The demise of the ‘home end’

Posted by on Oct 25, 2009 in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Recently, Lanterne Rouge discussed the poor position away fans are often given at Championship grounds.

To that, I add: what about the poor position home fans are often given?

If this sounds bizarre, it is prompted by yesterday’s visit to the Ricoh Arena for a turgid 0-0 between Coventry City and West Bromwich Albion.

It was a rare occasion when I was watching from an executive box, and from this somewhat detached location, I was able — when not admiring the Marbella tans and golf club blazers — to observe how much atmosphere the two different sets of fans generated during the afternoon.

Among the home fans, it was largely flat, apart a knot of around 800 who had positioned themselves at the end of one touchline near to the away fans, and who did their best to drum up a bit of noise and get behind the Sky Blues.

But, outnumbered roughly five-to-one by the travelling Baggies, they were mostly drowned out. Albion’s players must have wondered at times if it was an away fixture.

This isn’t to patronise Coventry. But unfortunately for them, the design of their new ground does not include any obvious position for the younger, more vocal, and dare I say it — working-class — supporters to congregate.

And they’re not alone. While the absence of a noisy ‘home end’ seems chiefly a feature of new stadia, it is also evident at the home of yesterday’s visitors West Bromwich Albion, who did not move ground, but have carried out extensive redevelopment work at the Hawthorns. Fans who want to sing now gravitate towards the Smethwick End, and sit by the away fans, rather than in the traditional Birmingham Road End.

In an admirable attempt to reverse this, a group of fans formed ‘The Bomber Squad’, named after Albion’s all-time leading goal scorer Tony Brown, to try and create a singing area at the back of the ‘Brummie’. But their efforts have so far been in vain.

Is this an inevitable consequence of the move to all-seater, and the growth of family and middle class supporters? Probably, and many chairman may be delighted by that.

But it seems a shame that, when new grounds were built or old grounds redeveloped, there was rarely much thought given to re-creating the traditional ‘home end’, a position where fans of a certain age and mindset could gather, and generate the sort of noisy hubbub that was for so many years a great feature of our game.

Frank Heaven


  1. Lanterne Rouge
    October 26, 2009

    I think stick in the mud season ticket holders have a lot to answer for on this – they won't move, so the vocal support tends to get scattered.

    Did you see that bloke from the Enemy who was featured hobnobbing in the Ricoh boxes on the Football League show?

  2. Lloyd
    October 26, 2009

    Quite a timely post as this topic has come up on my last two away trips: defeats at Baggies and Bristol City. Like at West Brom, the vast majority of the noise at Ashton Gate came courtesy of the small section of fans housed alongside the away supporters in the delightfully cosy Wedlock Stand. Meanwhile, the sloping Atyeo Stand at the opposite end was virtually mute for the entirety of a sometimes pulsating Westcountry derby under the floodlights.

    This replicates the situation at Argyle where the old Devonport End is a shadow of its former, pre-gentrification, self. Over-pricing, family areas and moody season-ticket holders have all played their part, but I'd say that it reflects the general downturn in the vocality of our home support. The last few years have killed our spirit and the football we're playing just isn't conducive to making Home Park a 'fortress'. More like we just wait for the away team to nick a goal before they close up shop and run down the clock while we hesitate towards more lost points.

  3. Frank Heaven
    October 26, 2009

    Watched the feature on The Enemy today. Turns out he was in a box just along from where we were.

    Being filmed in a corporate box doesn't suggest he's a man of the people.

  4. Ben
    October 26, 2009

    The more vocal elements of the home support usually seem to congregate in close proximity to the away end, just because that's where the rivalry can be felt at its keenest and where the banter (pleasant and not so pleasant) is best.

    At Forest the weekend before last, we really did feel surrounded on all sides – which made for a terrific atmosphere among the home fans.

    Conversely, Lanterne Rouge touched on Crystal Palace in his away end piece – there the most animated fans are also closest to the away end, but seem to consist of about a dozen pimply teenagers e-numbered up to the eyeballs and equipped with a big flag and a drum. Quite possibly the most laughable and pathetic thing I saw there all afternoon (and bear in mind the Crystal Palace and Newcastle defences were on full view)…


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