Date: 10th October 2006 at 2:45pm
Written by:

When Roy Keane uttered his now famous rant about Old Trafford`s ‘prawn sandwich brigade` he unwittingly added a new socio-economic grouping to football supporters vocabulary. The shellfish afficionados are now considered an integral part of the supporter base of most of the top clubs.

The advent of Ashburton Grove has brought to a head the conflicting interests of Arsenal watchers. On the one hand are those who still wish to give full voice to their support of the club, and all of the standing up (and occasional expletives!) that involves. On the other are the ‘new breed` as they are sometimes called, less vociferous, less raucous, but arguably (and critically as far as the club are concerned) perceived as more affluent.

It`s difficult to take a subjective view of the differences that are felt between the opposing factions. Even more difficult to explain to the outsider how supporters of the same club could be at odds with each other without going into a sociological debate that would not hold the interest of many for long. Therein perhaps lies the rub. Neither side wants to understand the other.

This conflict is perhaps more pronounced at the Grove simply because of the new stadium. At Highbury, as at all established grounds, everybody knew roughly which areas would house the singers, and which would be quieter. At Arsenal`s impressive new home the various groups have been spread around the arena, largely by Arsenal`s piecemeal release of season tickets, and the clubs reluctance to allow a large area to be ‘taken over` in the way that perhaps the Clock End and North Bank were ‘colonised` in the past.

The club is nervous of elements of its support, to the extent that it actively refuses to take all of the ticket allocation offered for high profile away fixtures. The feeling amongst the ‘old school` support is that by dividing their massed presence in the ground, by increasing admission prices, and trying to enforce strict regulations inside the stadium, they will eventually replace the less desirable elements with the ‘new breed`. It`s a fine line the club is attempting to tread, well aware that the newcomers could well evaporate if success on the pitch is not maintained.

Clearly Arsenal could resolve many of the issues, but is the will there to do that? It is noticeable that stewards at Ashburton have been ordered to clamp down on standing by home supporters, whilst showing complete disregard to away supporters doing exactly the same thing. The club could attempt to assist groups of like-minded supporters to congregate together next season and thereby ease the pressure on their stewarding. There is no doubt that at Highbury, and other established venues around the country, co-existence between, lets face it, supporters of the same club has been facilitated.

I hope and trust the club will devote some time towards resolving these issues soon, and find a way of accommodating those who have a long-standing affiliation to Arsenal, with the new fans who must play a part in the club`s future. Dare I suggest they have sixty-thousand options before them.

Article submitted by Guest writer, GoonerHolic of (Click the link)

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10 Replies to “The Grove`s Prawn Sandwich Debate”

  • I think it is inevitable at every club that they have a prawn sandwich brigade , they bring a lot of money into the club though so are needed i think

  • this makes a lot of sense, we should send this article to and maybe they’ll atleast take this into consideration..

  • I wonder what would happen if the singers and the noise makers (like me) were given a season ticket for club level. How many of us would make it back out in time for the second half when free beer is the order of the day….hell I don’t think I’d even be able to find my seat!!

  • The Emirates Stadium is the first ground in the country to be built specifically for the prawn sandwich brigade. I go into this in more detail in my forthcoming book – Prawns in the Game: how football got where it is today!

  • problem is we are now pretty much set in concrete where we are. the club wont sanction large scale season ticket move of seats come next year. so we have a situation where quiet rich new fans are with hardcore loud long term fans. The quiet fans are going to just have to put up with the odd swear word. as for hardcore fans in club level section, I bet you’d get chucked out before half time!

  • I actually like the way the noise in the ground circulates, I have no problem singing sitting down or without by neighbours singing. I have generally sat in block 99 and there are plenty of singers around. The first three games were so poor football wise there was no atmosphere the last few it’s getting better. As for standing up and smoking both are banned nationally for H&S reasons see Man Utd forums for their complaints on the issue. People should shut up and get on with creating their own atmosphere.

  • I always felt the red section would make a big difference. As an ex Clock Ender, I moved into the red section for Carling Cup games, and the atmos v Reading and Wigan was different class. The other great thing is that clock enders and north bankers are all essentially ensconsed into the same area, meaning the atmos ids concentrated in one area- but hell it’s a start. As for the club, well I don’t expect any football ground in England to sell out in thirty years, teenagers can’t afford to go anymore, so we’re bringing up a generation with no interest in live footie. In the long term the bottom is about to fall out of footie in a big way, and the likes of Dein and Martin Edwards are very much to blame.

  • Oh and vivb is correct, I sit in the east upper now (and sneak into club level after the game, they leave the doors completely unguarded) where noone sings, but it doesn’t stop me. I really couldn’t care less if people join in or not.

  • Well done Mr Dutch,the voice of reason! UK Football is on a long ride to finacial ruin,the atmosphere is dead at most grounds,fantical fans (ie singin,standin) are hated,Chelski ! (buyin anyoneany title) Big business,SKY (SCUM) Clubs are over spendin,which brings me to the point of Arsenal.Now,as a spurs fan,of course i hate the goons.The thought of your incredible debt must me worring surely ! BUT ! Even i would not feel easy,seeing a English club goin under.(well maybe!)

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