The
WALTER
PILKINGTON
COLUMN

AIN'T GONNA STAND
FOR IT

 

The problem with football fans these days is that they have it so easy. Nice comfy seats to sit on. Hot food available to eat. More choice of hot and cold drinks than a fully stocked off-licence. No problems in seeing the action on the pitch. Video screens to show you replays if you missed it the first time around.

Well, that’s what the old-timers might say about football in 1998, but it’s oh so different from this dream world described above. The seats are never comfortable. I’m afraid that a piece of plastic moulded into the shape of Kate Moss’ arse and separated from the row in front by the length of Janette Krankie’s legs is not my idea of comfort. Indeed, rows are so close together that when someone in the row behind decides that at a crucial point in the game, they have to visit the toilet, they knee everybody in the row in front in the back of their heads. While there may be relief from the “halcyon” days on the Liverpool Kop, where during games it was more expedient to pee down a rolled up newspaper than try to forge your way to and from the bogs, seated fans are at risk of having the backs of their calves scalded by hot tea or coffee which has been kicked over from the row behind. I think the designers of the seating arrangements must hold shares in plastic surgery consultancies as well as plastic seating companies!!

The view from the PVC pew is neither as good as it is supposed to be. Whenever there is any action in one corner of the pitch, the person in the front row nearest the incident stands up creating a Mexican wave of people trying to get a glimpse of what the hell is going on. It then takes those standing a full few minutes to regain their seats before the next ripple starts. Like being at the cinema, you may be unlucky and be stuck behind a basketball player or someone who turns up to games with a tall “Eh Up For The Cup” FA Cup replica type hat on.

The other problem with sitting is that it is always so cold. Maybe this has something to do with my advancing years, but the actual plastic takes a long time to absorb any of your body heat and it is only as the final whistle nears that it has attained a decent temperature. This is the case for the majority of the season; the only exception being the first few weeks, when the plastic has the truly wonderful effect of turning your shorts/trousers/underpants into a soggy mess. (I speak here as a man. I understand that ladies do not sweat and thus probably do not have to suffer the indignity of walking out of the ground looking like they have just come out of a washing machine.

The provision of food at football grounds has improved of late and club’s own brands are proliferating. Indeed, Chelsea fans were recently denied tomato sauce at Highbury at the Coca-Cola Cup semi-final first leg, because it only came in sachets with the Arsenal crest on and to have to use it would have inflamed their passions to a level that the burgers have never witnessed. Most of the food is dire and the Mars bar I bought at Coventry was as solid as the icy piece of plastic I had to park my bum on for the ensuing 90 minutes. The tea and coffee barely rises above the appearance of dishwater and I have never been brave enough to taste the contents of one of those plastic cups that you need asbestos hands to hold.

The video screens are a bonus as you don’t have to stand to see what’s going on in the far corner (but everybody else is so why not), but the FA ruling that contentious incidents are not allowed to be replayed means that it’s value is diminished. I’m sure that refs would be happy to see things one more time (yeah, sure). And anyway, if they did use it to it’s best effect for the fans, they wouldn’t be able to show all their marvellous adverts at half-time !!

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