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Atmosphere at football

November 1, 2013

So much has been said about the atmosphere inside the Emirates this week. I don’t blog much nowadays, only when I feel the need to say something in more than 140 characters.

I was at the game against Chelsea on Tuesday, which is unusual as I don’t attend many night matches even though I am season ticket holder, but my seats are always used as I let family or friends have them. My two season tickets are for my Son & I and with my Son being 12 years old, I am not going to have him getting home at 11/11.30pm when he has school the next day. Therefore I only take him to night matches when it’s school holidays. I could go on my own I suppose, but most of our night games are live on TV, so I stay at home with my Son and watch on TV, then he can go straight to bed.

The Chelsea match was is not included as part of a season ticket, so I got three upper tier tickets in block 115 and took both my Son & Daughter below


This photo was taken around 7pm just after we got into the stadium and there were plenty of empty seats at that stage. In fact there were plenty of empty seats around us fifteen minutes after kick off, I thought I had used the wrong aftershave. I was aware that there were on-going troubles on transport after the weather of the previous day, I had issue on my line yet I left home early and managed to travel from Harlow-Tottenham Hale-Finsbury Park-Holloway Road. Went into Piebury Corner, then into Costa’s in Holloway Road and then into ground just before 7pm.

A whole row of people, say about 12/13 seats in front of us turned up at least twenty minutes late, supporters were coming in so late, I was wondering if many thought it was an 8pm kick-off. I sat in block 115, upper tier, which was one block from the 9000 Chelsea supporters sat in both lower & upper tiers to my left. Many supporters left early as well therefore watching about 60 minutes of the match.

Some Arsenal supporters made plans to buy tickets in block 19 so as they could get the atmosphere going at the match. From above I could not hear them. This is no slant on them more that the 9000 Chelsea supporters were making a racket you could not hear Block 19 from my seat.  Obviously there was a certain amount of ribbing from the Chelsea supporters, mainly “Eight years and you’ve won fuck all” & “Can we sing a song a song for you”  No more than you would expect. I’ve been to many, many away games following Arsenal over the years and it’s no more than we Arsenal supporters do. Give it out, take it back. But as usual I understand some of the classless mob from Stamford Bridge went to far. Always a few who no doubt spoil it for many of the Chelsea fans who are trying to have good-natured banter

As I had the dustbins with me, I had to keep the industrial language down, so it’s hard to give it back. However at one stage when they were singing “Can we sing a song for you, I stood and shouted “No thanks’, you’ve only got two songs and we shit bored with them already” A few around me laughed, My Daughter said daddy, you said the “S” word, but in the main I felt I was being looked at like, shut up and sit down mate. My Daughter keep shouting out “Come on Arsenal”  and singing with my Son & I on the few occasions the home crowd got vocal. Yet again rather than join in, many of those around us  would just turn and look us, smiling, yet not getting involved. Seriously this is football, not the cinema or the theatre.

Now I have been in the Emirates at times the crowd has got going big time and if there is a louder ground in the country I have not heard it, so it can be done. Yet the other night it was flatter than a pancake, save the Chelsea supporters and to be fair, you’d expect 9000 away supporters massed together to be loud.

Then you hear of stewards causing problems for the home support in Block 19 at the Chelsea match, which I have read about and you can read about Here – Sit down and Shut up. It’s a concern how the club actually feels about the Emirates having a great atmosphere and right now their seems to be no logic as to why the club and supporters groups/supporters cannot find some common ground to improve the atmosphere. The bottom line is surely a massive atmosphere from the supporters is beneficial to all involved inside the stadium. There is nothing to gain from no atmosphere inside a football stadium, any football stadium. The supporters seem up for it. It is obvious the club targeting the home fans and in case turfing them out or even taking away season tickets. All a bit crazy for standing when action or chanting requires it. Against Norwich I sat in the lower tier clock end and every time we attacked people stood up, I have never done so many squats in 90 minutes.

I have been going to Arsenal over for fifty odd years, I have a loud mouth and for many of my early years I had no problem standing on the North Bank, Clock End, away ends, arriving on train at stations on away days and starting singing off, yet the past does play tricks. It wasn’t always a great atmosphere inside Highbury either, just like the football wasn’t always great. some matches just passed on by, but in many other matches the fact that supporters could mass together by paying on the gate and finding their own spaces on the terraces meant mates could congregate together and it made it easy to get the atmosphere going.

I remember back in 1994 when 25000 travelled to Copenhagen for the Cup Winner Cup Final, the supporters were amazing, helped by the Arsenal announcer getting the microphone and helping whip the crowd up, also it was our first Euro final for fourteen years. Yet the following year the same amount of Arsenal supporters went to Paris and were out sung by the Real Zaragoza supporters, it was almost a case of after the Lord mayor’s show.

Many of todays supporters are split up, I know this as mates and myself who used to go together are split because the club made/make it hard to get seats together. The cost has also not helped. Today we all know football is expensive, yet there does always seem that 60000 people who buy tickets to go to the Emirates, even having won nothing for eight years. Alright the ground might not look full, maybe 50/55k at some matches, but as far as the club are concerned the seats that were not used, were paid for. Whether that is season ticket holders not attending or those that brought tickets weeks or months in advance not attending I’m not sure.

There is also the influx of what is called “the football tourist”, not just at Arsenal I might add. People who go to football grounds from all over the world fascinated by Premiership football and who are linked to certain clubs like Arsenal, but I’m not sure really get what football support is like in this country. It may seem strange to some, but supporting your club from birth is in the blood. Following your team hurts and well as taking you to the highest highs. Many of us have grown up with our team in the blood for decades and generations of family supporting our clubs. After our families this is the most important thing there is, I suppose you could say Arsenal is our extended family. We’ve been doing it longer that since Sky Sports seem to think they invented football and the Premier league started.

