By Tony Attwood
I was talking to friends on the way back from the game, about their experience of the match in the family enclosure.
They’d got tickets for three adults and four children in the lower tier, clock end, positioned next to the Lincoln supporters, and I was rather sorry to hear that it was not as enjoyable an experience as it might have been.
There were two prime things wrong it seemed: the language and the visibility.
Football grounds are notorious for what we might call the colourful language of supporters, and of course we don’t want the grounds sanitised so that much of the atmosphere is removed. And yet when children are taken to an event and exposed to others around them using the foulest kind of abuse, and I really do mean the foulest kind of abuse, one begins to wonder where the club’s responsibilities are.
Quite clearly many of the young children using this language have no idea what it means, but it does seem unsatisfactory that all the children taken into the family enclosure are being exposed to a level of industrial language which simply doesn’t exist in some other parts of the stadium.
Yet language is not impossible to deal with: a strong effort was made by the club to get rid of racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic language some years ago, and by and large this has been a success. In these regards abusive chants of this type have been wiped out.
And yet, although we don’t hear too many expressions with the strongest of abusive swear phrases in the rest of the ground they seem to persist in the Family Area. It seems strange.
There is also a problem with the seating in the same area. Some of the people with seats in the area are quite small because they are… well… children. So when everyone stands up they can’t see, even if they stand up too. In the end they have to stand on the seats, which is probably not particularly safe.
Of course the family section in the clock end is not the only area where there is a problem – how many times have we seen flares and smoke bombs brought in? And with the Munich fans, a vast array of rolls of paper – so many in fact that the game had to be stopped.
And what was done – either to the individuals or to the club? I’ve never seen or heard of any activity. Yet it could be so easy – the number of visiting supporters could be reduced for a club, each time that club’s supporters engaged in unacceptable behaviour. That puts the problem back to the visiting club: sort your own supporters out, or you get a reduction in numbers.
And while I am at it, could the stewards also be informed that smoking an electronic cigarette is also banned in the stadium, along with smoking ordinary cigarettes?
I know the simplest response to all this is to say that I am just trying to spoil fun and bring in more and more regulations, but actually I’d like to enhance the fun – by removing the fear of blinding or serious injury from flares, and by encouraging parents who don’t want their children to be using swear words they probably don’t understand the meaning of, to bring their children to the games.
Individually all the stewards I have dealt with have been excellent. Recently, when I fetched one because a man exiting the ground was on the floor as the crowd were passing all around him – he followed me at top speed to help get things resolved. It is just that they are always going to do what they are instructed to do – and somehow we just need some better instructions, in my opinion.
Arsenal History Books on Kindle
The novel “Making the Arsenal” by Tony Attwood which describes the events of 1910, which created the modern Arsenal FC, is now available for the first time on Kindle. Full details are here.
Also available on Kindle, “Woolwich Arsenal: the club that changed football” the only comprehensive history of the rise of Arsenal as a league club, and the attempts to destroy the club, from within and without. For full details please see here.
Both books are also available as paperbacks. Please see here.