Sit Down, Stand Up – An Alternative View

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This topic contains 12 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Ben Cooper 2 years, 1 month ago.

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  • #11999


    I went to the Astra game and sat in the front row of the east stand just to the right of the half way line, my mum and dad (aged 67 and 70) were also there and sat in the Bobby Moore stand. Given all the issues around people standing and people behind them not being able to see I resisted standing up until around 70 minutes when the ball was at the far end of the pitch and we were close to scoring, now the guy next to me who had stood a lot also stood up and a man behind me tapped me on the shoulder and said “can you ‘bleeping’ sit down when you stand up all game I cant see a thing”.

    This guy had also been swearing constantly throughout the game, with a family with two young boys sat directly next to him, strangely when he tapped me on the shoulder and I said I would sit down as long as he stopped swearing I didn’t hear anything else from him.

    My mum and dad had stood during the usual “stand up if you love West Ham” but only at the start as my dad suffers from something called COPD which basically restricts his breathing and means he is constantly out of breath. Now during the second half of the match a group behind my mum and dad were stood singing at my mum and dad and pointing at them, telling them to stand.

    Where does this now stop? the owners have missed a massive trick by not having a family area in the stadium but are we now adopting a pack mentality that we all have to stand or we are not true fans ? I have only been to 2 games (both at the os) in probably the last 10 years but that doesn’t make me any less of a fan than a season ticket holder of 25 years does it ?

    I think the OS is fabulous and I heard on sex, drugs and carlton cole’s radio show that it has a Wembley feel about it and I agree, but its an all seater stadium, I get people are anti establishment and there is an attitude of “they wont tell us what to do” but without people sitting down we wont get to 66,000 and certainly not beyond it because the council wont gives us the licence on safety grounds. Are we all happy that the 6000 seats worth of income will be lost and this then impacts the transfer/wage budget ? Look forward to hearing what you all think.

  • #12002


    Firstly I agree with you that it was a huge mistake not to have a family section and on the whole I think the migration and the way ticketing was handled has been really poor and has been a big contributing factor to this standing/sitting issue.

    With regards to you being more or less of a fan that has been a season ticket holder for 25 years – honestly, I can see why you say that but I’d also understand that 25 year veteran thinking otherwise.

    I don’t quite understand your ‘anti-establishment’ comment, I don’t think that has anything to do with the standers. I just think that a lot of people enjoy watching football that way.

    They is a lot of people thinking (rightly or wrongly) that the club is changing and not all of it for the better and being made to sit is step too far for some when they have been happily and safely standing for years and years.

    We don’t want to become Arsenal, in a big stadium with no atmosphere and if a standing minority help produce a better atmosphere then I’m all for it.

    If people that want to sit have bought tickets in the lower tier behind either goal then I have very little sympathy for them if the people around them want to stand as that is exactly what has happened since the club formed.

    On the flip side, if people that want to stand have chosen seats along the middles sides or in the upper tiers, then I have no sympathy for them if they are made to sit as that is what has happened for years.

    As for the capacity increase, I personally couldn’t care less if it isn’t increased. Yes the extra income is all well and good, but if it just means more tourist type fans that dilute the atmosphere and complain about the loyal season ticket holder standing or making a noise then I’d rather they not come.

    There are a couple of things I can’t quite get my head around too.

    1) If it is Newham that issue the safety cert – how come we got one for The Boleyn (God rest her soul) when there were thousands standing, but they won’t issue one for the LS?

    2) Why is standing still seen as a safety issue? It originally came about because of the Taylor report looking into Hillsborough, however it has since been ruled that Hillsborough was caused by the Police and not due to standing being dangerous?

    Whatever your view, it is clear it needs to be addressed better by the club, otherwise they will end up losing a number of long term loyal supporter.

  • #12034

    Ben Cooper

    Thank you for your post eastmidshammer, you make some interesting points. Part of me feels like the standing and sitting problem will sort itself out as fans move around to sections they feel best in. It would be interesting to find out how long it took for the sections at the Boleyn to establish themselves.
    It would seem that the club did everything they possibly could to ensure a smooth migration. Comparable seats in the equivalent section were offered first, the ‘You plus two’ scheme was a good way of keeping people together and they were very accommodating for people taking their seat selection appointments in groups. Obviously they could not advertise any part of the stadium as a section where ‘persistent standing is tolerated’ because it’s simply illegal. The person who took my appointment hinted at sections where ‘atmosphere’ would be maintained as much as she could.

    Another thing the club and the stadium operator cannot, but clearly want to say is ‘ please all sit down UNTIL we get the green light on 66k, then we can figure it out ourselves, after a season or two when people have moved around we will turn a blind eye like we did before’.

