Tag Archives: soccer

Put an end to our culture of drunkenness

I was going to make today’s entry about Passenger’s Charters on trains – what companies really ought to pledge to passengers, and a code of conduct for passengers to each other. I wrote a humorous column on the latter 10 years ago, but my gripes remain and have multiplied, especially since portable music and computer games have come back into fashion. I wrote on Hubpages about noise pollution and the needless sounds of electronic equipment; the prevalence of screens; and high decibels in both public and private places. Public transport remains an area where we are subjected to the tastes and activities of others, just as we are in the home, especially in more pleasant weather when windows are opened.

In both noise pollution and anti social behaviour, there seems a claiming of territory where just a few make a noise that is thrust upon the rest of us. It’s only one window in every block of flats, one tish, tish beat from headphones in each train carriage. Now those noises are in the street and our libraries. One of the latter ran a campaign called ‘anything but shh’ but some people enjoy the quiet of a library to read and work. Any city centre library I know renders that impossible, and now loud voices, mobile phones and audio visual from the net are rarely curtailed at all.

However, what has really brought me to sit down and write is drunkenness. I have witnessed football fans spoil journeys from 6am til late at night, again because of being addicted to those little ring pulls on cans they can’t stop downing. However, it is not just football that makes journeys rowdy and unpleasant. Travelling at a reasonable hour on a branch line into a city, I was accosted by a train full of young yobs on their way for a night out. I had thought that on a week night the train would be empty and that it was too early for those at the end of a night and too late for anyone going out. Yet this seems prime club time, and those on board where already way past it before they eve boarded. They illegally chain smoked in toilets, (and also avoided fares in there) and were not curtailed at all by staff – eve when there were only a few of them.

What pub or shop or venue would allow such a crowd in without a word?

It seems again that rail staff are more interested in their own interests than that of their passengers. They are more interested in collecting the revenue from unruly passengers – even though many of these are the chief fare dodgers – than making journeys pleasant for decent members of the public, who are increasingly choosing not to travel due to this matter.

There badly needs to be training and support for rail staff. The conductor is mostly alone and I have already commented on the lack of transport police.  Where many businesses will not open with only one member of staff, trains run permanently like this, even on very long trains and late at night or where trouble is known to be likely.

But there is a greater problem: our drinking culture. Scotland had adverts in cinemas to discourage this and it is something that any country with this problem needs to take up. It was designed to undo the idea that being very drunk is something to boast of or encourage. Although there’s been attempts to stop drink being consumed by getting at places that sell alcohol, the real problem is with individuals. They need to stop the idea that such large consumption is acceptable or good.

I don’t want lots of laws and fines and people being questioned and hauled off by police in militia style. After today’s news about the public anger at police kettling protesters and the 30 year anniversary of the Brixton/Bristol riots I do not advocate any change in policing or law that lends itself to more of this. We want to be free to enjoy our activities. Clubbing and sport are not bad in themselves. However, drinking has become a sport in itself, and the dancing or the game sometimes are not what the evening is about. For some, it’s about picking fights; for others it’s simply getting hammered.

A stronger attitude in work places would be a start – that a serious hangover is a disciplinary offence and that it is not something to share without shame. That, as the Scottish adverts said, we let people say no to another alcoholic drink; and that soft and hot drinks are never sneered on. Bars keeping hot drink machines on later helps – I note they are often switched off early in the evening and staff can grumble if customers ask for a latte. I realise they take longer to make and the machines need cleaning out, but staff are able to accommodate coffee making at other busy times – why not late at night? Aren’t cocktails time consuming to make?

Places of education could also assist; instead of assuming that drunken students are inevitable, take the attitude that this is not the advertisement you wish to make for your establishment. Is this how you want your company to be seen?

Football clubs want to attract people and be synonymous with their city, but poorly behaving fans mark against the city and the club. The same is true generally of bad behaviour. My recent trips make certain towns yob cities in my mind now, regardless of how others might behave and all the attractions they have. Football and other sports clubs should also work to discourage their supporters from spoiling it for all those majority of well behaved people who also enjoy spectating.

The argument that drink makes a venue money untrue as alcohol is often cheap and not much more than a soft or hot drink. Whereas venues need to make enough to keep in business, it is wrong to do so by encouraging antisocial behaviour which is also damaging to those undertaking in it.

The Quakers newsletter recently featured an old temperance poster about football and alcohol. One wonders if temperance oughtn’t return. There is nothing wrong in drinking in moderation, but so many people seem to have no idea how to do that. Without being prescriptive and controlling, isn’t it time we helped them?

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Why do we allow football to govern our society?


Would we permit any other facet to so dominate?!

Norwich City stops traffic on match days, but the football ground is part of a busy inner link road. Traffic is snarled up around the ground for 40 minutes – just at the time when shoppers are finishing their afternoon and  people are arriving for an evening out. For local residents, it means they cannot cross the road outside their home as cars from the football carpark are queued up. After having heard the shouts all afternoon carry to their homes, this extra part is one too much. A smaller road is shut for an entire afternoon. 

