Often Partisan

Atmosphere

From reading the forums and messageboards one bone of contention I’ve picked up from Blues fans is the lack of atmosphere at St Andrews. The Burnley game was a case in point – for long periods it was very quiet and it was possible to hear the players shouting to each other. Have we become fickle fans?

I have to be honest and say that I can’t remember the days of standing at St Andrews that well. I started going to the Blues regularly in the latter half of the nineties, well after the Taylor report had recommended the introduction of all seater stadia – and as such my memories of the ground are coloured by that. My one abiding memory of standing in the Kop was the defeat to Kidderminster in the FA Cup 3rd round in 1994 (which was the last season of standing on the Kop) – and I’ll be honest, I do remember the crowd being vocal, singing Andy Saville’s name after he missed a penalty to make it 2-2.

I really properly started going to the games when Trevor Francis became manager, and barring some standout games I can’t really remember there being that much noise at the ground. As I remember it was a period of time when we’d been in the second tier for a while, and had either gloriously failed to reach the play-offs, or reached them only to fail gloriously at the semi-final stage. When we finally did win the playoffs under Bruce it had been sixteen years since we’d last been in the top flight – and whilst we had been in the top division in my lifetime I couldn’t remember it.

There’s a whole generation of fans who are like me – who are more used to Blues being in the top flight than not now; that have seen the glorious heights of ninth in the Premiership and winning the Carling Cup but can’t really remember the lows of being in the third tier and playing in front of crowds of less than ten thousand in a crumbling stadium. We’ve grown up with football being a Sky Sports product, of the Premier League being a worldwide brand with global superstars playing and the consequent sanitised and corporate environment that has evolved from that.

This is where I guess the where the complaints of lack of atmosphere come in. The older crowd who remember the football specials, the fights and the testosterone-fuelled rowdiness of previous decades see today’s football as a poorer version of what they were used to, filled with prawn sandwich-eating, jester hat-wearing, face painted kids who don’t know the old school traditions. The younger crowd see the Championship as the poor relation of the Premier League and with the off-the-field travails that have beset Blues are disappointed how things have turned out.  It adds up to a lot of unhappy people for a lot of reasons – reasons that are difficult to combat without a return to standing inside the grounds and a rich investor to prop up the club financially.

The other problem is that people see efforts to try to bring atmosphere back as artificial and reject them out of hand; consider the derision that the idea of the “singing section” of the Tilton was met with, or the fun poked at our pink and baby blue brethren handing out songsheets so people could learn the songs. Attempts by fan groups to bring the “ultra” culture from Europe to England are met with scepticism and disdain; fans even turn on groups of people singing together in a group as a clique – look at the antipathy directed by many towards Block 11 as an example.

The thing is, “atmosphere” has to be something that is organic, that comes as a result of people spontaneously joining in. One major problem is that as a rule “atmosphere” these days tends to be as a reaction to something that is happening – a couple of stiff tackles, a dodgy card, or a couple of half-chances and people are on their feet, shouting and singing. The Burnley game was a case in point – after Nathan Redmond came on, the first time he beat a man elicited cheers from the Tilton and ignited the dormant passion that lies within the fanbase. Until an event happens, people don’t seem as willing to make much noise – it’s something that it’s very difficult to start.

I don’t believe Blues fans are fickle – no more so than any other team at any rate. It’s a fact of modern football that home teams on the whole don’t make as much noise at a constant level as a travelling support do. I think societal changes have caused us as people to be more insular, to be more afraid of making berks of ourselves and as such has made people happier to sit in a glum silence unless they think everyone else is joining in. It’s difficult, but the only people who can change things are ourselves.

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48 Responses to “Atmosphere”

  • Jo says:

    I think you’re absolutely right. The fans who complain are the ones who remember the ‘good old days’ when football was a different game which, as you mention, tended to have more ‘incident’ which gelled fans together. I think some of the problem is down to the songs. I sit in Block 39 by the away fans and a certain section of fans respond to the perennial ‘She said No Marlon’ with ‘She said Yes Marlon’ or even worse ‘she’s a slag Marlon’. That’s something that I’m not willing to get on board with and I find that I don’t want to join in with other songs that this section starts because I dislike them so much. Atmosphere comes and goes and we can’t try to compare ourselves with teams like sunderland or newcastle where football is a religion as it has so little to compete with locally.

