NEWS COMMENT: Safe standing area at Fratton Park is worth an experiment

Should standing areas be brought back to Fratton Park?
Should standing areas be brought back to Fratton Park?

COMMENT: A move in the right direction but still not a win for all

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There is now an entire generation of Pompey fans who have never been able to watch their team at Fratton Park while standing – for 90 minutes that is.

They have never experienced the camaraderie of the terraces, the bonding or the unique life-affirming atmosphere that once existed at all our football grounds, among those who stood.

There are young fans who have never perched on rickety wooden contraptions knocked up in their dads’ sheds just so they could get a glimpse of perhaps half the pitch and some of their heroes.

Most of the time the precarious nature of those stools did not matter because the mass of bodies wedged the young ones in mid-air anyway.

But having thousands of fans standing on insecure concrete steps, surging and shoving their way across the terrace was just a catastrophe waiting to happen.

And it came at Hillsborough on April 15, 1989, when 96 Liverpool supporters were crushed to death on the Leppings Lane end of Sheffield Wednesday’s ground.

It was the resulting Taylor report which recommended all-seater stadia and probably the safest and some of the most up-to-date grounds in the world.

So why would we want to undo that?

People moan about the gentrification of football; the executive bosses, the prawn sandwich brigade and the family stands. The atmosphere has gone, they say. But surely spectators’ safety is more important?

Of course it is. Yet part of us can see some merit in Councillor Scott Harris’ plea to bring some safe standing back to Fratton Park.

It would require a law change. If that came, perhaps it would be worth a trial to see if it rekindled the old Fortress Fratton atmosphere from terraces.