Fences in English soccer stadiums – Why Some Fans Even Miss Them!

Fences In English Soccer Stadiums – Why Some Fans Even Miss Them!

In this soccer scoreboards feature, I have taken a look at the hot topic of fences at English soccer stadiums. Thought to be widely unpopular, they are in fact missed by many older soccer fans across the country. In this article I explain why.

In the rough and ready days of the late 70’s to the early 1990’s, when soccer clubs still belonged to fans, and not to billionaire foreign business interests, one of the most distinguishing features of stadiums we no longer see today was the obligatory fences surrounded the terracing in all UK stadiums.

What no one new at the time was that these fences, which were designed to protect lives, would in fact be partly responsible for disaster on a massive scale. The tragedy of Hillsborough in 1989, in which scores of fans were killed as too many people were let into one sector and were crushed against the fence, led to the rapid changing of the rules, and de-installment of fences across the country. Fences fast became synonymous with football of a yesteryear, a breed of a game which had been rejected in place of the more refined family spectator sport that it is now.

This season there were a few instances that have led to some influential people calling to have them brought back. There were a couple of high profile pitch invasions, and let’s not forget the attack by a fan on Celtic’s manager last April.

So fences can be dangerous and demeaning, and can affect the view of spectators, why would some fans possibly miss them?

Well, fences defined a time when soccer grounds were not all about prawn sandwiches and ergonomic chairs. The people who watched live matches then were genuine fans of the game and their team. They were noisy and passionate, bringing an incredible atmosphere into the stadiums, far from the half-dead sections of stadiums that you see today. Whilst it not was particularly comfortable or pleasant, the soccer sub-culture flourished and admission prices to the stadiums were affordable (unlike today – $120 to see a game, anyone?).

It must also be remembered that fences were not just installed with no thought to the environment. The top clubs had great fences. For instance, Everton’s fences were pleasingly symmetrical and the wide squares meant that they hardly blocked the view at all. In those days, the great art of fence hanging was popular when a goal was scored. At Old Trafford, the fences were made of red lengths of steel, and fans would tie the club’s scarf to them, giving the ground a great sense of feel and character.

As you can see, with English soccer it’s not all about convenience and comfort. Unfortunately, some fans who are for bringing back fences fail to see that their return will certainly not bring back the game to its former glories. Fences or not, it will still belong to the oligarchs and sheiks!

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