Holte Gets New Section
At the recent Aston Villa Supporters Trust AGM meeting with Tom Fox in February, MOMS asked Tom Fox and Nicola Keye about the possibility of a ‘singing section’ (for want of a better term), a section where fans can bring banners, be noisy, express themselves and have more lenient treatment from stewards (as they would be in a section of like-minded fans, thus the need to consider others would be less).
After other clubs like Crystal Palace, Sunderland, Manchester United and Manchester City have had the foresight to work with their supporters to create similar sections, it was only right that the mighty Holte End, once the biggest single standing terrace in Europe should have one.
The response suggested it was something they were open to and already thinking about it, as they were full of praise for ‘our ultras’.
The idea for such a section is something Brigada 1874 aka ‘our ultras’ have long campaigned for and with their efforts in all the previous rounds of this year’s FA Cup, the club finally saw the benefits of what they were doing – supporting a team for the entire 90 minutes and also putting in time and effort to make displays to celebrate the club.
If more fans joined in, the results could be even more impressive and beneficial to the home atmosphere.
The club have proposed to start the trial of the section in L7 and L8 of the Holte End from the next home game against Swansea City. The trial will cover the five home games left until the end of the season.
It’s perhaps took another relegation battle (with dwindling attendances) for the penny to drop that something new has to be done to energise support. As the Football Supporters Federation have constantly told MOMS in the past when there’s been issues, clubs like to ‘control’ everything in their ground and not take chances. It’s understandable, but at the same time it can lead to sterile atmospheres and with increasing ticket prices, poor entertainment and value for money.
The section will allow supporters including the Brigada 1874 to up the noise levels and also plan bigger displays (a drum has even been allowed in). When the lads and ladies of the upper Holte (especially K4,5,6) are in full voice, with an increased atmosphere from the Lower Holte, it could be the start of something impressive.
How to get in the section
It’s unclear if there would be any differences in price, but MOMS would certainly support a slight deduction in consideration for the effort and time these supporters put in with the cost of displays etc.
Unfortunately, at the moment you can’t move your ST into those sections and have to book game by game, but it’s a positive step in the right direction. The section also comes sooner than perhaps was expected.
The club will make an official announcement on Monday about details for the section in L7 & L8.
New Name Please
Of course, the club labelling it a ‘singing section’ will cause some unease/misunderstanding with fans, but I think that’s a case of ‘what do you call it?’. Any supporters with good ideas, drop them in the comments below or on MOMS Facebook.
What about ‘Left side’? 🙂
Traditionalists will argue that the Holte always has a voice and better football on the pitch would help the atmosphere. But you can’t escape from the fact that something has to be done, as people are increasingly priced out of going and the onus is on TV.
TV ironically is actually helping focus clubs to the matter of doing something about poor atmospheres at home stadiums across the Premier League. After all, they are getting a lot of money for a product that will lose its shine, if overseas viewers are seeing little atmosphere and passion at games.
Anyway, it’s a positive move for those supporters who want a bit more freedom to express themselves and currently feel uncomfortable doing so in their current section.
Bridge to Safe Standing
In many ways having such a section at Villa Park will be a bridge to the hopeful introduction of safe standing at the ground. It’s a natural transition and the example the section will set can only help the continued process of persuading the powers that be that safe standing is a no-brainer for football.
Fight Like Lions
In other news, the Brigada’s banner ‘Fight Like Lions’ will be hung from the Holte for the rest of the season. UTV
Update 26/10/2015 – The Brigada removed their banner from the back of L7 because of persistent steward harassment and a lack of proper conviction of the club implementing the ‘singing section’.
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Follow Brigada 1874 on Twitter – @brigada1874avfc