Often Partisan

Stand Up For The Blues

The Carling Cup Final at Wembley. The Europa League games. The Carling Cup Quarter final against Villa at St Andrews. All of them memorable occasions, full of atmosphere, of noise and of feeling. And at every one of them, for the entire duration of the matches, I was stood watching. It’s not hard to see why people want a return of the terraces to the football.

You may have seen a couple of days ago this report in the Birmingham Mail that our claret and blue brethren are looking at the possibility of exploring the idea of pioneering safe standing in the Premier League. Admittedly it’s a long way from happening, but it’s got people talking – and of course, the question is “if them, why not us?” Couple that with a recent game at London Road where Blues fans got to stand on the terraces (which is quite unusual for us these days), and you can see where the clamour is coming from.

As a teenager growing up in the nineties, I don’t remember much about terracing as it once was. I do remember the first few times I was caught in a surge of fans down the Kop being scared absolutely shitless that I was going to get crushed to death. I can’t remember the fences in front of the pitch, and I can’t imagine the terror of being stuck at the front of the Leppings Lane end that fateful day in 1989. Whilst I’m not going to talk about who was to blame that day, I can understand why terraces ended up being phased out at stadiums.

However, times have changed since then. Football is somewhat more sanitised, infinitely better policed and many of the old pavement dancers have hung up their tap shoes. Advances have been made in how stadia are designed, and the Bundesliga has proven that even with huge crowds standing (with an alcoholic drink, no less) can be a safe experience whilst watching the football. The FSF (Football Supporters Federation) have long backed the idea of clubs being allowed to implement safe standing, and north of the Border the Scottish Premier League has greenlighted clubs there returning to terraces. Again, you have to ask – if the SPL are prepared to allow an Old Firm derby (with all the intensity that entails) have standing spectators, then why the hell are we not allowed to here in England?

Of course, what safe standing isn’t is the old crash barriers dotting a steep terrace; even the most ardent of supporters of standing know that isn’t going to fly with the authorities any more. Safe standing entails the use of so-called “rail seats”, as demonstrated here. As you can see, they’re not much different from the seats in the grounds at the moment, except for the large rail that rises from above the back of each seat – giving the people in front something to stop them flying forwards. It also allows for bigger crowds (and therefore logically cheaper tickets) as two standing spectators take up the room of one seated viewer.

Of course, for something like this to come in it has to receive assent from the powers that be – not just the footballing authorities but the Government too – this bill regarding safe standing will be given its second reading today as it makes its way through parliament. It’s a long way away from making it into the statute books but the effort is being made. However, I wouldn’t hold your breath for it to come in at St Andrews. I contacted the club for a comment with regards to safe standing. I received this official statement from a club spokesman.

The clubs official stance is that we are not considering this at present. The safety of our supporters is paramount.

Should the government and football authorities dramatically change their stance on this and push to implement this across the board then at that point it would of course be looked at by us as a club.

I hope that the powers that be see that there is a genuine interest in the idea of safe standing from a variety of fans and at least move the idea to a situation where it can be properly trialled so people can see for themselves if they want it to happen or not. It’s just a shame that it could happen over the expressway before we get to be able to experience it ourselves.

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26 Responses to “Stand Up For The Blues”

  • skareggae72 says:

    Ive seen the terracing plans across the city,& its a tiny section in the corner,about the size of a postage stamp,with no cover,looks more like a gimmick to me.
    Would i be right in thinking,that here at St Andrews,the lower section of the old main stand used to be terracing,so if the seats were removed,the steps of the old terracing would be below,just put some barriers in & we have terracing,surely this could be built in a matter of weeks,with little cost.

    • Geoff says:

      I’m not sure that was ever terracing. I remember there used to be horrible wooden benches; I sat there for a game against Leeds in 1973 in a crowd of 50,000. I also used to stand on the Kop and recall the kind of surges Almajir describes – have to admit they were fun at the time. Ditto ‘Knees Up Mother Brown’ on the Tilton in the early eighties. Realistically, I don’t think those kind of terraces are ever likely to return. But it would be interesting to see what so -called safe standing would be like. It couldn’t help but improve the atmosphere.

