Karren Brady’s latest e-mail to West Ham supporters has split opinions among fans as the issue of safe standing once again rears its head.
The vice-chairman has threatened persistent standers at the Olympic Stadium, warning that they could see their season tickets at West Ham permanently revoked.
While her point is clear and her reasons valid, isn’t that a little extreme?
I was at West Ham’s narrow loss to Juventus on Sunday for a chance to see the new ground with my own eyes. Living in the south-west of the country means visits to watch the Hammers play are sparse but there wasn’t a chance I was going to not see this match, the official opening of our new home.
The fireworks were enjoyable, the football itself was pretty decent and the atmosphere will clearly develop into one of the best in the Premier League once the supporters have figured out the space. For me personally there wasn’t too much issue with standing supporters except for a few rows behind.
A small group of supporters decided they wanted to watch the game standing up – fair enough. I don’t personally understand why as they were in the upper tiers of the ground but these gents were on their feet nonetheless.
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However, there were a couple of young children a row or two behind them as well. It’s these young fans, just getting used to the emotions of supporting the Hammers that we need to think of.
Sadly this group seemed less than eager to help. When approached by a steward and asked to sit down they began to sing “Stand up if you love West Ham!”
Very funny the first time, as our entire section (including myself) took to their feet and raised their arms in the air. Not so funny the other 11 or 12 times mind.
West Ham for me is a family thing – I was introduced to the club by my grandfather and have always gone to matches with him.
He was with me on Sunday and, to be fair to him, he pushed himself to his feet the first time the “stand up” chant rang around the ground. But at nearly 70-years-old, and with arthritis, this is not how he enjoys a football match anymore.
Football is a sport that should cater to all fans, and West Ham is no exception. We don’t want to lose the passion that was seen for many seasons in the lower tier of the Bobby Moore stand at Upton Park – indeed those fans should be recognised and praised for their passion.
However, these fans need to be allowed to find their new ‘home’ within our new home – a place where they can stand, sing and shout to their heart’s content.
West Ham as a club needs to help that become a reality, and soon. But until then there needs to be a respect among us, as Hammers’ supporters, to allow each individual to enjoy the game.
My grandfather and I never stood in the lower Bobby Moore but we both want to see the previous occupants given their place at the Olympic Stadium. West Ham is for all of us, and the club needs to help us achieve that.