With everything going on around the club our very own Joe Glover took the time to talk about one of the positives to come out of this season at LS11. The rejuvenation of the Elland Road South Stand….
I wasn’t familiar with the South Stand SS5 (@SouthStandSS5) Twitter page until recently, but I contacted the account holder and asked him a couple of questions about their aims. Only an active group since this season, they are looking to build a better match day experience for all of the supporters. If what they have already achieved can be replicated at the same rate in the seasons to come, ER will have one hell of a match day makeover.
Who are you and why did you decide to set up the twitter account?
My name is JT and I decided to setup the twitter account after some discussions with other fans following a very poor atmosphere against Yeovil earlier this season. We discussed how it could be improved and the thing we realised was that there were plenty of us who were up for it but we were spread around all over the stand, so the idea was simply to get all of us stood together and to build it from there.
It was the encouragement from older fans that gave me the motivation to run with the idea though and to try to make it work. Many of them told me that in the old days you could just find where the noise was coming from in the terrace and go stand there. These days it just takes a bit of organisation but the principle is the same.
Last year somebody did something similar in SS4 but he just stopped updating it all of a sudden. I tried to get everyone in seats next to each other and arranged for pre match meet ups so we could get to know each other and discuss ideas. I was surprised how many turned out for the first one and it has grown really fast since then.
To me the most important thing is that going to football games is meant to be fun. Too many people seemed discouraged by our home support and only went to away games or only attended home games every now and then. So we try and bring the away style of support to every home game.
What are you trying to achieve in the long and short term?
In the short term we just want to keep attracting more like minded people into SS5 and the surrounding sections. I have to admit I’ve been surprised at how popular its become in such a short period of time and we get great feedback from people all the time on the atmosphere we are creating.
In addition we really like visual aspect of support so are trying to get more scarves, flags and banners in the stands too. We always try to keep Leeds traditions in mind with everything we do and I think that’s very important. One of the best aspects of SS5 is the wide range of ages we have in there and all are just having fun and giving everything for 90 minutes to support the team.
Also, longer term it would be great to have some dialogue with the club. We seem to attract a lot of unjustified attention from the stewards and a few of our core ‘members’ have had very harsh bans. I’ve tried to get the message to the club about what we are trying to achieve but with so much turmoil in the boardroom its not been easy. Thankfully LUST have shown us a lot of support and helped us out when needed. Through them we have made some progress such as allowing flags back in the ground and they have helped overturn a couple of bans I mentioned.
Have you always sat in the south stand?
No not always, but for the last few years I have. I tried loads of different sections all round the ground and have found it hard to find one with consistently great support in recent times. It made sense for us to do this in the South Stand as there weren’t so many season ticket holders in there so we could get lots of seats booked together and there were a few of us already in there from the SS4 movement. A lot of people are very loyal to the Kop which I fully understand; in fact its good as the best scenario for everyone is to have both these stands as loud as possible.
What is different about the south stand now compared to recent years?
I guess the main differences would be where the away fans sit and also its only fairly recently that season tickets were available in the South Stand. To me I don’t care that much about the interaction with the away fans, as long as we drown them out! But I know some fans really enjoy this aspect of it. Also, the stewards have become a bit more relaxed in the last couple of years about standing all game, which for us is of course crucial.
Are you behind the safe standing campaign?
My last point leads into this nicely, yes we are definitely 100% behind it. I think English football in general badly needs safe standing to revitalise support. I feel it’s starting to get a lot of attention and won’t be too long before it is launched in this country. I would love to see a safe standing section in both the Kop and the South Stand.
Do you have a message for other Leeds fans?
If you read this and you’re not convinced then that is fine, it’s not for everyone and we do want noise to come from all areas of the ground. But I mentioned Leeds traditions earlier and at the very least we would really appreciate if as many people as possible could join us in trying to slow WACCOE back down to normal speed and bring back ‘na na na na’ rather than clapping during Marching on Together!
Any comments or suggestions please e-mail us or contact us on twitter @SouthStandSS5
Safe Standing would be ideal for us, increasing the attendance and lowering the price tickets would be the ultimate, but I can only imagine we will see it at Leeds much later than we would want. For too long home games have been dull and whilst I’m not saying the chanting and away game atmosphere is for everyone if we could get all the stands active we can at least create some amusement for ourselves or maybe even spur on the team to be better.