This is not about knocking these supporters from all over the world, who in their own way have to get up at all times in the night or up early to watch the games on TV, showing their loyalty in other ways. Maybe even saving up for what would be the costs of a season ticket at the Emirates to fly over, book hotels to watch just one game to get that feeling of being at a Football match of whoever the support. All support has to start somewhere and football has gone truly global.

I feel, like many others do there needs to be much more done by those who run football, this being our clubs, the football authorities, even the Government, who may need to (No!! In fact – MUST) changes laws to get cheaper – safe standing areas back at football and get the atmosphere back into our stadiums. Surely even the TV companies must think it better if the matches they are covering the support comes across loudly. Stop giving crazy contracts out to players with huge sums of money. Make the players & their agents feel that a 15% cut in the salary will be helping those supporters who pay their huge salaries but reducing the cost of tickets for those very supporters. I say even with 15% reduction they will still be earning (example) £85k instead of £100k a week.  Is that really going to hurt the players? Reduce the cost of transfer fee’s as well.

Having said all this, I do feel that the supporters themselves who attend match days, can do more. Arsenal have a singing section in the ground. I feel that this section should be doing more to create an atmosphere. I attend many matches at the Emirates and am normally in my seat at least 30 minutess before kick-off latest. Yet never is the singing section anywhere near full 10/15 minutes before a match starts. Why is this? Why are these people who have specifically brought tickets for that area not in their seats getting the atmosphere going? I see the players warming up on the pitch and none of them are getting the old Highbury cheers from the fans as they warm up. All you hear is silence unless the announcer mentions a player’s name and the camera’s show him on the big screen.

I’ve seen Mexican waves at matches. They don’t just start. they build up. If the fans who want to start a Mexican wave, then keep going at it long enough, others will join in and then you have a whole stadium doing it, save for those who feel it is beneath them 🙂 I am not advocating Mexican waves just giving an example. The point is if you keep the songs going long enough then other supporters inside what is a very large stadium, huge in fact, will hear and join in. Recently the “We’re the North Bank, we’re the North Bank, we’re the North Bank Highbury” –  “We’re the Clock End, we’re the Clock End, we’re the Clock End Highbury” has made a welcome return and that keeps going and listen to the noise that makes inside the Ems. Once you have the supporters all round the ground whipped up, then the Emirates is rocking. far too often a song is started and fades out quickly. Keep it going singing section!! And keep the songs flowing…

At Crystal Palace on Saturday their home supporters were amazing. Let’s not forget they have won one match. They are the bottom of the league, yet they just don’t stop singing and even the announcer gets them whipped up at the start of each half.

There is no known reason either as to why football supporters can’t sing sitting down –  though I agree it’s best when standing. However, sitting or standing, sing up for the lads as well as yourselves, get the atmosphere going at the Emirates, Old Trafford etc. I watched the Newcastle v Man City League Cup tie the other night on TV and at times you could hear the players calling to each other, so this isn’t just an Arsenal/Emirates problem, it’s a football problem. I am informed though some of the smaller ground and smaller clubs still have a good atmosphere.

You know, I heard someone say the other day, stick 60000 Dortmund or Celtic fans inside the Emirates and it would not be quiet. Yet would 60000 Dortmund or Celtic fans pay £1000 plus for a season ticket, hence you can see why all parties need to get together and come up with the happy medium. Safe standing at reasonable pricing. and give the home supporters a break. All they are trying to do is support the team.

In the meantime let’s get behind the team at home to Liverpool. Let the singing section do their job, after all they wanted it. Arrive early, say 5pm, keeps the songs going loud enough, long enough for the noise to get around the stadium and hopefully others will join in. I’ll try to do my bit in the Clock End upper.



4 Comments leave one →
  1. A. Gooner permalink
    November 1, 2013 13:39

    The problem is that any initiatives the singing section (REDaction) try to bring into the ground, the club blocks everything by putting a load of red tape in the way.

  2. Geoff permalink
    November 2, 2013 11:33

    Firstly it’s a shame you don’t blog that often anymore. We really enjoyed your insisive comments on all things arsenal. I made my first trip of the season to the emirates for Tuesdays match. We too were in the ground around 7pm I was right above the so called singing section in block 7. I can count on one hand how many times I heard block 7 sing throughout the match! I am of an age where I remember standing in the schoolboys enclosure, below the east stand and looking up in admiration and dreaming of when I could graduate to standing and joining in with the singing and the melee that was happening way above to my right. I think people got in earlier in those days because you couldn’t guarantee entry or there position in the stand, also you could take a beer from the bar onto the north bank. Maybe that could be a way for the club to help improve the atmosphere with no reserved seating in the lower tier, so people would get into the ground earlier to guarantee there position with there mates. Also maybe we should stop away fans from the lower tier and the cheep seats! That way we could really create an all round better atmosphere at home games! I love our new ground and don’t often miss highbury but I feel that the supporters of tomorrow are missing out on that feeling of wanting to progress to be part of the throng that I eventually progressed to and help embed The Arsenal into my heart!
    Hope you put finger to key board really soon!

    • January 26, 2014 11:51

      Hi Geoff. Just recently stated doing a few more blogs. I found so many people were starting to do them the subject matter was getting thin on the ground, what with other blogging what I was going to blog. However, I have found that many are just reactionary to what is currently happening and not looking at the bigger picture. Hope you continue to read and find blogs interesting. Maybe one day you’ll write one and I’ll post it as a guest blog.

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