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Fan Letters: “Tougher stewarding is needed at the Stadium of Light”

Thoughts on fan behaviour in the south stand, refereeing assessments, and the issue of early exits from the Stadium of Light are in the RR mailbox today! Got something to say? Email us:

Sunderland v Wigan Athletic - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

After reading the letter you published from Steve in Washington, I’d like to pick up on some of his points.

Firstly, I agree with his comments regarding fans throwing bottles onto the pitch and towards opposing players.

This behaviour should be dealt with quickly by the stewards and cameras, identifying culprits and ejecting them from the stadium, followed by a lengthy ban from all football grounds.

I’m also sickened by the behaviour of our home fans in the South Stand concourse, especially at half time when they decide to throw full pints of beer and other drinks in the air, soaking fans who are wanting to use the facilities or buy food and drink.

In relation to smoking or vaping inside the ground, we’re one of the few clubs who don’t open the exits at half time. I’ve been to many away grounds where one door is opened to allow fans to smoke and vape at the interval.

I agree that smoking in the toilets is a big issue and when you go into the toilet, it’s hard to breathe and see due to the smoke.

Fans who smoke or vape should be catered for and the club should realise that it’s an addiction, otherwise it’ll continue in the toilets.

As a supporter for over fifty years and a season card holder for more than thirty, it’s my right to leave the stadium when we’re playing poorly and being thumped by the opposition.

I accept there’ll be good and bad times and I’ve seen many at Roker Park and the Stadium of Light. However, if I wish to leave early, I have the right to do so.

Steve, stop moaning and accept some fans will not stay to the end. There are more important things in life to worry about!

Colin (South Stand season card holder)

Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Colin. Thanks for your letter.

As I sit in the NW Corner, I’ve never experienced the kind of incidents you describe that take place in the south stand, but it sounds like a thoroughly unpleasant experience and as you rightly say, the stewards and the CCTV operators need to ensure that supporters aren’t making things unenjoyable for their fellow fans.

It all links back to making the Stadium of Light a welcoming place to experience a match, and not somewhere that you’d be afraid to take your kids for fear of falling victim to the misbehaviour of others.

On the issue of leaving early, I don’t think anyone would disagree that every supporter has the right to decide when they leave. Some decide to make an early exit and some stay until the very end.

‘Pay your money and take your choice’ is very much the mantra here, and that’s the way it should be, even if other supporters disagree with it.

Sunderland v Hull City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Going back to Saturday’s refereeing display, does anyone know if EFL clubs still give marks to the referee?

Are they promoted or demoted due to the marks awarded by clubs during the season, or is it now just done by assessors?

Bjorn Shigg

Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Bjorn. Thanks for getting in touch.

I’m unsure if clubs are still grading officials for their performances but if they are, I suspect we would’ve given Jarred Gillett a ranking of -100,000 (rounded down to the nearest hundred, of course) for his performance on Saturday.

If he was being assessed externally, I fail to see how they could’ve graded him any higher, because his performance was one of the worst I’ve seen in over twenty years at the Stadium of Light.

Sunderland v Middlesbrough - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Robert Smith/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

In response to concerns about empty seats during the second half vs Middlesbrough, this is a criticism I’ve often seen levelled at Sunderland over the years.

A key point that needs to be remembered is where our fans live. After all, we aren’t a central London team with a nice easy five minute walk or Tube ride to everyone’s front door.

The majority of the supporters inside the stadium will be driving in from across County Durham and beyond. The transport in our region is an absolute joke, so driving is the only way to do it.

When I was living in Stanley, we would always leave before the final whistle as it was the only way to dodge the worst of the traffic and be home in under an hour.

I do think that on average, Sunderland supporters will have to make one of the biggest time commitments in the country, and who can blame them for missing twenty minutes of awful football to gain an hour of their weekend not spent sitting in a car?

Craig Tallentire

Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Craig. Thanks for your letter.

Being from Durham, I drive to the majority of Sunderland’s home games and there have been countless times, particularly after night games, when I’ve arrived home at 11:00- 11:30pm after being caught in heavy traffic on the way out of the city.

Sometimes it’s a little bit easier and the drive down the A690 is stress free, but other times, it’s bumper to bumper with nobody giving an inch.

Personally, I don’t mind the journey (it often gives me a chance to calm down if I’ve watched a particularly bad performance) but for fans who live even further afield, it’s easy to understand why they’d want to be out of Sunderland before the traffic gets ridiculously heavy after a game.

Local buses can be patchy and the Metro services are often as consistent as a Jarred Gillet refereeing display, so it’s all in the timing when choosing exactly when to leave the stadium and whether you’re caught in the jams that often clog up the main roads through the city.

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