      • Geoff says:

        I’ve just been looking through ‘Birmingham City: A Complete Record’, and it does look as though the area you mention might have been standing – it’s actually quite difficult to tell from the photographs. If so, it predated my first visits to Stans in the early seventies. Perhaps some older fans might remember. It can’t have been a very big section and I can’t see a crash barriers. Interesting though…

        • Geoff says:

          *any crash barriers

          • skareggae72 says:

            The old main stand was build early 50,s(as the original burnt down).The stand was later rejuvenated/modernised with the addition of exec-boxes on top of terracing(which is why the roof on the boxes slants=afterthought).Unfortunately i dont have any pictorial evidence of this & beleive me ive LOOKED FOR IT ;)

  • Simon Parker says:

    I live in Germany at present, and to get my football fix seeing as I can’t get to the Blues (unless they play in Bruges :-)) then I go see a local bundeslige team, and there are plenty to choose from within 30 mins of me. Last season I went to see Dortmund, who won the German league in the end and they have a massive terrace behind the goal. Stadium averages 80,000 people a game, and that terrace holds about 25,000 people, its awesome. I have to say, being able to stand up, cheaply, cost around £15, have a beer whilst watching the game with ‘stewards’ bringing bagels and hot dogs etc to you is a far cry from the UK. Atmosphere wise it’s amazing, all those people jumping, singing, they all bring flags, scalves etc and have a couple of chaps at the front, on a little platform, looking at the crowd with a megaphone, starting the songs and chants. They never stop. Same at most grounds here i’ve been to. It has to be the way to go, its all safe standing, you buy a ticked for a ‘seat’, that doesn’t exits and you stand in that space, there are barriers on every row so you can’t get pushed forward. I don’t see the problem. If football is to retain its sole, it has to be the way to go rather than the morgues we go to at present.

  • JohnR says:

    It seems so obvious. The German model proves it can be safe as well. The trouble is that the authorities are so traumatised by what happened at Hillsborough that it is going to take a massive effort for them to change their minds.

  • Masaccio says:

    I remember surfing the crowd on the Kop during surges as a small boy, your feet wouldn’t touch the ground for what seemed ages!

  • Ash w says:

    I like the idea of safe standing and do think I would I
    Improve the atmosphere but being seated isn’t the cause of the lack of atmosphere down stans in recent years. Would cheaper standing tickets increase our attendance figures or are they more likely to be low currently for other reasons. Being able to increase the capacity of st Andrews for minimal cost would be good for the club but only if we get enough fans in to make it worth while.

  • Bluenosesol says:

    One of the reasons I go to less away matches these days is because of the behaviour of some of my fellow Bluenoses. At Wigan last season, I took my 78 year old mother who is recovering from stomach cancer and my 50 year old sister who though being very youthful suffers from arthritis. We had to stand for the entire game whilst we were stood amongst youths screaming foul abuse, constantly falling forwards and pushing us with absolutely no concern or respect for the women present. If we are going to introduce standing, then great for those who wish to avail themselves of it, but PLEASE ensure we provide seating and an atmosphere of peaceful enjoyment for our elderly and infirm supporters.

    • almajir says:

      I don’t think it would be something that would be introduced around an entire ground; for instance I don’t think it would be very good in the family stand as my daughter wouldn’t be able to see if everyone was stood. However, a section of the ground – that I think would be a good idea.

    • phil says:

      Good point but there would be seated areas, there always was before.
      Good on you and your Mom and sister for still going by the way, especially your Mom. Much respect KRO

    • jeff says:

      agreed mate.im 46 and prefer to sit..i did the terrace bit back in the day.the only way i could see me going on one again if the cost was far cheaper at an away game than seats.im all for terracing in certain a part of the ground.i sit in the paddocks ,a family section.on those days almair describes tickets are sold to anyone.some of the language is terrible for a family end.the shocking part is that some of these blokes have their kids sitting next to them.if im lucky enough to get a sheff utd ticket im going to ask for one at the front so if i want to sit in the seat i will be able to.the problem is with the i want to stand brigade is the person behind them may want to sit.so the quicker the terraces come back the better for me.make them only for season ticket or all ticket then the club know how many and who is in there..

  • phil says:

    Massacio,
    how many times did you get your trainers robbed whilst body surfing in your shell suit??
    pmsl

  • Bazzathebluenose says:

    I still remember when Barry Bridges scored a wonder strike from 25 yards from an overhead kick against Arsenal in the FA Cup 5th Round in 1968 and I was standing in the Kop about half way up about where the directors box is today. The ground was packed 55,000 officially but probably 60,000 + with all the noses that climbed over the wall. The crowd surged forward and my feet didn’t touch the ground as I went 20-30 feet down the terracing. I ended up planted in the same place from which I’d come as the crowd surged back. It was absolutely terrifying and I was convinced I was going to be crushed underfoot. Fortunately, I lived to tell this tale but it was a very frightening experience for a young boy as I was then. Nevertheless, I would love to see standing areas brought back provided that with the rail seat idea it can prevent a recurrence of what I’ve just described. Blues went on to win the game 2-1 with both goals scored by Barry Bridges with Bobby Gould scoring for Arsenal. We went to the semi final to lose unluckily to eventual winner West Brom at Villa Park. Great memories!

