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Football match with children?

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South Jordan, Utah
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Football match with children?

I'll be in London in March and would like to take in a football match with my wife and two children.

A couple of questions:

1. Considering the atmosphere at the matches (level of hooliganism, coarse language, consumption of alcohol, etc...), would it be a bad idea to take children to a match?

2. If I decide to, what expectations should I have regarding the aforementioned regarding the atmosphere?

3. To what degree does the club or match-up play a role? For example, I was thinking that a Fulham match might be a little more sane and quiet than, say, a Chelsea match (with all due respect to Fulham, but Chelsea leads the tables). Is that fair assumption?

Nanaimo, Canada
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for Nanaimo, Vancouver Island
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1. Re: Football match with children?

Over the past couple of decades I've been to a half dozen Premiership matches and the atmosphere in stadiums now if VERY subdued compared to years gone by. Last year we have took our 10 year old to an Arsenal match at Emirates Stadium and there were absolutely no problems. I believe we were in the family section. It was fantastic, plus Arsenal won! Beer is available but there were no hooligans or lager louts. There are seats for all guests and the days of terraces are over. I would wholeheartedly recommend you go. Pick the best match up you can find and try to get those tickets. The singing and rivalries are great.

The crowds were more raucous and intoxicated at a LA Galaxy vs. Chicago Fire match last year!

TALF experts will give you more advice but in our experiences it was one of the highlights of our trip!

Enjoy the match!

South Jordan, Utah
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2. Re: Football match with children?

Great news. Thanks for the advice.

London, United...
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3. Re: Football match with children?

By law, it is not allowed to consume alcohol in the stands. The ruling classes obviously believe that holdihng a pint while in sight of the turf will induce a frenzy in the working class - contrast with cricket where all day drinking is essential to make tolerable the tedium of five-day match with no result at the end. (I've seen worse behaviour from drunken supporters at Lords than I ever have at a football ground).

Many (probably most, in the Premiership) grounds have family enclosures where the rugrats can be kept from bothering supporters.

East Midlands
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4. Re: Football match with children?

<<1. Considering the atmosphere at the matches (level of hooliganism, coarse language, consumption of alcohol, etc...), would it be a bad idea to take children to a match? >>

No, it's a great idea, kids (who like football) will love a live game. There is very little chance of you witnessing hooligan type behaviour in the ground, swearing and coarse language is often very, very funny at football matches. Alcohol is served in the concourses of the stands but you are not allowed to comsume alcohol within sight of the pitch (something to do with grass and beer not mixing ... apparently if you spill the beer on the grass it comes up half cut .... boom, boom!!)

<<2. If I decide to, what expectations should I have regarding the aforementioned regarding the atmosphere?>>

Expect to enjoy the day (all of it, not just the match). Get there early, have a walk round the ground, get a hot dog or a pie, visit the club shop, see if you can see the players arriving and get their autographs. Boo the coach when the visiting team turns up. Get in the ground about 30 mins before kick off, put a bet on, buy a programme.

<<3. To what degree does the club or match-up play a role? For example, I was thinking that a Fulham match might be a little more sane and quiet than, say, a Chelsea match (with all due respect to Fulham, but Chelsea leads the tables). Is that fair assumption?>>

The opponents (or rather their supporters) will play a role in helping the atmosphere more than League position. If Arsenal and Spurs were the bottom two clubs in the league, the atmosphere at that game would be ten times better than if either of them were playing someone else in a "top vs bottom" scenario.

Edited: 06 January 2010, 08:59
East Sussex, United...
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5. Re: Football match with children?

Geez.

A lot of 'true' supporters have been driven away from the game in recent years by a combination of high ticket prices, souless and sanitised stadiums, lack of atmosphere etc. Go on any major clubs fan websites these days and you will hear the same things said over and over....the stadiums are full of of ' tourists ' and ' jcl's' ( johnny come latelys ) aka ' gloryhunters '.

Im not being disrespectful to you in any way, thats just how many local fans view the situation. By all means go to a match, just dont expect much in the way of excitement or atmosphere. Do expect to pay high prices ( if you can even get a ticket ) and poor catering standards. You and your kids will be fine, assuming you havent led too sheltered a life.

London
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6. Re: Football match with children?

The OP raises some genuine questions, here's my take;

1. Considering the atmosphere at the matches (level of hooliganism, coarse language, consumption of alcohol, etc...), would it be a bad idea to take children to a match?

No, absolutely not. You see a lot of kids at football, and they love the colour, spectacle an occasion of a big game. Really young children may find it a bit overwhelming, and especially if they don't really understand the rules. I took my eldest to his first game at Chelsea aged 7, it was a freezing, rainy day in February and he wanted to go hame at half time! I blame it on the fact we were playing Middlesbrough....

