When West Ham United moved into the ‘London Stadium’ there were always going to be little teething problems, when has a house move ever been simple and straightforward?
When you move house in life, you do your research, learn the area, learn your new surroundings and check the infrastructure of the building you’re set to spend your life in, but there is general things you can safely know when you move into a new home.
I have made the two trips so far that have taken part in our famous new home, and I must say my first experiences on the whole have been very positive, my sightlines are quality, and the stadium itself is beautiful and stunning. So on that front, the board deserve an almighty pat on the shoulder.
However, the massive talking point, and teething problem that has reared its ugly head is the great stand vs sit debate.
My first initial reaction is that this isn’t even a debate, the West Ham faithful never had a problem with fellow supporters sitting in the old West Stand and East Stand at the Boleyn, but suddenly there seems to be a great deal of anger towards fans sitting down at the London Stadium.
I have had a season ticket in the Bobby Moore Lower at the Boleyn, where I stood week in, week out, and also have attended many away games where I am the first to sing ‘Stand up if you love West Ham’.
I have also sat for a season or two in the East Stand upper and lower at the Boleyn, it is a different experience, and at times I did look in awe at the Bobby Moore Lower last season itching to get involved as those around me sit and clap along meekly.
My seat now is in the impressive East Stand of the London Stadium has had a great deal of talk surrounding it. Me personally on my two visits thus far has seen me sitting in my rather plush white seat.
Not because I want to particularly, but because common sense dictates that it is the right thing to do, I have families around me and kids around. This is where the great debate begins, and the buck has to stop with the club.
Having attended my appointment in person to secure my season ticket, there was no clear indication as to where fans would be able to stand and make a noise, and those who wanted to sit and enjoy the game because they may not be able to stand for ninety minutes.
In my opinion, whilst the experience itself during my ‘Founders appointment’ was a positive one, in hindsight, there was much that could be done to fix this problem there and then. Fans in the Bobby Moore Lower, and Sir Trevor Brooking Lower are known to stand, some have been shifted into the East stand, promised with a ‘Kop’ like atmosphere.
Now, the Kop at Anfield is standing room only, so to coin that term was naïve in itself. During the Europa League clash with NK Domzale, there was immediate friction with fans sitting around me, indeed, one fan shouted “You should be sitting at half-time and standing during the match, not the other way round, come on this is West Ham United”.
Whilst, this may well be true in some aspects, we all want a ferocious intimidating atmosphere; we need to have some common sense. Firstly, the rules dictate that fans should be seated in all-seater stadia. So the club is stuck between a rock and a hard place.
The trouble is for the club, by Premier League law, fans are supposed to sit down for ‘health and safety reasons’, therefore the club, and Karen Brady in particular have to be seen to say the right things in the press, no matter how much we fight tooth and nail, it won’t change the noises that come out from the club.
Football in the top leagues is losing its soul, its not just at West Ham, its every club in the top-flight, when can you remember last going to a ground and left impressed by the atmosphere, I know I haven’t. Crystal Palace maybe?
But even that is a small pocket of ‘ultras’ behind the goal, much like West Ham. Behind the goal is where the atmosphere is built, and put simply, and the club must realise this, behind the goal will always be standing, and fans that buy a season ticket there should expect to stand. Whilst fans that sit side on must respect that it is normally a sitting area.
Of course, there will always be the fear of turning into a corporate club in a plastic stadium, like Arsenal, we all know though that the core West Ham supporters won’t allow that to happen.
We need now to unite as a club, and create our own special atmosphere and this hatred and tension towards fans who sit has to stop, use your brain, if those around you are sitting, show some respect and sit, if everyone around you is standing, you’re one of the lucky few thousand, stand, be proud and make as much noise as you can – at the end of the day West Ham United is as much about us the fans, than those on the players on the pitch.
We can make a right old noise together, whether we are sitting, standing or crouching. So let’s put this debate to one side, help the board to realise we can behave and we can still create a special atmosphere at our new home.
Come on you Irons!