‘It was lucky that we didn’t score at that time because there would of been a serious accident without a shadow of a doubt.’
At the Away Supporter Group Meeting last night that MOMS was present at, we had a good open discussion of various away supporters issues in the past month or so. From the exploits of Southern Rail at the Brighton game, to upcoming ticket allocations and prices. The minutes of the meeting will be published later today. One issue that obviously came to the fore was the congestion and problems at the Leeds United game that Villa supporters encountered at the weekend.
Plenty of Villa supporters got in touch with MOMS to tell the story of their experiences at Elland Road and the club are fully aware where the issues have stemmed from.
It is hoped that some of the experiences detailed below of the stewarding and the local policing at the ground will be learnt from, because Leeds United blatantly put visiting supporters at serious risk with their poor organisation and poorly trained external agency stewards.
It is understood that Villa supporters are not to blame and that any supporter arrests were directly derived from the frustrations of the night.
MOMS doesn’t want to mention the ‘H’ word here but when you hear about Villa fans being carried along in a crush, with their feet lifted off the floor, supporters were lucky not to suffer serious injuries at the game.
Several Villa fans have gone to the trouble of writing to complain to Leeds and if you are there, you are encouraged to also do so. Send your complaints and accounts of what happen to the Leeds Supporter Liaison Officer Fiona Hanley.
Fiona Hanley – firstname.lastname@example.org
Also you can send details of your experiences to Amanda Jacks at the Football Supporters Federations – email@example.com
At the very least, we can get Leeds to review their stewarding and policing arrangements for the future and this will never happen again.
Supporter Witness Statements
Fan Account 1 – Frightening Events & Villa Fans Not to Blame
‘I was there on Saturday right in the middle of the chaos and that what it was. It was actually pretty frightening and felt like something serious was about to happen, and it was all down to stewards not having a clue on where to send people.
The head steward’s answer was to make people get in any available isle wether or not that seat was taken or not. My isle JJ has two people to a seat, all stood in and cramped, it was lucky that we didn’t score at that time because there would of been a serious accident without a shadow of a doubt.
The police answer was to eject fans from the ground! Entering the stadium was a joke one turnstile open and a pat down search on every fan going through the turnstile which caused massive delays in fans getting into the ground for kick off.
This needs highlighting with both clubs , I’ve put a complaint to the police, Leeds United and AVFC and not one has replied as yet. One thing is for certain Villa fans we’re not to be blamed.’ – Kev
There were definitely points trying to make my way down the stairs where the heaving forwards took me down multiple steps at a time without MY FEET TOUCHING THE STEPS.
Fan Account 2 -Clueless Stewards
‘Stewards totally inept inside & outside the ground. It was my first time at Elland Road, I was at the Billy Bremner statue & asked two stewards where the away turnstiles were, they didn’t know! A Leeds fan pointed me in the right direction.’ – Marcus
Fan Account 3 -Wrong Steward Direction
‘I had a ticket for the upper tier stewards directed me to the lower section then when I got there, I was told I’d been sent to the wrong area and to go back. Total bulls up.’ – Anton
Fan Account 4 – Villa Fans Physically Trapped
‘We arrived at ground about 5.15. Big queue outside. When we got in it was chaos. Stewards sent us the wrong way so we had to come back. Loads of people going up some stairs to get to seats. No control by stewards. Pushing and shoving.
I’m only small and so is my sister. We both were getting squashed. When we got to top of the steps, we couldn’t go down to our seat as aisles were packed with people. Loads of fans behind us shoving to get in, as by this time the game had started. Couldn’t go forward. Couldn’t go backwards.
I told stewards they needed to sort it but they said they couldn’t. Eventually managed to get to our seats in 7th row from front. But chaos still reigned where we had come from. Never experienced anything like that before. Scary.’ – Bernie
Fan Account 5 – Crushed. Worst Away experience in 10 Years
I was in the crush and I have been told I am in the video that is being circulated around. I didn’t get to my seat until the second half. The stewards couldn’t tell me where my seat was and seemed unfamiliar with that area of the stadium. I was told to go to the front causing even more problems . In my opinion there seemed to be a lot more people than seats and shocking organisation by Leeds. Worst situation I have seen in the 10 years I have been going away from home and it could of been a lot worse. – Callum
Fan Account 6 – Feet Left Ground in Crowd Surge
I have already made a complaint to Leeds United football club and hope they will investigate in due course what happened, as some people rightly said, there could have been people hurt. I arrived around half an hour before kick off during which there was a large snaking queue for, I think it was four turnstiles, which didn’t seem like enough in the first place.
