Posted by sean on April 17, 2011 at 4:53 pm in Bath City with No Comments

When Bath City won promotion to the National Conference in May last year, I knew things would be different to previous seasons. I was aware we would face some long journeys, the games would be tougher and financially more expensive. I also expected the stewarding and policing of matches to be different to anything we had experienced when visiting the likes of St Albans and Bishop’s Stortford.

Stewards aren’t well liked by football fans. They are the traffic wardens of the sporting world. Still, I accept they have a job to do and without the presence of crowd control, there wouldn’t be any music festivals, concerts or indeed football games.

I think at times, stewards can earn an unfair reputation and are often accused of a strict and heavy handed policing towards football fans. I don’t think the situation is generally that bad at all.

However, there are certain times when cases of stewarding are so poor it gives the whole industry a bad name. This was the case on Thursday night when I visited Field Mill, home of Mansfield Town, to watch Bath City.

As the official supporters coach arrived at the ground, we were met by a surly-faced employee who told us we were not allowed to stop the coach in the huge, virtually empty car park. Instead drive through the side streets – far away from the club house, ticket office and shop – such a nice welcome to the fans that had travelled over 150 miles in the middle of the week!

The club’s excuse for this was that they did not want home and away fans mixing together. That would be fair enough, apart from the fact hundreds of Mansfield fans had to walk past the spot our coach was eventually instructed to park anyway.

When we got into the ground, the stewards treated us as if we were Millwall supporters. 59 Bath City fans were ‘crammed’ into a stand capable of holding in excess of 1,000 people. However, we were told we were no allowed to stand up while watching the game, due to safety regulations. After a long debate with some supporters, it was agreed we could stand during “exciting moments”, to which one fan rightly pointed out “It’s always exciting watching Bath City”.

While this was going on, a large number of home supporters were happily standing on their side of the ground; the stewards oblivious to the heinous crime. Either that or they chose not to do anything.

The best was yet to come though. Midway through the first half, a steward climbed the stairs to where the fans were sat down like good boys and girls (nothing “exciting” was happening, after all). Without warning, he started to take down one of the supporters’ flags. This was of course questioned – well, I believe the questioning from one supporter was “What the f**k are you doing, you c**t?”

The flag, which in the past has been acclaimed by many opposition fans, bares the words “Terraces not armchairs” – stating the fact that real football fans watch the sport live and not from their front room. Apparently, this very offensive slogan encourages standing and had to be taken down at once.

As this was happening, we noticed the stewards spoiling the home fans’ evening, asking them to sit down and even ejecting some from the ground.

I know there are some exceptions, but generally, football fans are well behaved people. However, if there is to be any trouble, it will occur if they’re treated like animals – in the same way any group of human beings would react if mistreated and bullied.

Luckily there was nothing unsavoury from either set of supporters, despite having to contend with a set of moronic stewards better suited to a Nazi army than a sporting event.

Oh, and Bath City lost 2-0.

The wording of this flag may offend

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