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Double Standards?

By: Steff Keightley
Date: 25/02/2001

This was going to be a report on today's game at the City Ground, against Nottingham Forest. All was going well until half time and when Forest equalised. Then all hell broke loose. Several Town fans were ejected from the ground.

One, a 19-year-old lad, who had defended his 12-year-old brother, after he had been elbowed by a Steward and thrown down 4 sets of seats, eyewitnesses reported after the game.

Whether the elbow was deliberate or not is not what I am questioning, it is the high handed actions and double standards used by Stewards at The City Ground today, which leads to my assumption that away fans are treated like second class citizens. This does not just happen at Forest, but at nearly every Football Club in the country.

A young man defended his brother, asking for an apology, yes we were all in a high-octane situation, Forest had just scored, and he may or may not have sworn, but the steward should have apologised for his action.

Instead the young man was ejected from the ground for swearing. Several 'Security' people, not Police, had him in an arm lock, obviously in pain and the "culprit" was lead away.

I agree that foul and abusive language and gestures are used at football matches. They are as much part of Football as is a Pie and Bovril, though unsavoury. Fans need an outlet to vent their frustrations, or would the Stewards and Police prefer a riot? I think that they wouldn't, so they should just let the swearing and gesturing ride, unless the person is causing a breach of the peace, but define 'Breach of the Peace'? The whole crowd could be arrested if the Police went by the letter of the law.

The main purpose of this little diatribe is the fact that we were treated like cattle, 3-1 fans to stewards and blocked in. Dictated to as to where to sit all because Nottingham Forest made a mistake in the previous game, where they expected 1500 Sheffield Wednesday fans, but got nearly 3000. So we got the backlash because of their error.

Early on in the game, a steward came across to one of Coxey's group and asked him to stop gesturing to the opposing fans. No problems there, the young man said 'OK' and apologised for his actions. Well stewarded and sensibile on both sides.

Then at half time several coins were thrown from the tier above us. One hitting a couple behind us, and another narrowly missing Jayne and her son, who is 5. On approaching a steward I asked for assistance, explained the situation, and requested to either speak to his supervisor or a Police officer. To which he replied he couldn't get hold of either at the moment, but would get one to speak to me.

He picked up a coin and put it in his glove for safekeeping.

During the incident after Forest had scored, many home supporters could clearly be seen gesturing at the Town fans, from the right, left and behind us. What did the Stewards around them do? Absolutely nothing! Not a Jot! Zip! Diddly Squat! Whatever you want to call it, but there was no reaction from any of the Stewards in the vicinity of the offenders.

On asking the Supervisor at the end of the game, I was told that it was basically 'Not my Stewards, so I have no control.' I'm sorry but this is not good enough, surely these Stewards are, briefed and trained before being allowed onto the terraces? One would think that they are, if they are going to do this to the away fans then surely they should use the same rules on the home fans.

But NO. Double Standards again. It boils down to keeping home fans attending the games. The fact that we only go there once a year gives them carte blanche to eject any away fan from the ground that they feel deserves it. Who, on probably 6 out of 10 occasions, they would let ride with home fans.

So what does this mean? This means that away fans are being treated as second class citizens. Not only through poor and double standards of stewarding, but also through ticket prices. £19 pounds today, £17 pounds at Blackburn and no concessions for away fans at any grounds, that I know of.

Surely if a club gave concessions to away fans they would attract more? OK these fans would be getting in for cheaper, but there would be more fans turning up, so spending the money they save on programmes, food and drink, therefore bringing more money into the club.

To conclude, all this boils down to is customer care. Treat the away fans (customers, because that is what we are) as human beings, not pieces of meat or different from home fans, and then you will find a difference in the attitude of the away fans, so making everybody's life a lot easier.

Steff's Letter of Complaint to Forest

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