    People are moaning that none of the Bournemouth fans were made to sit. I think it is promising as it hints that if no one complains then it will be tolerated. I’m sure this will come as fans move around over time.

  • #12043


    Can’t agree that the club did everything they could. I think it was handled pretty poorly.

    The lack of a family area is a massive reason for the complaints re standing.

    The plus two tickets meant that people that have hardly ever been before got treated better than many that have been going for years.

    I get that the advisors (who I think did a good job under poor instructions) couldn’t call an area a ‘standing section’, but it wouldn’t have been difficult to explain the areas that many of the standers at UP would be congregating in without calling it a standing section or even condoning it.

    And this isn’t hindsight, this was mentioned on another forum by a number of us who could see problems a long time before the migration took place.

    I’m not a habitual moaner about the club and the owners as some seem to be, I think they have done a hell of a lot of good, but let’s not pretend this has been handled anywhere near well enough.

  • #12054


    I’ve so much to say on this subject that cannot possibly fit into 144 characters!

    First to say that I’m old school, having stood on the North Bank, the South Bank, the West Side and the Chicken Run before setting in the BML at the Boleyn. Standing is how I prefer to watch my football, it’s just my knees that don’t agree anymore!

    My late mum was well into her 60’s as a season ticket holder in the BML, despite her age she stood along with everybody else, her reasoning was that it was a cultural thing, if she wanted to seat she could easily have taken a ticket elsewhere in the ground. However she enjoyed the company & the atmosphere and never once complained about anyone standing or obstructing her view.

    It seems to me that the club made some grave mistakes when moving us into the London Stadium; the first was not to have a dedicated ‘Family’ area of the ground.
    The upshot of that is that I took my seat in the BML, thinking I was going to be surrounded by the same like-minded individuals as I was at the Boleyn, only to find I was placed amongst what amounted to a bloody kintergarten! Now I swear, I swear a lot, I always have done at football, West Ham have given me plenty to swear about over the last 48 years, yet now I’m put in the uncomfortable position of either having to watch what I say, or risk the wrath of a parent with a small child. I took the latter option & have yet to receive a complaint, yet!

    My questions to the club are; what on earth possessed them not to have a family section? And why at the reservation centre were people not made aware of the culture of those in the BML?

    The other mistake was in Baroness Brady sending out a letter threatening hell & damnation to anyone who dared to stand, how monumentally stupid was that? Has she ever heard of transactional analysis? It’s a basic management tool that allows you to manipulate conversations by talking in a particular tone to engender a particular response. Without going into great detail; if you talk to people like a parent you will get a child response. Her letter demanding we sit was only ever getting one response, that of no, you wont tell us what to do.

    While I have some sympathy with those who find their views obstructed, I can’t help think that to a large extent it is their own fault. There are so many seats in the stadium, so why on earth would they choose a seat where standing was largely prevalent & tolerated for many years at the Boleyn?

    I don’t think it’s difficult to find a solution; implement family areas & relax the rules in the BML & the TBL when it comes to standing. In the upper tiers standing should not be accepted, that way there are no grey areas, no stewards going into the crowd & likely ending up with fighting & everyone will know the ‘rules’.

    If this problem is allowed to fester I can see it causing more disturbances as the season goes on & for what? Is standing unsafe? If it’s safe for 57k in a stadium then what is unsafe about 66k? I don’t understand the flawed thinking & never will, but the decision makers really do need to be challenged & the ‘Safety Advisory’ jobsworth at Newham Council should be called to account.

    • #12057



      That is a great post and I couldn’t agree with you more.

  • #12060

    Ben Cooper

    Jamo, simply saying it was done badly without offering any feasible alternatives is not really constructive. How would you have done it better? The board did float the idea of a ‘singing section’ which would of course create a ‘non-singing’ section (or ‘family section’) by default. This idea was quickly (and quite aggressively) rejected on the grounds of it being ‘tinpot’ or ‘unnecessary’ as we are ‘more than capable of generating an atmosphere’ without allocated sections, along with cries for ‘lets not become Fulham’.

    I am under no illusion that things need to change and I am sure they will. Both Jack and Dave were very clear that concerns will be raised with the stadium operator promptly, but the standing issue is simply a teething problem that you would expect to be faced with when adding another 20k+ fans to a new (all seater) stadium where rules must be seen as being respected to the outside world. We can make the London stadium our own but it will take a little time for people to shuffle about until they are happy, for the stewards and the fans to reach that ‘unwritten agreement’ we had at the Boelyn. The unofficial seat exchange will go a long way towards accelerating that process and it would be good to see the club either back it or offer their own version after a good amount of games.