2. If I decide to, what expectations should I have regarding the aforementioned regarding the atmosphere?

There is no denying, in a crowd of 40,000, a large proportion will have had a beer or two, and the language can get colourful. If you don't hear at least one 'F' word I would be surprised. You have to make a judgement on that one. As for actual physical violence and 'hooliganism', this is really overhyped. Games are very well policed, and you are highly unlikely to see any trouble inside the ground.

3. To what degree does the club or match-up play a role? For example, I was thinking that a Fulham match might be a little more sane and quiet than, say, a Chelsea match (with all due respect to Fulham, but Chelsea leads the tables). Is that fair assumption?

Not any more. Fulham pride themselves on being a family club, but things are very civilised at Chelsea these days. In fact we get a lot of stick from rival fans on how quiet it is at the Bridge. Tickets are hard to come by, and my major gripe with Chelsea is that it is very difficult to get concessionary priced tickets for kids, unless they are Junior Club members. On that issue alone you may be better off with Fulham.

London, United...
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7. Re: Football match with children?

> If you don't hear at least one 'F' word I would be surprised.<

As with driving, I think it's near impossible to watch a match without using the C word, too.

UK
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8. Re: Football match with children?

Chad, how old are the children? I ask because I've seen people with 2 and 3 year olds on their lap, which strikes me as crazy, and maybe a 5 year old would be bored after 20 minutes, while a 10-12 year old might love it.

Violence very unlikely, bad language, very likely, a friend of mine, when he started taking his kids, made them aware of a rule similar to the Las Vegas "what happens in Vegas etc.." rule , eg "what language you hear, stays on the terraces". If language is likely to be a problem for you , you'll have to stay away, otherwise if they are the right age, go for it, though be prepared for a shock when you look at the cost of 4 tickets :-)

Fulham is teh usual advice here for premiership games, but whats available depends on the exact dates you will be here.

Newcastle, Australia
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9. Re: Football match with children?

Fulham would be a great option. The Club also conduct stadium tours - dates for March are 14th and 27th. Fulham home games for March are Stoke (6th March) - should be easy to get tickets and go on general sale 26th January. Other game is Manchester City (20th March) - might be more popular due recent purchase of 'star' players. Just check their website for all details.

London
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10. Re: Football match with children?

You’re extremely, extremely unlikely to see any fighting at the football, but I’d imagine you’ll hear a fair bit of ‘industrial’ language wherever you go, I’m afraid. As others have said, as kids many of us were brought up with a policy of pretending it wasn’t really happening; my Dad wouldn’t react to it, we wouldn’t comment on it, and we’d all just pretend that the whole ground wasn’t really calling the referee a ****** or whatever abuse was being dished-out. Collective denial on the part of our family unit, which worked effectively until a friend would ask my Dad what certain words meant, at which point my Dad would babble on about stupid people with limited vocabularies. In terms of the crowd – some kids are overawed, and find adults getting so wound-up about things a bit unsettling, but the vast majority seem to spend the whole game watching the crowd rather than the game – I guess it is pretty fascinating to see how a crowd reacts when you’re that age – in fact, when I watch matches in other countries, I probably spend 80% of the time watching the crowd rather than the game.

I’ve taken quite a few overseas friends and colleagues to games in England, and whilst we might find modern grounds overwhelmingly sedate and sterile affairs, those that aren’t from countries with a deeply-embedded football culture still seem to think the atmosphere at games is electric – even at Fulham (which it is maybe 2-3 times a season). Chelsea, by the way, are hardly noted for atmosphere these days.

With kids, it really does depend on the individual child. My friends (thoughtfully) seem to have season-tickets for their kids whether they show any interest in football or not, so you have some of them who live and breathe football, and absorb every moment of every match, whilst others will sit there reading a book or playing with a psp. Depending on the age, I’d suggest taking along some snacks, and something to distract them in the event of boredom. That way you get to enjoy the match, even if they’re not fussed by the whole event.

I wouldn’t hesitate to take your kids to a match – even if the game’s not up to much, it’ll be a great experience for them, and there’s virtually zero chance of them seeing any trouble. I’d also take them to a kid-friendly pub before the game for some lunch – watch the atmosphere build-up – that seems to be some kid’s favourite part of the day. Going to the pub for a couple of pre-match drinks with friends and family is a key part of the day for many fans, and whilst many home fans will have had a few pints, it’s rare that you find home fans hammered before/during a game…whereas for many travelling away with your team means drinking on the train, arriving in town at opening-time for the pubs, and then being in a bit of a pickle come kick-off…

If you’re looking for a friendly, accommodating club – Fulham. The oldest club in London, no major trophies in 130 years of trying, consistently recognised as the friendliest place to go for away fans, Clint Dempsey of the US National Team, and most importantly, a beautiful old ground in a lovely location. The tickets are more reasonably priced tickets that at many other London clubs, and you won’t have a problem getting concessionary tickets for your children. If you go with Fulham, then I’d take seats somewhere towards the back of the Hammersmith End.

Wherever you end-up: enjoy the game.