  • Russ says:

    A ver good point, very well made..

    I really don’t know what the answer is here but
    Do know that if you were in the stadium in Bruge
    Then you will know what Blue fans are all about
    And just what an atmosphere Is all about.

    I woul love us to bring back the days of pure noise
    And banter as I must be in the generation just before you.

    Kumars, Dave Mackay, Lou macari, Barry fry and I course the
    Kop.

    Woul b great to get those day back, we don’t hear any
    Of the old songs apart from a certain s*** on the Villa!!

    KRO. Bring back the noise!!

  • Russ says:

    Apologies for typing .. Hate the iPhone!!

    :0)

  • PannuMannu says:

    We are bored with too much attacking football.

  • MarkyBlue says:

    Just to pick up on the Block 11 point – people aren’t irritated by them because they sing, it’s because they’re up their own arses and sing songs about themselves and the fact that they’re singing. Have a listen, whilst they might sing KRO once – twice at a push -, they might sing the Cheryl Cole song a couple of times, but most of the time they’re singing “Block 11, barmy army” (which sounds like they’re singing ‘donkey leather’) and “we’ll sing on our own”.

    Boring and self-indulgent songs.

  • glyn rees says:

    A brilliant piece Almajir. As one of the older supporters who can just remember standing, I do feel it has made it a lot less noisy. You can’t choose where you sit, so if you want to sing as i do but you are stuck in a silent part or with the morons in block 11 then you can’t join in unless you wan’t to sing stupid songs. We are far to comfortable in todays grounds, oh how i miss getting soaked when it rain and getting soaked when it was not raining thanks to the manure fans behind, it also rained coin and bottles. Almajir you have never lived you lucky blighter Kro4ever

  • hammy says:

    standing was much better…..better atmos, far more singing and noise, trying to find yer mates after we’d scored after ending up 10 yards away….eeee them were days………

    and theres some talk of allowing standing again….will it happen??? who knows…???

  • BowThai says:

    Yes your right Mr rees.its the seating.In the old days the Tilton was the place to be if you wanted to sing,so you joined them there.Then,if you remember, the Kop was the place to be…so we moved there.When the all seater came to us at Stans we had to choose where to sit and we stayed there,singers or not.so its not so easy to get the people around you to join in and one or two just die out if no one joins in……so join in lads, support the singers and make a noise.The players always say its better for them,lets hope they give us something to sing about with the football they play!Ive been around long enough and ive sung my heart out,win,lose,good and crap!KRO

  • Dino Tiltoni says:

    Blimey, some of this could easily end up in Private Eye’s Pseuds Corner.

    Exciting attacking football creates excitement and builds atmosphere. Negative defensive football doesn’t. Crowds like winning teams. That’s it.

    We never ‘gloriously failed to reach the play-offs, or reached them only to fail gloriously at the semi-final stage’. The play-off semi finals against Barnsley, Watford and Preston were littered with tactical errors (TF deciding to play 3 at the back when we were 1-0 down at half time in the first leg at home to Barnsley. We were soon 3-0 down), individual errors (Adebola’s unbelievable miss at Watford) and sheer craziness (TF having a tantrum at Preston over the end the penalties were to be taken that unsettled the team). But hey, we journey on and are all better for it! KRO

  • roy Smith says:

    You can’t blame seats for everything.
    There have been games such as the Watford playoff game and the first Vile match of Enkelmann fame when it has taken me ages to get my hearing back after the game because it had been so loud. And we weren’t exactly quiet at Wembley last year.
    When we want to we can be as vociferous as any teams fans, we just don’t seem to want to all that often.
    In addition when we do have a go, what and how we sing also reduces the atmosphere, eg starting Keep Right On so high that most people can’t reach the top notes so it fades out.
    Songs like When The Blues Go Marching In or simply singing the name of the club if started on a low note can create a great sound but both seem to have been ditched. Too old fashioned?
    Finally perhaps we also need to sing songs supporting Blues rather than slagging off the opposition.

  • Buckingham Blue says:

    I’ve got mixed feelings on this; I started to go in the late seventies with my Dad, and we would often arrive just in time for kick off given his enthusiasm for a few pre-match pints!

