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The South Stand Movement

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Jake Porritt takes a look at the influence the South Stand has had in the last few months.

Clint Hughes/Getty Images

Since the 1970's Elland Road has had quite the repuation. During the time when hooliganism was at it's peak, a trip up north to West Yorkshire was not something that away fans used to take lightly.

In fact, it wasn't just the visiting supporters that would be in for a hard time, the players themselves knew they were in for a rough ride. Every referee decision going against the home team would be met with a cascade of boos and abuse. Players would walk over to take a corner and try and block out the local supporter's efforts to put them off.

Elland Road had become a fortress where the fans really were the 12th man. It was a place where imitidation was the name of the game and it had become one of the loudest grounds in England.

But times have changed and as with everything else in society, so has football. What was once a sport of the working class it has now morphed into a luxury for business men to entertain guests and for tourists wanting to take in a game of English football.

As the popularity of the Premier League has risen, so too have the price of tickets. This shift in the demographics of football supporters that attend matches has led to a change in the enviroment in which the game is played. The majority of football fans can agree that the atmospheres at English football grounds are not what they used to be, and quite often can be fairly subdued.

Elland Road is of course no different and when you take into consideration the way the club and their fans have been treated by previous owners over the years it really is no surprise that Elland Road has lost it's bite.

In November 2013 it was decided by a small group of fans that a change was needed. Organising themselves through forums and social media, a group of no more than 10 set out to come together and improve the atmosphere. It wasn't so long ago that the Kop was once the beating heart of Elland Road but now, thanks to price hikes in other parts of the ground, the Gelderd end has become over run with families looking for a cheaper alternative to the Family Stand.

Some have even commented on the influx of atmosphere tourists in the stand. Those that want to be surrounded by the vocal support but do not wish to contribute. So, as the South Stand was half empty for the majority of games it was decided that that would be the new focal point for the group's efforts.

It's been just over a year since the inception of the "SS5 movement" but it has already made a colossal impact to the match day experience. What was once a half-empty stand, filled with only those hardcore fanatics that enjoy being in close proximity to the away support, is now the go to stand for those that wish to sing until their hearts content. Ticket sales have risen dramatically in the South Stand so far this season. The stand now sells out for the majority of the club's home game and is always the first out of all four stands to do so.

The Scratching Shed (as it used to be known) was always seen as the Kop's little brother, but now as more and more frustrated Gelderdenders relocate to the South are we seeing a changing of the guard? The group's intention was never to steal the Kop's thunder but to create a stadium with two "singing" ends, and to bring back the famous Elland Road atmosphere from yesteryear.

The group always makes sure to keep the club's heritage in mind and slowly but surely the South is being filled with various flags and banners honouring the club's heros and acheivements. "The real class of '92" and the "earned not bought" banners are some of my favourites.

This has upset some of the older generation leading them to label it all a bit..."tin-pot". But when you see images of Dortmund's Yellow Wall you can not help but stand back and watch in awe. The sheer level of noise they create along with a see of colour is incredible to see. Would it be such a bad thing to see a similar thing at Elland Road?

Lets be honest, being a Leeds fan is no easy thing. With constant turmoil on and off the pitch the media is never shy to make a point of us being a circus of a club. But our support as always been something us Leeds fans can be proud of and thanks to the rejuvination of the South Stand and the atmosphere at Elland Road, it's now fun to go to games again, just ask the crowd surfers I saw at the Fulham game.


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