Hutch’s Patch: all for safe standing. Can we also have sane sitting?

Jake: 'get a grip, M Salut. there is no N in Hutchison'
Jake: ‘get a grip, M Salut. there is no N in Hutchison’

Rob Hutchison always stands his round. What he cannot abide is the fellow Sunderland fan who insists on standing his ground and won’t accept that sitting is not just required by ground rules but a basic human courtesy to those behind who are no longer so good on their feet …

So this one has been bubbling with me for a little while. The safe standing debate is coming along nicely, and no doubt at some point sections of all stadiums in this country will be sold as safe standing areas, and I’m all for it if that’s people’s preferences. I have every confidence that safety will be paramount and SS will be a resounding success if managed correctly.

In the meantime, it’s very much ad hoc. I’ve been to our three away games this season, accompanied at various matches by me lad Louis (18), daughter Olivia (16 and small), and father-in-law Bert, a fit but short 89, who knows more about football than most writing or reading this post.

At every game in the section we were in, we had we had to stand for most of the match. The vast majority of home support were sitting from what I could see at WBA, Birmingham and QPR. Obvious exception would be a lively singing section of home fans which helped with the atmosphere at each game.

Rob wasn't blocking anyone's view
Rob wasn’t blocking anyone’s view

First game of the season WBA and behind the goal everyone was standing, Olivia struggled to see all game peering through heads, as did Bert who was almost knocked over by a drunken muppet in the row in front of us when Catts had his “moment”. He was knackered after an hour so didn’t see anything of the last half hour as he had to take a seat. Stewards at WBA didn’t really care just giving us the “what can we do?” look in the second half. Brilliant point, but day half spoilt for other people.

Next up was Birmingham away. Stewards here advised us this was free seating to sit where we liked (remember the Chelsea debacle last season?) so the same four of us took seats at the front of a block so there was a gap to the next one down giving us some elevation.

This proved a little better as towards the front most of the first 10-15 rows were seated before people who wanted to stand had moved towards free seats at the back. We had to stand but view was far less restricted. What beggared belief was a group of around eight lads in one row, around six rows from the front standing whilst everyone else was seated. None would sit down when asked by fans around them. Stewards again, not fussed thanks.

Lastly was QPR, I went with the missus and we sat in the steep upper tier, which gives a brilliant view when everyone is seated. We were right behind the goal but, as kick off approached, everyone in our area stands up meaning if you want to watch the game seated you can’t. Me, I’m not bothered personally, but when the person you’re with wants to sit and can’t then it can’t help but irritate. Same old stewards story.

CAMPO RETRO - Sunderland retro football shirts

Sometimes our fans are excellent and actually think about who’s behind them, others couldn’t give a toss even when asked. It seems to be more of an issue with our fans than others (at least that’s the perception), and it was noticeable that home fans were predominantly seated when our away were not.

Stewarding policies have also changed; in days gone by it was more rigorously enforced, whereas now they instructed to do nowt as long as public safety is not an issue. Maybe it’s symptomatic of and a ripple from the problems we had at home with the same issues, but it’s disappointing when it dampens what is normally a fantastic day out with the Sunderland.

It will never stop me travelling, but numbers will be down in my group this season which is a shame. So lads, you know it really makes sense to sit doon if you hate the toon.


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3 thoughts on “Hutch’s Patch: all for safe standing. Can we also have sane sitting?”

  1. I’m sure rob has memories of football matches pre 1994. Unfortunately for your children, if you’re the smallest your view will be restricted. If you took your child to a gig would you expect the people in front to part like the Red Sea so you and you’re little darling could get to the front? My dad used to say to me try your best to see what you can. I do sympathise with your father in law, and agree people should be a little more courteous to the older of our society. The younger however will have to make do as we all have done, facts of life.
    And if there’s anything that dampens an away match or any football match, it’s people sitting down moaning on that the person in front is standing up too much. It’s a football match! To say it is more of an issue with our fans is absolutely ridiculous. Perhaps there are ways and means of asking. When asked politely all fans I’ve witnessed have sat down when there is a lull in play. Obviously if we have a corner/freekick the person, asking for the other to sit, is generally ignored.

    • Years ago if you went to a standing area you knew what to expect. I must have missed loads of action not being very tall. But if you could afford it you could go in the stand and be sure those there would remain seated.

      Nowadays you have no choice at bigger clubs and it is a matter of luck whether or not you are surrounded by standers or sitters.

      Of course it’s not a Sunderland problem. Take a look in the North Stand Upper at any home game and you’ll see nearly all away fans tend to stand. If safe standing is introduced to some areas of grounds, it would make it easier for stewards to insist that those with seats use them.

      Just don’t get me started on concourses, and people blocking walkways before kick off.

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