    My description won’t do it justice, but the roar from the crowd as you approached the ground on foot was just electric and that was just a pre-cursor to how fantastic it became once you were in. In those days, my Dad had a couple of season tickets in the old main stand opposite the KOP and it was so exciting as a child to see the fans bouncing around. The Tilton looked like an exotic adventure, but I could never imagine being brave enough to go in there!

    In terms of the noise it was incredible; the songs were more or less the same as today and the crowd got excited at similar events. What’s different now though is the intensity – it somehow felt more primal than today, but maybe that’s just nostalgia talking.

    As a teenager going to games with friends in the early eighties and standing on the KOP or Tilton it took on a whole new perspective for me; what looked like a boisterous fairground ride from the Main Stand felt out of control in reality; the noise from the crowd that was kind of choral from a distance became more menacing up close – and I loved it! I had never felt part of a group before that but certainly did then.

    Being at a match like the Leeds game, during that time broought it all into perspective for me though; it was terrifying, tragic and such a waste. Of course, I acted with bravado with my mates but I never wanted to see that again; as a middle aged man with kids of my own I don’t want them to either.

    The game has changed; just enjoy it!

  • Dirty Bertie says:

    Cold night, playoff match -v- Fulham; I can see the ref backing away towards the Tilton having given Fulham a free kick on the edge of our area. He let out such a snort of steam after a deep breath before blowing the whistle it was foggy for a week afterwards. The atmosphere was vicious. Never forget it. Unfortunately it scared the sugar out of my lad and he’s never been much interested since. A number of things need to come together to create atmosphere and that doesn’t happen too often, or when or how you think it should. Good! You’ll remember it when senile (yep).

  • skareggae72 says:

    There is safe standing in the German League,which operates without any problems.
    There was a meeting earlier this year about including safe standing in top-divisions here but the Premier League,Football League & FA argued that all-seater stadiums had been crucial in improving the games fortunes and image since Hillsborough “and there is no major demand for standing”.
    Dissapointing as a redevelopment of the old main stand could include a standing area backed by seating,but that looks unlikely :-(

  • Dino Tiltoni says:

    Dear Dirty Bertie ‘Cold night, playoff match -v- Fulham’. Ii don’t think we’ve played them in a play-off?

  • Paul says:

    If you haven’t been crushed against the barriers in the Tilton as the crowd did ‘Knees up Mother Brown’ you haven’t lived.
    Jumpers for goalposts.

    • hammy says:

      ha ha ha….oh yes indeed….crikey i forgot the “knees up mother brown” routine…..it was the “da ran da ra, da ran da ra” bit at the start that was the warning….remember??? ;)

  • Denis Thwaites says:

    Slightly cynical comment I know but perhaps the singing has stopped because those present at StAns this year are too busy watching us play some football? I think that us Blues fans like most fans tend to pump up the volume if they need to get behind the team. When we are in the Prem then more often than not we are the underdog even at St Andrews and it is inevitable that you give the team that extra bit of support cos its needed. In the Championship where we all expect to get results and are often not the underdog there is a general expectancy for us to win and with this comes an inclination to not get too excited. For example there was a bit of singing when Leeds were at STANS firstly because they are perceived as a big club and secondly their fans always sing which in turn sets us off too. Even though we are plauing well, most games this year are tight (score wise) and I for one sit there a bit nervously at times. A few four nil leads at half time might do the trick!

  • mark says:

    i believe seating killed the atmosphere at most grounds, One day I would like standing to return, because football is getting too expensive. I AGREE safety of fans should always come first… Blues fans are brilliant at away matches singing whether winning or losing just listen at away matches in europe or away!!!

  • tilts says:

    Sing when your winning is about it these days. We are finally paying the price of ALL SEAT STADIUMS & BLOODY TV SATURATION…

    When I grew up if I didn’t go down the blues I didn’t get to see them only the FA CUP FINAL was live on tv and the World Cup.

    These days we are now well into a whole generation of new supporters that have been raised in front of the box watching Man Utd, Arsenal etc this leads to fans turning up to St Andrews with higher expectations of the standard they expect. Unfortunately sitting in a freezing cold stadium watching BCFC struggle in the premier or do ok in the championship but even then lack entertainment value under a succession of negative managers this does not breed a major urge to keep going.

