Attending a live football match!! | Vital Football

Attending a live football match!!

stokeimp

Vital Squad Member
#1
Yesterday I attended my first football match since watching the Imps beat Burton in March, and thought I’d feedback my experience/feelings. My general feeling on being out anywhere these days is very cautious, and certainly not blasé

It was the Northern Premier League game between Stafford Rangers and Ashton United, and had a mandatory 600 crowd limit. In context, last season, which would have ended in relegation if not for covid, SR were getting around 500; two or three seasons ago, when they were promoted back to this League, crowds exceeded 1000. Capacity is 3000, so the permitted attendance was 20% of capacity. For this game Ashton had an allocation of up to 90, though don’t know how many were taken up, and season ticket holders were asked to notify the Club if they intended to attend. The outcome was that 350 people could pay on the gate, through one of two turnstiles. The published crowd was 595.

Outside the ground, contact details were taken, or a black square thing could be scanned. Ashton had taken details of their fans as part of their ticket sale process

The majority of people stand, and anyone sitting in the stand had to wear a face covering; some standing also chose to do so

I arrived early at 2.25 (normally on a Saturday I would aim to be there 5 mins before kick off), and it was fairly quiet. Don’t know what it was like later

Once inside, there is an area where people tend to congregate waiting to see which way SR will kick first half, and there is a snack bar in that area. My son and grandson were unable to go, but I would normally meet them there, as well as a friend. It was ok, but I felt uncomfortable with the number milling around and walked up to the opposite end of the ground, and sat on a step and read the book I had taken with me. There were several supporters already in the ground and they were fairly spread out

When the game was about to start I walked to the opposite end (which SR were attacking), found my friend and we were able to stand together, and although not everyone may have been a metre or two apart, people did feel spread out, and it was outside of course with people facing the same way. We then changed ends at half time, and it felt reasonably (though not entirely) comfortable doing so

One concern I have – not for me directly, but at a Club level – is that in both halves there were people getting together right behind the goals, to chant and sing, who did not appear to be socially distanced (difficult to see from an acute angle). There were two young female stewards who tried to talk to them (presumably female to avoid confrontation), and there appeared to be some limited movement. In the second half, now under a cover (we would normally stand there, but this time stood outside, away from the larger numbers), there was almost constant chanting. The atmosphere and support were great, but again, guidelines were being breached

A word on drinking/alcohol – normally drinking in the stadium at Marston Road is not allowed (though in many NPL stadiums it is), and supporters have the choice of drinking in the members bar in the Club, which is a fairly small room, and packed on match days, or a fans bar in the stadium, which, again, is a small room. Yesterday, one of the concert rooms – which opens onto the stadium - was used as a bar. Although not buying drink I had a look in at around 2.30, and people were sitting at well spaced tables, and queuing responsibly for the bar. Fundamentally, drinking outside was allowed, so that took pressure off the inside facility

In a nutshell, although there have been some home friendlies with a smaller crowd (which I didn’t attend) this was the first League match under the new regs. It seemed to go ok and I wasn’t put off going again, though I’ll still be nervous. But what concerns me is that if anyone from the local council was there as an observer, I wonder how they will react to the “vociferous” supporters who appeared not to be too seriously following guidelines – or am I being over cautious?

Lessons for LCFC?

Clearly there are major differences. SB is all seater, whereas Marston Road is almost all standing.

SR has a very small staff, whereas the Imps has a professional administration, so there is no reason why events cannot be well planned and managed

All those attending early Imps matches will be Season Ticket holders, who would be expected to behave responsibly and are easily traceable

With people sitting in preallocated seats, the issues are movement around/within the stadium, and pinch points such as toilets, bars and snack bars – these latter issues are probably the most fundamental, and I doubt that rules on drinking in the stadium rules will be relaxed

Sorry for the rambling nature of this post!
 
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HoofGrantBrown

Vital Reserves Team
#3
That's a very interesting write up.

Because people in crowds naturally behave literally as a crowd, people keeping distance etc is going to be very hard to enforce. Human nature is what it is.
As you said, a fully seated stadium is best suited for maintaining safe distances. Sincil Bank also has means to allow one way entry and exit routes. I would think the turnstiles would be bypassed and the wider doorways used instead (if we do ever get allowed back).
Bar/catering areas are more problematic but again with clear one way systems and distanced queuing, things could be done safely. And with a smaller number inside and making people arrive in plenty of time, queues could be handled ok.
Maybe half times could be 30 mins to allow time for people to visit catering and/or toilets. And use of toilets would also be another problem area. They're not ideal anyway but I'm sure the club could put something better and safer in place (and probably already had done so in anticipation of a fans return this month, now aborted).
 

Rob the Imp

Vital 1st Team Regular
#4
Good points raised, and hope you enjoyed the experience!

There are certainly a lot of issues to be dealt with. I like the idea of extended half-time and one that could perhaps be used is only portaloos for toilets - should be much easier to keep folk separate that way, so long as everyone either cleans the door handles before and after use or, as some places have, use foot-operated means to open the door. Not perfect by any means but could most likely be refined with more heads debating these solutions. As someone who hates touching things in public toilets normally, I at least am very good at opening doors etc with feet and elbows!

One day we'll get back to watching football properly. I believe.
 

HoofGrantBrown

Vital Reserves Team
#5
Don't like those cramped blue plastic portaloos. Tiny floor area always swimming in piss, no way of hand washing etc.

But there are "luxury portaloos" out there. Proper washbasins and so on. If we do get to go back, I'm sure people wouldn't mind a small charge for use of safe facilities and even including attendants to assist with orderly queuing and maintenance of hygiene.
 

NottyImp

Vital Football Legend
#6
770 cases at Northumbria University just two weeks into the academic year.

We ain't watching live football any time soon.
 

HoofGrantBrown

Vital Reserves Team
#7
770 cases at Northumbria University just two weeks into the academic year.

We ain't watching live football any time soon.
Wow seems total folly getting students to go to all the universities. Students will basically get drunk and drunk and more drunk (I was one once and complied fully with that process!). So no one will be 2 metres from anyone else. No groups of 6. Just everyone infecting everyone else.
 

NottyImp

Vital Football Legend
#8
Wow seems total folly getting students to go to all the universities. Students will basically get drunk and drunk and more drunk (I was one once and complied fully with that process!). So no one will be 2 metres from anyone else. No groups of 6. Just everyone infecting everyone else.
Yep. See the coronavirus thread for more thoughts on this.