Is Old Trafford set to change?

by Omar Soliman

With Old Trafford suffering from a pertinent lack of atmosphere, a singing section has been proposed which would see away supporters moved from the L Stand to North Stand Tier Three. Anyone with prior experience of trying to watch the match ‘up in the clouds’ should sympathise for the lack of atmosphere and vantage point akin to observing a match of Subbuteo. Something had to be done to boost an atmosphere that had reached levels of library-esque apathy but is this the best solution? 

For many in K Stand Top Left, the banter between themselves and away fans was their raison d’etre and a huge factor in the seat and block numbers on their season tickets. Maliciously poking fun at others is one of the reasons many go to the game. They can let off steam after the working week and (largely) get away with shouting obscenities to other, like minded, fully grown men. Seeing the whites of the eyes of the very beings that personalise their hatred past a few banks of security personnel was a feature to get excited about. What are they supposed to do now – actually watch the match?

You see, a K Stand regular has a rounded wit; a sharp mind and a lightning-fast tongue. Years have been spent verbally jousting with away fans; taking abuse and delivering it straight back with a qualified riposte. They pride themselves on upmanship and should an away section provide the ammunition, K Stand Top Left will hammer it back.

If an opposition team is being embarrassed on the pitch the verbal humiliation for their following can sometimes be worse. Who remembers the schooling Rangers received both on and off the pitch in 2003? What began as ‘Champions League? You’re having a laugh’ quickly became ‘Premier League?’, ‘Championship?’ with K Stand finally decreeing that Subbuteo was more Rangers’ level.

‘You’re Not Singing Anymore’. Well, you might be, we just cannot see nor hear you. Apart from the odd, inept linesperson, nobody truly wants a bird’s eye view of the action. Yet for those who can climb the calves sapping sets of stairs up there the ‘barely in the same postcode’ view is what they get.

The tier is largely comprised of day trippers due to the lack of season tickets and their raison d’etre is simply being there, going home and smugly announcing that indeed they were at the match. If you thought last season was quiet, placing away fans away from the pitch, and any worthy recipient of banter, will only exacerbate the tedium.

Last season the lack of noise became painfully unbearable. Even away sections had gotten bored with only 320 supporting Fulham’s visit, the smallest domestic away following at Old Trafford since the stadium became all-seater in 1992. Something undoubtedly needed to be done. Yet, if atmosphere is high up on the agenda, why is there an executive box sat bang in the heart of the Stretford End?

Surely gifting that space back to those that rightly deserve it would be a far better idea. Then again, as with so much of the match going experience these days, economics comes into play. While day trippers can say they ‘saw’ the match up in the clouds, many a businessman can return to work boasting he saw the match in the Stretford End.

Sir Alex Ferguson has himself decreed that United’s main vocal support sits (well, you cannot stand can you) in the Stretford End. The end which United choose to attack in the second half towards the support which has carried the team over time and time again.

Simply remove the executives and place the singing section where it has always rightfully, spiritually been. While we may not like them for what they represent, opposition fans are still needed where they are. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer, if only for the sake of banter.

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