    We cant much moan about the prices as this is the only success of the current board the prices are very good by comparison to other clubs.

    The main problem with floating fans is that they can literally take it or leave it many season ticket holders join the pick and choose bunch because you can always get a ticket for the majority of the big games you wish to see, but most fans who stop buying season tickets and say they will pay on the gate invariably have a big gas bill or a kids birthday because in reality not many average fans have much disposable income.

    The main problem for floating fans is even when you do go it’s rare to get to sit where you want of be able to sit with friends… I still believe if we put benches in the bottom tier of Tilton, Garrison Lane and Gil Merrick and don’t number the seats/benches and sell the capacity area on a first come first serve basis meaning fans doing this can turn up together and sit/stand with each other also this would swell the amount of floaters who like to decide on the actual day of the match if they are going or not… The club need to stop charging more for fans turning up on the day too.

    On any given match day we now only have about 1,000 who turn up on the day…. Pretty bad when you think about it!

  • AuldBertie says:

    My dad took me to my first match when I was aged 8 in 1964. I can’t remember exactly when or even who it was against but it was a night match and the atmosphere was very imposing for someone of my tender years. I have been a regular attendee on and off (more on than off and as a 56 year-old find myself a ST holder once more) over the years so feel qualified to comment on this subject. I think generally the atmosphere was better in ‘the old days’ mainly because of the standing but although the sheer size of the crowds. I went to several matches where the crowd was 50,00 plus and as mentioned earlier, even a close-call could see you ten flights further down from your original starting position. That said I have witnessed some terrific atmospheres in recent years when the stadium has been all-seater. We also had many more popular songs in those days rather than the staple KRO et al of today. In fact the viler standard ‘my old man’ was regularly aired at some stage (late 60’s early 70’s maybe) but it faded and eventually became their sole property. There also used to be amusing ditties like “In the Net. Under the bar!”, “Ooh it’s a corner”, “It’s a long way to new street station” and their like so generally there was more variety and more participation. Many bluenoses will view this as heresy but I’ve never been a great fan of KRO. Being an anthem it’s much longer than the typical terrace chant thus its tendency to peter out during predominantly half-hearted renditions. That said, on the occasions we get the emotionally-charged, fully-blown version it even gives me goosebumps. So essentially my belief is that a combination of the all-seater stadium and lower crowds have led to a far more subdued atmosphere than days of yore but every now and again we still get the like of last year’s west-ham semi which is a credit to every fan assembled there.

    • AuldBertie says:

      “but although the sheer size of the crowds” sorry, senior moment. should have read “but also the sheer size of the crowds” :)

  • ScudMuffin says:

    my first match, that I can remember my dad says he took me to one when the fences were up, was against stoke. winning 2-1 the keeper was fouled by a stoke player. within minutes there was a fight on the pitch. I didn’t go for 4 or 5 years. saw a one all draw against fullham iirc. didn’t go for ten. 24, third game is draw in the prem with Derby. I went because my dad and my sister went. they had been off in Newcastle where my sister was at uni. I ended up listening to Isis. blues scored. then they went to sleep. not much to shout about when you see 20 minutes of a team trying. don’t like the foul mouthed chanting, sitting in kop with the ‘fogies’. reminds me of fights on the pitch. I wore earplugs for one game, guy behind giving some stick to the ref in the braga match. came on the bike so I had them with me, have considered doing it since. i’ll sing if I want, shout encouragement and praise when the lads show promise in an attack, applaud good defences. cheer when I think I should. if they play badly I think pffft, howlers are met with groans and calls of “for crying out loud” and “oh for god sake!” I comment with the others around me and discuss play and tactics. if you want to stand up and sing and shout in front of oap’s and persons of a stature of 5’6″ and below who most likely will tell you to sit down then the tilton is to your right, we don’t sit there.

    I like the benches idea, first ten rows of the kop blocks, the whole of the tilton maybe? I like my seat, row 17 and 18 should keep them.

