present and garner so much support from those involved in the game. For what it is worth I want to give my thoughts on each and I hope you do too. I also hope people from other clubs get a chance to read this and contribute…
I am a huge football fan and whilst my heart belongs to Liverpool FC I will happily watch most football when presented with an opportunity, be it in attendance or at home. In fact it is a prominent memory from my youth attending games at different grounds with my Dad. I won’t lie to you here, the games in which I attended where the stadia playing host offered no seating, leaving you to stand or lean were utterly enjoyable.
However, to expand on that point, those games were at a League Two, Conference or lower level where we could have swung the proverbial cat around without worry of disturbing someone’s Bovril.
The biggest concern at these games was that if there was a goal, old Bert in the corner would have his nap spoiled. There was a greater chance of indigestion than congestion. I was never of an appropriate age in the eyes of the old dears to watch my team in a standing Kop, despite many visits, and I only made my way there once seats were in. As a lifelong Red, and I’m sure many feel the same, the feeling of being in the Kop is unbeatable, surrounded by those as passionate as you, breathing in the atmosphere and being totally consumed by events in front of my eyes.
I have a Scottish friend from Aberdeen who fondly recalls Pittodrie becoming its own ‘beast with many heads’, and the antics that occurred; suffice to say the toilets were not really bothered with! This is all good, but the events of April 15th 1989 are forever imprinted on my mind and I wasn’t even there. No matter what the event, or where it is, whenever a large group of people are closely gathered, you can lose all sense of individualism – you become one.
On the positive side the noise and passion that group can exude can support and intimidate in equal measure. On a negative side, a person’s freedom of movement can become restricted, impossible to move against the crowd. For years this was not seen as a threatening negative, but all it took was human error.
We all know the tragic events of that fateful day, suffice to say had human decisions been made very differently 96 people may still be amongst us. Are people prepared to run that risk for the sake of standing up?
Football by its very nature is a hugely passionate sport and we can all recall moments of personal frustration and anger where our temper has been lost, and this sort of natural human behaviour can be intensified when surrounded by like minded people and is at the centre of that mob mentality, each driving the next on.
Nothing is 100% safe (one fan on a radio show claimed seated stadiums were not safe as he often bruised his legs celebrating a goal…seriously), but surely in light of what we know a return to any form of standing shows a capacity of failing to learn.
Let’s get this out straight away, what happened to Rio Ferdinand in the Manchester derby was disgusting. The kind of animal capable of doing this should not be allowed into a ground again, and probably monitored whenever they leave the house. Whether the FA is acted because Ferdinand is a United player (I don’t think so) or because he was actually bleeding at such a memorable moment in the tie is irrelevant. Once again the FA has failed the players and the fans.
I can think of numerous Liverpool players been hit with objects as well as many others (sorry to say but some by those at the Liverpool end), so it is not a shocking new development. The proposal of netting in place to stop ‘missiles’ making it to the field of play is moronic in my mind. If something can stop a coin passing through then surely logic dictates it can stop a human passing through. Seriously this is an actually honest to goodness answer? Has anyone learnt anything? How can penning people into an area by any sort of barrier that potential limits the number of exit points in case of emergency ever be considered?
Clubs have to police their own, increase stewards, invest in hi-tech CCTV, and introduce life time bans for those caught. These people need to be prosecuted and made an example of so that others are minded of their own behaviour. The only way forward is highlighting the idiots, not vilifying everyone.
This is a subject I feel very passionate about and in no way advocate either approach. I would love to hear the thoughts of those who agree with me and especially those who don’t so we can have a reasoned chat.
Reply here or come find me on twitter @timdibs
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