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.
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.
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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