    Lets not forget that we have only played one premier league game at home. We can not, and should not, judge the crowd for any other type of game (cups and friendlies) as this is when the ‘casual’ fans will visit, often with their families. It is of course their right to do so and it is often the first ever experience for many of the children attending such games. These are the kids who ‘should’ form the new generation of fans who get season tickets when they grow up. Do you really think think they will want to return if all they could see for 90 mins was the backside of some ignoramus who refused to sit? The hype and buzz around the place will soften too, everyone and their dog wants to see a match at the former Olympic stadium, many of them neutrals and these early fixtures have provided opportunity for many. The number of non Hammers will certainly reduce when winter comes.

    No section has its identity yet, perhaps the BML will end up as an ‘unofficial’ family section, who knows. What is more likely is people who want to stand will gravitate towards it, whereas people who do not will move away. During my appointment, they were trying to sell the east stand as the place with the most atmospheric potential, a bigger and better ‘Kop’ if you will. They had a vision of what they saw the stadium becoming, but some fans seem to have expected ‘Boleyn ground 2.0’, I am not saying either is correct. At the end of the day, if someone’s view is restricted because they are unable, or do not wish to stand then its just common decency to sit or offer a solution such as swapping seats. I can’t see it being a long time before the seat allocation evolves into something we are all happy with. I completely agree with your point on the letter Chris, the tone served only to exasperate the situation.

    What presents a real issue worth debating at this stage, is the stadium operator’s apparent lack of preparation and know-how for stewarding football matches. It is very fortunate that there is a considerable amount of time before a rival club visits the stadium. If we had Spurs on opening day.. well you can imagine the carnage on the concourse if fans were able to freely move in and out of the away section.

  • #12064


    The feasible and constructive alternative was that there should have been a family section which as I mentioned a number of people had said all along. If some blokes on a football forum can see that you’d hope those in charge of the migration would have too.

    That alone would have solve a large amount of complaints.

    Totally agree with you that people need to be patient with it and shouldn’t base it on one league game and a couple of cup games, as you say, those type of cups games never had a good atmosphere at the old ground and attract different types of fans.

    I’ve been taking my son since he was 5 and he has stood on chairs to see and has much preferred that than sitting in the more sterile atmosphere of the TBU. So I don’t see a problem with kids doing that now. As I’ve said before, if you choose a ticket behind the goal and want to sit – more fool you, however on the flip side if you choose a ticket upper tier or in the middle at the sides you can’t complain when you’re made to sit.

    PS – The BML better not become the unofficial family section as i’ll be standing in it 😉

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 1 month ago by  Jamo.
  • #12107

    Ben Cooper

    I don’t think an official family section is the answer, nor do I think the club were wrong not to implement one, this is because ..

    A: We didn’t need one at the Boelyn as 70% of the stadium could be considered ‘family friendly’ as people sat down. The unwritten rules in the TBL and BML were observed and understood by all. This will happen at the London stadium over time. This way of thinking was echoed by David Gold over the last few days.

    (If you click on these you can see the questions that were asked of Mr Gold)

    B: What does it actually mean to have a ‘family section’? would that mean a rule that you cannot buy a ticket for a child for anywhere else? If not and its just a suggestion then what is the point of making it official? The unwritten rules that you mention are far better in my opinion. I wouldn’t want to be told where to sit if I brought a youngster either.

  • #12129


    Seeing as it seems a lot of the complaints about standing are coming from people with kids then I think it’s clear a family section would definitely have helped. We had one at the Boleyn and which meant those who felt they didn’t want their kids standing on a chair could purchase their seat for that area. You never heard any complaints from parents in the TBL or BML because they knew they had the choice of the family section if they wanted it.

    A family section of course doesn’t mean you can’t get a kids ticket elsewhere. My son much preferred standing on a seat and getting a better atmosphere than sitting in the diluted atmosphere of the family section. It is a section where you can’t get an adult ticket unless it is accompanied by a child ticket. With the high percentage of kids in the section it will always be a seated area, as is all the top tiers.

  • #12132

    Ben Cooper

    I am not sure that this system you describe ever existed at the Boleyn. However, I may have missed it as I do not have kids myself. I made a point of sitting in every section of the stadium over the final two seasons and still did not come across any rule that I had to bring a child to qualify.

  • #12136


    The Trevor Brooking Upper was The Family section

    • #12140

      Ben Cooper

      Ahh, It was Argentina vs Croatia when I sat there, a different system perhaps.

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