To attend a match in that time was not the sanitised theme park that many Premier League clubs now aspire to. Fans who chose the terraces sometimes had to be prepared to stand for hours before games so as to make sure they got in. Access to toilet facilities were limited on big-match days, giving rise to many a story about fans feeling the warm, wet and deeply unpleasant sensation of being urinated on. When goals were scored or in other moments of high excitement, fans found themselves catapulted forward and back, up and down, steep and often decaying terraces. You would rarely end a match where you started to watch it. Take a look at videos of games from the era and view the swelling sea of humanity as a goal goes in. You don’t get that at the Emirates for your £65. It looked dangerous. It felt dangerous. It eventually proved deadly.
Another facet of the era was the fencing in of supporters. Hooliganism’s growth in the early 1970s had led clubs to construct high and forbidding fences, caging fans in to prevent them from storming the pitch. As a result, fans were often given a poor view of the games, having to watch the action through tiny grids of metal. Should an emergency occur, they were penned in to face their fate as panic set in.
Today, of course, is the 20th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, a dark day in the history of British football when 96 Liverpool supporters were crushed to death in Sheffield.