    KRO SOTV

    • poppa999 says:

      I was at that Arsenal match and the Chelsea one in 1968. In fact the atmosphere was pretty well all I got. At 5ft 4in I couldn’t ever see anything until the Taylor report brought in all seater stadia. Now I’m getting too old for standing for 90+ minutes.

  • Gibbsy says:

    I still stand for every game, with my son, we have season tickets on the very back row of the stilton in block 3, so we can send without annoying anyone, I forgot to get the season tickets for the last Europa game and ended up sitting in the Railway and I must say, it spoilt my enjoyment of the game, I much prefer standing up.

  • Gibbsy says:

    *Tilton, don’t you hate auto-correct

  • Loz Booth says:

    I think they should bring back some terraced sections at St.Andrews. I remember the terraces with affection at St. Andrews growing up in Brum in the 80s. I’m a season ticket holder at Borussia Monchegladbach (going tonight for the Bayern game) and we will be standing. There are standing sections for the away supporters and for home supporters accross all of the North lower section of the stadium. It’s a great atmosphere. Have to add that beer is allowed in the stadium and smoking….. and my season ticket only costs 160 Euro. about £134 !!! Still a Bluesnose though… have even been known to wear a Blues shirt or an England shirt at Borussia on occasions…. !!

    • Simon Parker says:

      Dude, not sure where you live in Germany but can’t be far from me, so if you ever fancy going to a game together and a beer or two I’m always looking for someone to go to the footy with. I live in Düsseldorf by the way

  • Julian says:

    … And until then all those who stand will continue be selfish and disregard those who sit and cannot see. You wouldn’t stand in the Olympic Gallery would you because you are only interested in number one

    • almajir says:

      Not sure the point you’re making, but I was in the OG for the West Ham semi and for Bruges at home – and stood for both (as did the rest of the stand as far as I could see).

  • Merseypete says:

    I loved standing but the game’s moved on. Don’t kid yourself that it would be any cheaper – these are football club owners we’re talking about.

  • Boxman says:

    Thankyou for posting this topic.In my opinion the deterioating atmosphere, as directed by other’s deciding on what was best for OUR beautiful game and impacted across the country suggests that maybe the time and conditions are right for a lobby movement to try and really push for the return of standing within some sections of St. Andrews and elsewhere. I firmly believe that the demise in atmosphere at all grounds’ is linked to people being given no other choice but to sit, and of course the irony is that two thirds of the home crowd will stand up anyway on each and every attacking move, leaving some like young kids, older Bluenoses, and those who genuinely enjoy and prefer to sit to have their view’s blocked because some cannot or will not succomb to continually standing and then sitting down again with each movement of the game. As for away games I have heard many say that at least they prefer these day’s out because although you pay for a seat, the expectation from all those travelling will be that the game will be viewed from a standing position subject to stewardship intervention, and that win loose or draw at least the atmosphere created is a positive attempt to back the guy’s out on the pitch. However, overall is it any wonder that the passion and energy to participate in terms of body movement and singing has been incrementally stifled, toned down and in some games totally muted with each passing season since all seating became a condition, as opposed to a preference.

    On a related point and as a mid term compromise position I cannot understand why a couple of volounteers don’t try the bullhorn technique to try and at least invoke a more positive and inclusive engagement with and particpation of the home supporters.. As Simon and Loz refer to above, the atmosphere in the grounds around Germany and Europe appears to be fantastic and this is witnessed even from t.v. coverage. Cynically, I presume that anyone using a bullhorn in this over bleached and sanatised form of U.K. football enviroment would be mis-construed as inciting a riot and therefore banned before it was even given a chance to prove otherwise. Oh well, viva la revolution, and until then, K. R . O.

  • Dirty Bertie says:

    Not a cat in hells chance – elf n safety, crowd control/hooliganism, expense and a majority of fans not interested in it.

    Small area for standing would become known as the zoo and food would be thrown to the inmates.

    Football/fans/football/fans interaction = atmosphere


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