I asked stewards multiple times once inside the concourse where the exit to my seats were, before actually being given a definitive answer. A large amount of Villa fans did seem to head towards the lower tier at once and I do believe many possibly weren’t even in the area however there were no stewards available at the vomitory entrance to the lower tier so everyone just carried on, once out on the stairway things began to get very cramped indeed.
I have been on a terrace at non league game in the middle of a crush and admitted while it wasn’t as bad as this, it was still like nothing I’ve ever experienced following the Villa away and did seem like a scene out of the 80’s.
I was with two girls and the safest option at the time was to push towards the front and get them out of what seemed like a developing crush. As it is, I am fortunate in having young looks and a loud voice and I was able to get larger men than myself to help make gaps in the ‘crush’ by pushing other people to get the girls through and to safety, the worst of the crushing seemed to be on the stairway down to the pitchside in front of the video (above).
It is also my belief that this video only showed the initial crushing developing as by the time I got there it seemed worse than that. Eventually, I managed to force the girls out into a side row of seats where netting had been previously been, only seconds before as Villa fans were trying to make the seats available to alleviate the pressure on the crowd on the stairway.
Stewards did very little help and in fact initially tried to hinder efforts. By the time I was able to get to ‘a’ seat, notice I didn’t say my allocated seat, in an area on the front row which had been covered it was well into the 10th minute of the match. I complained to a steward as at the time I believed the situation further up the stairwell to be deteriorating as the steward in question had a radio.
‘IT WAS ACTUALLY PRETTY FRIGHTENING AND FELT LIKE SOMETHING SERIOUS WAS ABOUT TO HAPPEN.’
To which his response was, it isn’t my problem, and to which I admittedly and deservedly replied amongst some profanities, that that attitude is exactly the attitude according to the documentary I have watched that police had at Hillsborough.
Altogether it was lucky that more serious injuries, unless there are some unreported ones, didn’t occur, there were definitely points trying to make my way down the stairs where the heaving forwards me took me down multiple steps at a time without my feet touching the steps.
Again corroborating what I have said, in the video two police officers on the top right above the vomitory can be see shouting to, and than laughing and turning around or so it appears from the developing crush and stewards that appear in a line marching through must have headed down to pitch side.
In addition, I do believe that Villa fans cannot be blamed for either having been drinking which is as normal when following us away, or for coming into the stand ‘late’ given how large the queue outside was and the seemingly limited entrance flow rate of spectators coming into the away end.’ – Andrew
Fan Account 7 – Villa fans help fan with six-year-old daughter
‘I got to the ground at 5.15 with my six-year-old daughter. Once we got inside the ground we were crammed in a corridor and then into the smallest piece of concourse you could imagine. Why have Leeds got 3000 fans going through such a tight system? My girl was petrified until I picked her up and fair play to the rest of the Villa fans they moved out of the way so we could squeeze by! It was a shambles!’ – David
Fan Account 8 – Poor Signage & Duplicate Tickets
‘Extremely poor signage inside the ground. I had no idea where B2 was and neither did the copper I asked. Also tickets not letting people in, apparently the barcode had already been used so people were sent to the far left of the queues to use another turnstile. Complete mess.’ – Ryan
Fan Account 9 – Stewards not bothered
We were caught up in this. My seat was CC 46 right on the end next to isle. I got to my seat 20 mins b4 kickoff and had a great view of both ends. As kick-off approached swarms of Villa fans came flooding down to the front were the first two rows had been netted off. By the time kick-off came, I spent the next 30 mins arguing with stewards over the safety of this, which at one point they weren’t bothered that people were flocking down the isles.
They eventually took note when fans were getting even closer to the pitch. It took them 15 mins to open up the first two rows and by this time, it was well out of control. I spoke with the deputy safety officer, who i think is employed full-time, his response was “we’ll just learn from it”. Shocking, I thought. So for 37 pound, I spent 35 mins arguing – great day out!’ – Steve
Fan Account 10 – Steward Misdirection
‘I think the stewards were sending villa fans to the wrong sections of the ground. Looks like they sent most of us to the lower part where they were most likely meant to be in upper.. luckily my seat was right next to the staircase ???? I just saw all the pushing and shoving a few was kicked out too.’ – David
Again, if you were at the Leeds game and were not happy with what happened please do write to Leeds United and also send your statement/account to the Football Supporters Federation (FSF) on the email addresses below:
Leeds United: Fiona Hanley – firstname.lastname@example.org
FSF: Amanda Jacks – email@example.com
Follow MOMS on Twitter here – @oldmansaid