[quote_center]’Yes, we will be bring the infamous Villa away following x 15, but we’ll need something more…we need to bring the Holte End to Wembley Stadium’.[/quote_center]
MOMS contributed to an hour conference call discussion with Wembley staff, police, club reps of the four semi-finalists and also other fan representatives from the other three teams, including the Spirit of Shankly of Liverpool. Here’s what info we learnt regarding flags and displays…
I know they say you should take one game at a time in football, but some things need forward planning. Namely putting on a show of Villa strength at Wembley to match what Liverpool fans traditionally bring to such occasions.
MOMS has met and had beers with some of the Liverpool lads from the Spirit of Skankly and Spion Kop 1906 groups over the past couple of years and have a lot of respect for them leading the debate on supporter issues nationally. On the last march to the Premier League offices in London, it was predominately the Villa ‘Against Modern Football’ banners of the Brigada 1874 alongside the Liverpool Spion Kop 1906 banners that provided the focus of the march.
A year on after having post-march beers with them in the traditional pre-Wembley Baker St stop off the Globe Tavern, it’s good that we’ll meet again in London, for the purposes of a proper game. Budding supporter solidarity put on ice.
So how do we tackle the red menace inside the stadium?
We all know what Liverpool fans bring to such occasions in terms of flags, displays and their rousing rendition of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’. It’s a formidable force to tackle. Yes, we will bring the infamous Villa away following x 15, but we’ll need something more…we need to bring the Holte End to Wembley Stadium.
Bring the Holte to Wembley
1. Giant Surfer
The first issue I raised to the Wembley rep was the prospect of bringing down to Wembley the Holte End surfer flag. From my research talking to other club’s fans and staff, Wembley used to charge for such flags, but after the outcry of them charging Bradford fans for a giant surfer Bantam fans had clubbed together for, they have since dropped that charge as the Sunderland Supporter Liaison Officer informed me previously.
Julia Pendry, the Wembley Safety Officer was very positive about the idea of the Villa surfer coming to Wembley and outlined that they would have a dedicated team that manages the unraveling of the flag on the day.
What they did tell us is they class the Holte surfer flag to be too big. It’s 25×25, while their spec is allegedly 20×20.
So, the club are considering whether to create a new flag. MOMS has certainly supported this notion and suggested it could be designed to be re-sized later for use in one of the stands at Villa Park.
2. Mosaic display
Again, Wembley were all good about the prospect of a mosaic display. They actually arrange such displays for the final on their own dime, but it’s up to the respective clubs to plan and cover any expense for the semi-final.
The club do have plans, but are waiting for approval and sign-off.
All we can say is for the sake of a few thousand quid, it’ll be worth it, as the day should be as memorable as possible for supporters, after what they’ve been through in recent seasons (especially at Villa Park). Also, having the flag down and a display, will show we are a proper club, which can only have a positive knock-on effect.
UPDATE (12/04/15): The club trying to arrange an eleventh hour mosaic display using fabric (on our suggestion) to get around the apparently new FA H&S issues. While Wembley officials were very embracing of mosaics, they have failed to inform us that the FA has recently outlawed the use of cardboard, rolled plastic or plastic bags -basically, all the materials normally used to create displays (WBA used cardboard only yesterday to create their tribute to Jeff Astle).
The FA has voiced their objections to these standard mosaic materials very late in the day, so have scuppered the club’s original plans.
Considering the time it took the FA to announce the dates of the semi-final (and only after we pressured them to do so), this is a further disappointment in their management of this game.
Each club at Wembley will get to play one song each. No guesses to what Liverpool will play and sing. The YNWA factor has to be countered and Villa too need a song that will engage supporters to sing.
The only song on the list the club is asking fans to chose from that will prompt singing is ‘Ghost riders in the Sky’ sung by Johnny Cash, that inspired ‘Holte Enders in the Sky’.
[quote_center]Yippeeh aye aaaayyyy yippeeh aye ooohhhh, Holte Enders in the sky.[/quote_center]
We urge you to vote for the song simply for us to all perform the loudest chant of ‘Holte Enders in the Sky’. ever at an ‘away game’. Also, if you know anything about music, it’s pretty darn cool coming out to a Johnny Cash song.
4. Villa Supporter Flags
Do you have a big flag you wanted to take to Wembley? Chances are they won’t let it in the stadium if it’s over the official sizes allowed in:
Flags more than 250cm in size at their widest or longest section will not be allowed and flagpoles greater than 1m in length will not allowed.
However, speaking to Wembley yesterday, if there are any bigger flags that Villa supporters want hanging in Wembley, they encourage us to contact them in advance to make the necessary arrangements.
Drop MOMS an email on firstname.lastname@example.org (subject FLAG), make sure you include the size and description of flag and we’ll take it up with Wembley Stadium.
a) We want to decorate Wembley with as many Villa flags as possible and b) we don’t want Villa fans having their larger flags refused entry on the day.
Below is the full Wembley rules on flags. We’ll update you with more Wembley info as it filters through. In the meantime, make sure you let the club know (via social media etc) that you want the surfer and a display at Wembley, so Villa supporters can make a real mark in the capital. The lion has been asleep too long!
Follow MOMS on Twitter – @oldmansaid
Guidance for use of flags at Wembley Stadium
Wembley Stadium upholds the highest standards of Health and Safety. The following guidance is in line with the stadium’s grounds regulations.
– We know that many supporters like to display flags at football matches and Wembley Stadium will always be as accommodating as possible.
– Flags are not generally confiscated, however the obstruction of gangways, access routes, exits and entrances, health and safety signage and stairways is strictly forbidden.
– In the event of an emergency we must have all access and exit points clear.
– Wembley Stadium reserves the right to confiscate flags if they are very large or may compromise public safety, obscure someone’s view, a camera position or if a flag carries offensive, discriminatory or inflammatory messaging.
– Flags more than 250cm in size at their widest or longest section will not be allowed and flagpoles greater than 1m in length will not allowed.
– Any articles that could potentially be used as a weapon and/or compromise public safety are strictly prohibited.
– Permission must be sought in advance from the stadium and event owner to arrange use of the very large supporter flags that are designed to be passed over people’s heads. In such cases the flag must be flame retardant and the organiser bringing the flag into the stadium will need to provide the appropriate H&S certification.