Filed: Tuesday, 7th March 2017
Well, I certainly didnít expect to be writing this prior to last night's game.
There have been and continue to be issues at and with the London Stadium. All eight members of my small group have been torn about - and definitely lean towards - not renewing our tickets for next season but that isnít solely a stadium issue, although clearly it doesnít help.
Sadly, I have to report that once again the entry security checks are not worthy of the name; my wife was waived through again last night as "we canít touch her" and only the sleeves of the coats of the gentleman in our party patted down.
A salient lesson to anyone seeking to enter with 'contraband' - even if it's only bottle tops, get ladies to carry them.
I donít know how much the cost of security is at the ground but we, LS185, the club (and indeed the taxpayer) are being ripped off. Lip service is being paid to security, God forbid that a serious incident (let alone terrorist incident) occurs; somebody has the potential for blood on their hands here.
Fans queue for security checks at the London Stadium
Iíve emailed stadium operators LS185 on a couple of occasions about events this season pertaining to issues of security and stewarding. Below is a response I received from Peter Smith, the Stadium Safety Officer:
"Whilst I do not feel that I can comment on specifics, I can tell you that all of our turnstile staff that engage in turnstile searching are independently licenced by the Security Industry Authority.
With reference to identification of our staff, all of our uniform wear for stewards carries a unique identification number and are compliant with the recommendations of the Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds.
"We continue to strive to eliminate abuses of ground regulations and offenders who continue to flout the law in respect of smoking and the consumption of alcohol. LS185 along with West Ham United continue to take action to identify offenders and have with the support of the Metropolitan police prosecuted and successfully banned a number of offenders."
With regards to the Mr Smith's final comment, sadly there are a group of attendees - I'm not willing to call them fans or supporters - who are more interested in drinking and smoking in their seats, causing aggravation, being abusive to those around them and generally acting like 'Football Factory' wannabes.
Last night some of the group members were sitting in Block 141, however they are part of a larger group who interchange seats on a regular basis including mid-game.
I personally do not have a problem with drinking in view of the pitch - we generally seem to manage quite well at rugby, cricket and gigs, after all - however it is indicative of the general apathy of stadium operators that this occurs in full view of the stewards with no action.
At last night's game, a full pint of beer was thrown at the Chelsea players celebrating Eden Hazard's opening goal by one the group in question.
The behaviour of these individuals has continued to deteriorate over time but a polite request for them to sit down last night was meet with a volley of abuse and threats. An explanation that they were blocking the view of a 72-year-old disabled fan was greeted with "well thatís his fucking problem".
A former work colleague a couple of rows behind us was assaulted as the group left the ground early for having dared to try and intercede. All of this in full view of the non-responsive stewards at the top and bottom of the aisle.
Not that I particularly blame the individual stewards as pubescent adolescents might be a better description, although Iím sure our child labour legislation would preclude that; however no call to, or arrival of any of the response teams to either incident is clearly unacceptable.
I do not attend matches to have a fight with random, abusive drunks. I'm just there to watch a game of football - and so is my family. My father, a disabled fan of 72 and my wife were both very upset at the whole incident and the increasingly toxic atmosphere generally.
I was unexpectedly unable to attend the recent Crystal Palace fixture at the last minute and my 14-year-old niece was desperate to go in my place - but how in good conscience could I expose her to these Neanderthals? My former colleague faces a similar dilemma for the Leicester City game, yet another empty seat no doubt.
Having listened to Ray Winston state in 'Iron Men' that "the London Stadium is not about us, itís about our kids" and Lady Brady saying the club has "a responsibility to the fans", I thought it might just be me. Seriously Ray, come down out of the lounge and join the working man; I have some tickets going spare.
And Karren? You failed. Nothing more than that needs to be said.
Yes, itís football and not opera but weíre in the 21st century now, not some romanticised version of the 1970s as some would have us believe. I have travelled home and away to hundreds of games to see my beloved Irons including visits to the Den, the old as well as the new. I know what it was like, been there, got the t-shirt etc.
To be told today that "I worried about you going to football for years but the last decade has been stress free, after last night, please tell me youíre not going anymore". To have a wife in tears saying "I hate it, I feel really afraid, please donít go because if you do Iíll have to go too to make sure youíre ok".
It's a very sad state of affairs that after 65 years' regular attendance for my father and 70 odd for the other three adults in our group (including about 80 as season ticket holders, Iím not counting the teenagers amongst us) we do not feel sufficiently secure. Therefore we will no longer be attending the London Stadium.
There's a lot wrong with the club right now, despite all the glitzy logos and flash bullshit. If they want this type of fan, then they are welcome to them. For now, I'm done.
Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.
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