  • Paul Taits T-Shirt says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KaYyPl4Kj0k The Germans have solved the problem! Would be great to do something similar, an “ultra” like group is best way to get atmosphere a place for all those to go who want to sing such as those in Block 11 and the top of the Kop :D

  • Bluehobba says:

    I think its a sign of the times. Away games have always generated a lot of singing no matter where weve travelled to.It must be a territory thing.But then fans used to travel together on the train. Depending how vocal the away fans are at Stans seems to have an affect on how noisy we are at home. My first Blue game that I can remember was at home and lost to Liverpool 1-0, Joey Jones scored and am sure in them days there wasn’t away section. The fans mixes both in the Tilton and sometimes in the Railway end.

  • Poppa999 says:

    I can remember being a 14 year old when Freddy Pickering scored in the fifth round of the FA Cup v Chelsea in front of 51,500 at St Andrews. The Previous round in the replay on a Tuesday night we been Arsenal 2-1 and I reckon there was more than that there. I never saw a thing at either match!

    • Tony Knight says:

      I was there too -although I think it was 54,500 – the capacity was 53500 and a few sneaked in. The game causes the noise and the noise causes the game -its catch22

      remember when the game came alight against Bruges at Stans after the 23rd minute applause

  • macca salop blue says:

    I spoke to Michael Dunford about “safe area–standing” about how we could be a pioneering club bringing it back, and it working in Germany, etc. He said “no way, forget about it” the Hillsborough tragedy despite happening over 20years is still too raw for some people, it would be seen as too insensitive to some, there’s too much risk, if trouble kicked off in that area, wrong people got in , got on the pitch due to no fencing, identifying culprits by cctv more difficult, etc the authorities would thow the book at the club if something went wrong . He said it won’t happen in our lifetime at a Premier club.

  • denis thwaites says:

    Fred Pickering who Poppa999 recalls scoring against Chelsea in the Cup in1968 was for those who weren’t privileged enough to see him the best header of a ball I have ever seen down the Blues. He was an ex England player who was cast off by Everton for being a bit of a maverick but was one hell of a player. I remember a replay against Arsenal when Barry Bridges scored twice I think where the full signs went up and extra fans still got in by climbing over the walls. I was about 10 and think my feet never touched the floor apart from half time when people trundled off for a pee in the open air trough! The atmos then was unbelievable but a miracle nobody got crushed into oblivion

  • Wingman Blue says:

    Ummm… to get back to the subject in hand, at the Bruges home game, was stuck in the Kop with a bunch of nerds who seemed more interested in debating tactics than watching the match, and with a moaning minny who came out with “here we go again!” after only 30 seconds!
    Atmosphere? No singing, and the moaning minny refused to clap on the 23rd minute. From now on in its in the Tilton. The Kop is full of zombies!

    • ScudMuffin says:

      to be honest the tactical debate is one of the things I love. I get three or four views bounced around where I sit though I will agree that whining pisses me off. some games it’s a bite your lip moment.

    • MarkyBlue says:

      Nerds discussing tactics?

      What a ridiculous comment. Ergo all managers and coaches are nerds then?

  • peakblue says:

    seating has definitely sterilised the whole atmosphere of football.
    The dynamic of ganging up with your pals having the crack and then blending straight into the crowd has gone.
    Also, due to shift work, I’ve been unable to get a season ticket so if I want to go I have to sit by complete strangers. Harassed by the “sit down” choir. Not have a smoke. having a stewart strutting the gangways just waiting to tap you on the shoulder for shouting out any vocal and cctv trained on your very move. If you’ve a season ticket they know exactly who you are and could revoke your ticket for “having fun”

    I see the whole argument for attracting a whole new audience with seating. Unfortunately like the other bloke said its saturated completely now with the very highest level of the game direct into your living room what kid is gonna freeze their bits off and pay money for the privelege. Things have moved on unfortunately kids wanna be on xboxs or playstations and the youth are more interested in festivals and crazy stuff like snowboarding that when I was younger was never dreamed of just middle class play things.

    Another thing while I’m on my soapbox. A large proportion of us live no where near the ground anymore the. Back in the day families would go down together on foot you could have a drink before and after. Now it’s a mission in pre planning and organisation. I for one wouldn’t dream of letting my lad go down to a game with the dark nights and def not on a night game the area around stans now is not very friendly.

