Boleyn Ground. 18th August 2012.
For 90 minutes most of the travelling Aston Villa away supporters who’d came to witness Paul Lambert’s first game as Villa’s manager, sat in the Sir Trevor Brooking Stand baking in the hot sun, as a 30+ degree heat wave gripped East London. It was beautiful weather to mark the start of a new Premiership season. Having brought my ticket on the day, I was forced to sit high up in the Alpari Stand just to the right of the Villa faithful. The Villa fans below were shielding their eyes from the direct sun to watch the game. While the heat in the Alpari was stifling, it was at least shaded from any direct sun. A small consolidation at least for missing out on sitting with my fellow Villans.
The heat was so intense that Villa players were already taking in liquids in breaks in play after only about 20 minutes. Unlike some fans though, they hadn’t had a few beers before the game. Nevertheless, fans could grab a half-time over-priced refreshment to avoid dehydration…or so they thought.
Now, most football fans aren’t ones to complain about things and they are used to putting up with minimal comfort at football grounds (considering the cost of tickets), but the situation that transpired at the Boleyn Ground went even beyond that threshold.
Even fans that left their seats a shade before half-time, were faced with a big queue for the one kiosk (with five staff) catering for around 2600+ Villa fans. And soon, Villa supporters were told the soft drinks and water had run out. Not a great situation anyway, but factor in a stifling heat, and you have a potential problem.
While fans were getting decent sun tans for their £39 tickets, they were at serious risk of dehydration, especially the children in the crowd. While ‘health and safety laws’ will banded about by clubs when they don’t want supporters to do things (like bring in banners to Villa Park) , what Villa supporters experienced at the Boleyn Ground was certainly negligence under the health and safety act.
Having contacted the West Midland’s Police Football Force Unit about the situation, I was informed they weren’t aware of the problem on the day. They had informed the respective football police unit at West Ham, that Villa would bring a full allocation back when the fixtures were announced. Obviously, there was also an oversight and poor planning by West Ham in terms of reacting to the heat on the day at the ground. The West Midlands Police Force unit will report Villa supporter’s problems to the Ground Safety Officer at West Ham.
The Football Supporters Federation – of whom MOMS is an affiliated member – has also been informed, and they can hopefully also approach West Ham (and other grounds), to ensure in the name of the safety of away fans, that such a situation doesn’t happen again. It’s a shame this problem occurred to take the gloss of the good atmosphere at the ground, with the home fans also in fine voice.
If it was a few degrees hotter though, who knows what could have happened?
Some MOMS Villa Supporter’s views of their Boleyn Ground experience
‘It was absolutely horrendous, it was so hot as well, it is definitely a health and safety issue. I heard people complaining to the stewards, but they weren’t bothered to be honest, they said keep moving; there was nowhere to move to, that was the whole point! It was dangerous, in my opinion!’ – Sarah
‘They know the away allocation, they know what time half-time is, it’s a complete joke.’ – Chris
‘One kiosk for over 2000 fans. I had to queue with my young daughter in horrific temperatures nearly fainted. Dreadful’. – Julie
‘I was appalled and surely it’s a health and safety issue. At one point i thought i was going to get crushed – one bar, five staff for around 3000 fans !!!! Not good enough – this is premier league not championship.’ – Michael
‘You get treated better in prison, it was shocking. I’m 26 and could cope with it, but god knows how people’s kids did!’ – Daniel H
‘It was a joke – one bar for three thousand fans. I went down for a beer on 35 mins and didn’t get one till 4 o’clock – shocking in this day in age!’ – Daniel H
‘Everyone waiting for a drink was complaining about service/facilities. I only saw one steward and she didn’t say anything. It took me 30 mins to get served in what was basically a sauna! And they had no water, soft drinks or change! ‘ – Karl
‘It was shocking at west ham !! Outside was about 30+ degrees, so god knows how hot it was inside ? I went to get a drink, but couldn’t be bothered to wait and to top it off I was in row c, three from the front and in the sun all game.’ – John
‘The conditions were very bad , waited about 30 minutes in the q to get a drink at the only kiosk, they had no change everyone was packed in like sardines, by the time I got away from the kiosk, I was dripping wet like most others as the heat was sauna like , what a joke.’ – Ash C
‘It was an absolute shambles…’ – Daniel T
‘Half time was a disgrace! It was a sweaty rat race just for a drink! Charging that much money the service and facilitys were a joke!’ – Jack R
‘West Ham knew a week ahead of the game what the weather would be like and did not prepare properly for it and for the fact that Villa had sold out their allocation of tickets.’ – Mark R
‘There was no point of even going into the concourse, no room whatsoever, a lot just stayed in their seats @ HT’ – Nathan
‘I didn’t even bother going down there after hearing complaints from others returning empty-handed even before the half time whistle.’ – Mike
‘The conditions were horrendous at half time trying to get a drink in the concourse.’ – Nigel P
‘It was a disgrace, could of easily been another Hillsborough’ – John F
‘One of, if not the worst, away ends in football’ – Daniel S
If you were at the game in the Away section of the Sir Trevor Brooking Stand, please let us know your experience in the comments below or feel free to email us on [email protected] . Afterall, it’s not cheap to follow Villa away from home, so you deserve a certain level of respect and treatment.
