Standing at football one issue that won’t sit down

A packed terrace at Brockville Park watches Falkirk take on Dunfermline in 1974 - but will the game ever see a return of large terraces at stadiums?
A packed terrace at Brockville Park watches Falkirk take on Dunfermline in 1974 - but will the game ever see a return of large terraces at stadiums?
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It’s a question being asked increasingly regularly by football fans - why should I pay to sit down when I want to stand?

The days of packed terraces at major league grounds appeared to have been consigned to history following the 1990 Taylor report and its recommendation that stadiums should be all-seated.

There can be no doubt, in the wake of the Hillsborough disaster and the several tragedies that pre-dated it, that the general condition of football stadia in the UK was allowed to deteriorate to dangerous levels and that much good work has been done since.

But the success of so-called ‘safe standing’ areas in Germany - in which stands can be converted to terraces - has re-energised the debate among Scottish and English football fans.

Celtic are eager to introduce a standing section at Parkhead, but the club’s attempt to move the plan forward was recently thwarted due to police concerns.

Yet the issue won’t go away. A straw poll conducted by The Falkirk Herald on social media this week saw near unanimious favour among Bairns fans for a terrace to be built at Westfield.

For The Benchman, a Heraldsport columnist and terraces veteran, the appeal of standing has never diminished.

“We all lost something when we left Brockville, but the biggest loss of all was the terracing,” he said.

“I loved the Hope Street End and I know that many of my fellow supporters felt it was never the same again.

“The terracing was alive, especially when Falkirk were on song. The terracing gave you options. If an objectionable person or crowd came along, you could move. You gravitated towards like-minded groups. These people became real friends.

“You could also keep warm by moving about and avoiding pins and needles setting in. Medical evidence says we spend too much time on our bahookies - so let’s stand.”

Falkirk director Ronnie Bateman said that the club was not opposed to the idea of terracing, but that it was not on its “to-do list”.

“There are issues of cost and logistics, but we have absolutely no problem with standing at football games. It is not something we are presently considering, but going forward it is not something we would discount.”

Stenhousemuir’s Ochilview Park is one of several smaller grounds - exempt from the Taylor report - that retains a terrace.

Club director Iain McMenemy said that expanding the terraces was not a priority.

“We have no plans to develop Ochilview,” he said. 
“But if we did, it would be towards more seating. Scottish football needs to attract more fans, and families are more likely to want to sit.”