There are lots of reasons to live in this part of the city. Whether you work at the retail park, commute by train, need to be in walking distance from the centre, or are involved in the night clubs – this southeastern corner is the best place to live. It’s also an area of smart new riverside homes, and conversely includes an area where housing benefit is more readily accepted. All these suffer from the ground. The prolonged closures were announced on a small level at short notice and without any consultation with residents.

It means non football fans are planning their day around something they are not interested in or partaking of, and quite often, having their day spoiled by it. There is a huge resentment about the club in the city, and for all its claims of putting money in the economy – it does not support anything that I am interested in, or plenty of others.

 The football ground is too central in Norwich; most other cities have them further out. It affects the city centre on foot and by car. Why was not the opportunity taken during the development of Riverside retail and leisure park and the new inner relief roads to deal with the traffic problems? Why wasn’t a provision made for the large amounts of people leaving the stadium? Shutting the road is ludicrous as football has more sway over the public than the needs of everyone else.

The leaking sound problem would be helped if the stadium was round and had no gaps at the sides for the cheers to leak out of. I have lived near far larger stadia with less trouble. One factor was having enclosed, circular seating. This would mean that only those who chose and paid to attend would hear the matches and pop concerts held here.

The stadium holds only about a tenth of the population – which doesn’t include all the workers and visitors in a regional capital with a wide catchment area. There as many people who hate football as love it: passion goes both ways. A supporter once rudely called this point of view selfish: yet this attitude is the selfish one. To say that football trumps all is wrong and unfair.

As I write, my city has been closed at short or no notice for a major fan party. Bus stops are out of use; the library was unbearably loud and a reflective act of worship became very hard to focus on. In our recession and cuts, high levels of security are paid for, including wasted little hand held poppers, which then needs extra money to be cleaned up. I have never seen the streets so disgusting. Hooters and uncouth shouts fill the air, audible from some distance, many hours after the gathering. Teens kick cans around the street which police ignore. I’m in my home and had planned to read, and I also need to buy food, but both are affected.

We are also expected to put up with major matches football in our neighbour’s homes, our streets, and pubs that are nothing to do with sport try to attract fans by showing it and spoiling the refuge from football that regular patrons hoped for. Volume goes up on otherwise chilled cafes and pubs as fans descend on them, turning regulars away. 

Worse of all is the antisocial behaviour that football more than other sports brings.

It is so unfair on the quieter fans that the big mouths and unruly spoil the reputation of football for all. Trains are full of thugs littering carriages with beer cans and showing they have no idea how to behave as adults, shouting and wandering about, illegally smoking on trains and getting into fights.

 Why do we accept this? Does any other interest generate such hooliganism?

 There must be a way to accommodate football supporters that both allows them freedom to enjoy their matches in safety without allowing the excesses of oafish antisocial behaviour or making the rest of the city come to a stand still.

 Here are my suggestions for Norwich:

 The Carrow Road area is a weak point of the city’s inner link road and needs to be properly completed. I suggest driving a second bridge near Carrow works/priory (or Trowse bridge) to link with Thorpe Road; or straight across from Morrison’s to where the post office now stands, which will be moving. This means that traffic can move in that corner of the city without going past the football ground and so shutting that road isn’t a problem. I think the current Carrow Rd/Canary way should never have been built and that area should be an open space for fans to spill out on to, preferably with another car park there and not on Lower Clarence Road.

If that sounds too much – the other option is move the ground. It was built far too close to the centre, after the railway and businesses and homes began spreading in that direction and has been lucky to avoid a move. Football clubs are rich and so should be prepared to use their money on balancing their needs with the community around them. the advantage of having it central is purely for the club and fans: that it benefits the city is a much spouted fallacy.

 Local residents should all get match fixtures for the season through their doors and an opportunity to discuss issues with the police/council/ football managers. No residents’ views were sought about the road closure and nor we they given fixture listings. the ones really near ought to be offered season tickets as their lives and homes are rules by football. I think residents may be happy to avoid just before and after the matches in their cars but not to have access to their homes affected for a whole afternoon (or evening) and there should be a resident priority on foot and vehicles at all times.

 The roar of uncouth shouts could be transformed into melodious singing. I was struck by how much nicer Welsh rugby sounds and perhaps footballers could learn from our Cymru cousins about musicality. A challenge for a reality TV musical director!?

 I would like to see a campaign start for anti hooliganism; that excessive drinking and loutishness is no longer considered acceptable and that it’s letting down fellow fans, your team and your city. And the name of the very game itself.

 I was amazed to hear how few transport police there are for smaller cities – often half a dozen per county (Norfolk has 5). By the time they are alerted to an incident, it is too late and they have to ride to the nearest station. So if there’s trouble in Thetford, by the time the train gets to Wymondham, the fight will have reached its worst. The transport police need better resources and to not be so country and city specific: as a passenger and possible victim, I’m not interested in whether Peterborough or Nottingham or Norwich police are coming or whose jurisdiction it is; I’m on a train with trouble and I need someone to stop it. Football time trains – especially late at night – should always have police riding on them and a rail staff presence. It shouldn’t wait for ‘intelligence’ that there’s  problem – there’s a match every week in season and most routes will be affected by fans. They should not be allowed to take on board large amounts of drink and be stopped from consuming it.

Although many hate football, I hope many of us would be willing to show the same spirit of consideration and working together we seek from the football club – who has so far failed in this respect.


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