Follow MOMS on Twitter @oldmansaid , so you can tweet any problems at matches.
West Ham knew what the weather was going to be like a week in advance.But so did every Villa fan in attendance. Would not have hurt you to pick up a (cheaper) bottle of water, or two, before hand and taken it into the ground. No?I won’t mention the way we’re treated in midlands, or that it’s just as bad in the home section
FreddyWHP No, I agree. Standards across the board need lifting for all fans – especially, when you consider the prices we pay and the costs involved (travel etc).
Been to Villa Park and St.Andrews and both times was treated like cattle. Address your own place first before you start dishing it out.
jcullen12 Main factor is the poor pre-planning for the heat – on the drinks front. A few degrees more and it could have got serious. All away fans at every ground are treated like cattle – it’s a universal problem, we’ve all got to raise the awareness of and change together. I think we all have the same problems with how the game is run in terms of the respect shown to supporters. I thought both sets of fans were great at the game on Saturday and deserve better in terms of facilities and treatment.
MyOldManSaid Dear Sir
I had to write in reply to your complaints about the Visitors section of
The Boleyn Ground and its stewarding and Policing issues. Whilst it is
certainly not perfect i would like to point out the following:
You have the cheapest seats allocated you…unlike Villa Park where the
away fans were moved because you wanted to the away fans to buy seats
you couldn’t sell along the side.
You have room to get down to the bar…unlike the upstairs of your
visitors section now. You also have to wait half hour to get to the
You moan about taking half hour to get a beer….something that would
take a lot longer in the away area at Villa Park as you don’t even serve
You moan about Policing and Stewarding…where even you know that West
Midlands Police are by far the most aggressive and least professional
service in the whole country. I can still taste the pepper spray from a
Carling Cup semi final at your neighbours. This while having my 11 year
old Son with me !!!
I think you have some front Sir…
Romford MyOldManSaid Dear Romford, This is not a competition of who’s the worst. Or a go at West Ham generally. It’s flagging the universal problem of the poor treatment of all away fans, plus, the potential danger at stake at Saturday’s game due to poor forward-planning to tackle such a heat wave. If it was a few more degrees more, they would have been carrying out passed-out dehydrated kids or worst; then they’d be a big problem. No ‘moaning’. I’m just doing the maths – One kiosk (five staff) to service 3000 fans. That’s not good in anybody’s book, even before you factor in the heat.I’m sorry to hear about your pepper spray incident…I’m even more sorry you didn’t truimph in that semi-final. There are seperate divisions of the West Midlands Police for each club. So far, my dealings with the Villa section have been ok. No complaints.The away fans at Villa Park were mainly moved under the instructions of Martin O’Neil to try to generate more of a home bias atmosphere. I don’t know what it’s like in the new away section as I refuse to go in that stand, as I can’t believe a chairman would have the ego to name a stand after himself, but you surely can’t miss the facilities in the old away end. Although the North Stand is scheduled for a revamp to bring it up to the standard of the rest of the ground.As I said, at the start, poor conditions are a universal problem for all football fans. I went to Twickenham for the first time, a couple of years ago for an England rugby game, and in terms of catering facilities and options, it was like I’d died and gone to heaven, compared to football grounds.It’s a case of getting the word out that we derserve better conditions for the silly money we pay to watch football and that we would appreciate a little more respect from the money men and authorities. We’re not in the 70’s now smashing up Saturday Specials.Good luck for the rest of the season, and we’ll try to get a nice carpet, selection of the finest ales and whiskey and a good selection of magazines for the away end at Villa Park, when the West Ham fans pay us a visit later in the season! RegardsMOMS
It was like that pretty much all around the ground, if they did have any drinks at all it was luke warm and over priced, been going to watch the hammers for years now and enjoyed the atmosphere the villa fans brought but been to villa park a few times and had similar experience. Think it’s about time clubs start to cater better for away [email protected]
You treat us like animals in the west Midlands
What goes around, comes around
cantstandtheheat Both sets of fans should be treated better by the powers that be. Make that all football fans.
If it makes you feel any better, us home supporters have to queue like that under the Alpari every week unless you have strong elbows and have learnt not to be polite. Good atmos tho and you lot helped. Robohammer
Robohammer Yeah, I was in the Alpari and gave up trying to get a drink. They have to sort that out, if you have to put up with that every week. If I’m paying £49 a ticket, I want free beer bringing to my seat! It was a top atmos and you guys were great (home fans are normally toss!).
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