The Banner That Refused to Stop Surfing
We maybe coming to the end of the summer, but it felt like spring had come to Villa Park in Villa’s 2-0 win over Swansea City. The improvement on the pitch prompted it, but the seeds of an improved Villa Park atmosphere were merrily sprouting up around the ground. It was like the winter of discontent had finally lifted. Symbolically, the Holte End atmosphere was better than it’s been for a while.
As you’ll know here at MOMS we’ve been following the issue of the ‘One Stan Petrov’ banner, as matter of supporter principle. The flag own by the Villa supporters group Brigada 1874 never had any problems last season when it was surfed for a minute on the 19 minute mark. In fact, the club even used a photo of it on their website and in the Villa programme to symbolise the club and supporter’s backing of their captain. Nine complaints later, after the Everton game, and it was banned.
After we highlighted the issue after widespread supporter disbelief across various Villa supporter forums, the club, worried about the PR disaster they were faced with, called the flag owners and said they hadn’t meant it was ‘banned’ from the ground, but rather it couldn’t be surfed. The club’s head of media also appeared on WM Radio to send a similar message and that “‘banned’ was a strong world'”.
The fact of the matter is the banner ‘One Stan Petrov’ was made to be surfed during the one minute applause tribute for Stan Petrov to sync with the chant of ‘One Stan Petrov’ that occurs. That’s the only reason it’s brought to the ground (I put that in bold, to highlight the fact to people who seem completely out of touch with fan culture. .
The banner is not allowed ‘officially’ to do that. Thus its usage has been ‘banned‘.
Anyway, lets not dwell on the past….
What Happened at the Swansea Game – the Rise of Common Sense?
At the Swansea game, before the game kicked off, a Villa steward had a chat with one of the Brigada Villa supporters. He expressed his support and sympathies with what they were doing, but asked them to ‘play the game’ in terms of not surfing the flag when the 19 minute came. Obviously, the symbolic nature of its display on the 19 minute was reiterated to the steward. To be clear, the Brigada supporters and stewards have a perfectly amicable relationship. There’s no problem there whatsoever.
Anyway, when the 19 minute came, as I’m sure all of you will be glad to know (if you didn’t see it) the ‘One Stan Petrov’ banner was surfed anyway during the 19 minute tribute.
The Brigada showed due care to other supporters, informing MOMS they actually adjusted the banner’s surfing to the left,to avoid some people they believed to have previously complained. A few of the other ‘Villa 9’ seemed to have taken up the offer of alternate seats of sanctuary by the club after the Everton game.
The ‘One Stan Petrov’ banner has surfed again since on the 19 minute mark in the midweek Nextgen game between Villa and Celtic.
As mentioned in a previous post, MOMS reached out to the Football Supporters Federation and more importantly the Liverpool Supporter’s Union, ‘The Spirit of Shankly’. The Liverpool group informed us, while they have a big reputation for their displays and banners (a massive JFT96 one is planned for the three sides of Anfield for the upcoming game against Manchester United), the key to what they do has always been the building up of good relations with the stewards of the club and the stadium manager. I think this hits the nail on the head of how things should move forward at Villa Park.
In building up the Villa Park atmosphere, it should be the people on the ground in the stands, that deal with the practicality of it. Namely the supporters, stewards and stadium manager, rather than the prawn sandwich eating mob to whom ‘Villa Park atmosphere’ is just marketing lingo. The supporters in communication with stewards should be cut some slack and given some trust to get on with the job of matching Paul Lambert’s efforts on the pitch in the stands.
We’d like to thank the Villa Park stewards in exercising common sense in matters that sometimes may go against their actual instructions. We’re sure with decent communication we’ll get on famously and have a few laughs along the way!
PS – Please sign the petition on the top right-hand side of the page to support the continued flying of the ‘One Stan Petrov’ banner.
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