As a kid I was taken to several different football grounds and stood on different Kops. I can remember standing at the front when the goals celebrations crushed me against the wall, or standing in the middle and after a goal finding myself twenty rows further forward without taking a step, both frightening and exhilarating at the same time. The Taylor report in the wake of the Hillsborough disaster rightly stopped this. There is no way on earth that any fan should not come home from a football match let alone 96.
But I do now believe that there is a safe alternative to all seater stadiums. Where I stand when a goal is scored often fans fall forward as the back of the seat in front is below the knees and causes a trip hazard (I know this is why the stewards try to make fans sit down). Several clubs are now supporting the Football Supporters Association campaign including Aldershot Town, Aston Villa, Barnsley, Brentford, Bristol City, Burnley, Cardiff City, Crystal Palace, Derby County, Doncaster Rovers, Exeter City, Hull City, Leeds United, Oldham Athletic, Peterborough United, Plymouth Argyle, Portsmouth, Shrewsbury Town, Sunderland, Swansea City, Swindon Town, Watford, AFC Wimbledon, Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Former Leeds CE and now Football League chief executive Shaun Harvey committed to Leeds supporting the changes required to Football League regulations to allow safe standing, I wonder if he feel the same in his new role let’s hope so.
Gary Cooper from Leeds United Supporters’ Trust (LUST) reinforced that LUST members also wanted safe standing to be introduced in the Kop.
So what is safe standing and why is this different from the standing areas that we saw in the pre Taylor years?
Safe standing is know as Rail seating and is currently in use at the Hannover 96 ground and a video of its use can be seen on a YouTube clip the FSF website here
While the Taylor report led to all seater stadia the disaster at Hillsborough was not caused by standing, we now know it was due to poor policing, overcrowding, and stadium layout. The removal of standing areas was at the time the only alternative, since that time safe standing has been developed, tested and reviewed and now offers an alternative to seating in areas where fan would like to stand. If the move to all seater stadiums mean fans were safer why do we not value the fans of League 1 and 2 clubs that same as those fans who follow teams in the top two divisions?
As someone who stands at most games I attend and all of these when following Leeds I think that it is time for a change and I support the proposal to introduce rail seating and safe standing areas to football grounds at all levels, where clubs wish to do so.
Tuesday night me and @colsonsmith went to Oakwell to watch the U21 Cup game between Barnsley and Leeds. A game that took 60 minutes to come to life ended disappointingly when the Leeds team who were better in all areas of the pitch lost to a last minute goal in extra time.
The Leeds team of Cairns, Coyle, Bryan, Zaliukas, Coker, Pugh, Purver, Philips, Dawson, Poleon and Varney lined up 3-5-2.
Against the 4-4-2 of Barnsley who had I thought for a moment had Adebayo Akinfenwa in the side only to be put right that is was Jason Scotland Soccer base has him at 5 foot 6 and 11st 4lb!
The first few minutes of the game were nothing special, after about 20 minutes the Barnsley fans were on their feet celibrating an offside goal!!! Leeds go back up the other end and Dom Poleon wins a penalty. Takingthe penalty himself he puts the ball wide of the left post, the Barnsley fan are on their feet again! That was about all for the first half.
The second half started and after 60 minutes Dawson is replaced by Lewis Cook. On 68 minutes I am writing a tweet moaning about the game and all the Barnsley fans are on their feet again and I see Alex Cairnes picking up the ball from the back of the net! @colsonsmith told me it was a blinder from Jennings but Cairnes should have done better.
Leeds kick off and break into the Barnsley areas and sub Lewis Cook makes it level at 1-1 by kicking the ball at Bobby Hassell and hitting him on the backside and deflecting it in. Barnsley kick off and go straight into the Leeds half Jason Scotland spins in a circle and then another and shoots low and hard past Cairnes 2-1 71 minutes, three goals in three minutes.
Redders changed it at 75 minutes bringing on Lewis Walters for Coker. Walters breaks up the left and slips the ball inside to Varney who heads home 2-2.
The third Leeds goal came from a 80 minute corner new boy Kaliukas scores a back post header 2-3. The Barnsley fans are all going on that this is not the real match and Leeds need to wait until December for the real game!
Five minutes later Cairnes parries a free kick to Danny Rose who nods s home 3-3 and the Barnsley fans are doing a conga along the front of the stand! No mention of December now.
3-3 full time and its extra time all this for a quid!
The extra time was a Leeds master class in attacking without scoring shot after shot was knocked wide or parried by the keeper. Poleon hit the inside of the post and the ball rolled along the line and hit a tuft of grass and rolled back out into play! Purver, Walters, Poleon, Pugh, Denton all put shots on Dibble in the Barnsley goal. Sucker punch time 28 minutes gone Nyatanga scores for Barnsley cue the Barnsley fans “4-3 in your cup final” “We all hate Leeds scum.”
Leeds should have won this, no doubt we had the chances and were better on the night how ever another cup final where we failed to impress. Rob Atkinson has written about this on his Life, Leeds United, The Universe & Everything Blog