    There is too many barriers to many reason to go ahh stuff it. I’ll go next week.

    • ScudMuffin says:

      sit down crowd, I’m 5’4 and I pay to watch the match, not your bald spot. you stand up I’m peeking over your head.

  • jeff says:

    been some great nights atmosphere wise since the seats have been put in at stans.ipswich cup semi,chelsea ,man utd.in the 80,s we had some low crowds and crap atmospere to some lads at the time the match was something like an interval between trying to have it with away fans. i think if the teams playing well it helps to create a buzz but the facts are times are hard for a lot of folk so the crowd will be lower.just seeing a low crowd im sure has a negative effect on people.also as i sit in the paddocks with young kids around me i refuse to join in with any foul mouthed songs.our song book is very limited these days.fiesta anyone?

  • Dirty Bertie says:

    I really don’t think seating is the problem. If the circumstances are right, as it was -v- (with a nod to Dino Tiltoni) Preston NE in the playoffs (white and black. Fulham done us in the cup semi-final), the atmosphere can still be electric. With so many games, most are bound to be petty, little squables around the centre circle. But, those few that are extra special make up for the humdrum. And there were many a boring game in the standing days too (damn those varicose veins!).

  • Dino Tiltoni says:

    I agree with you Wingman Blue, there were some funny characters in the Kop at the Bruges game. You must have been near me listening to the ‘tacticians’. I think one of them sounded like he ran a 9 year olds team. It’s not usually like that, honest! My mates in the Tilton experienced similar stuff. Obviously the Euro games and cheap ticket prices attracts some nerdy fans.

    On atmosphere my first home game was a 2-2 draw with Sheff Wed in December 1967 on a bitterly cold day. It was quiet and very cold and nothing like my first Blues game at Vile Park two months before where we won 4-2 in the sunshine in front of 50,000.

    • MarkyBlue says:

      Why is it a bad thing that people with an appreciation for the tactical side of the game are discussing it amongst themselves? It’s not like they forced you to join in – don’t like it, don’t listen.

  • DoctorD says:

    I was only ever allowed to go to a couple of games when I was a kid in the early 80s, but standing at St Andrew’s (and probably other grounds too) when you scored was just fantastic, scary and mind-bending. Suddenly the crowd would surge manically, a gaping hole would open up in front of you, you’d be flung into the chasm with no control over your body, swirl around almost as if slow motion, deafened by noise, and then the crowd would crush back together and you’d end up standing next to someone completely different, with no idea what had happened, who’d scored or just how long the celebration had gone on for.

    I’m not sure what to compare the experience to in life and sadly I only experienced it a few times. By the time I was old enough to choose to go to games myself, I’d moved away from Birmingham, we were in the third tier, the grounds were smaller and I generally was in the away end with just a tiny number of fans. It was never the same.

  • Mike A says:

    Thefirst game I ever went to was in 1989, the season we went down to the old 3rd. I can’t remember who we were playing and there was only about 7,000 people there. I didn’t care though because I was at the footie with my uincle and I had pretty much the entire Kop to run up and down! I do remember that there was a fight on the pitch though. I’m not sure exactly what it was about that game but it turned me away from supporting ManYoo (please forgive me, I was only 9!) and towards the Blues for ever more!!

    One of the best atmospheres I have ever experienced (other than Cardiff/Wembley, the Enkleman Vile game) was against Crewe in the first promotion season.Me and my mate could only get tickets in the Main Stand and we ended up having to sit in the aisle as they’d oversold.

    I’m not sure why the atmosphere is so flat more often than not and it may be because there are more fans that think we are entitled to be in the top flight but for me, as Blues have been out of the top flight more often than not in my life time, I treat every game I go to as if it were a cup final and try and sing my heart out for the lads for 90 minutes

  • Griff says:

    I remember standing on the Tilton with me Dad in the mid 70’s. The atmosphere cracked at times!! I don’t see why we can’t have something near to that now. I must admit that I feel a bit embarassed in front of travelling fans at times. I live in Yorkshire now and you guys would be surprised at the reputation that Blues fans still have. We are regarded as intimidating and rowdy which makes me proud to be honest. The thing is, I feel that it won’t be long before we loose that respect that other fans have for us.


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