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A terrace or terracing in sporting terms refers to the traditional standing area of a sports stadium, particularly in the United Kingdommarker and Irelandmarker. A terrace is a series of concrete steps which are erected for spectators to stand on.

Its significance carries particular importance in football where terraces were located in the areas behind the two goals as a cheaper alternative to sitting in the stands, which were traditionally located at the sides of the field. Naturally the price of standing in the terraces was much cheaper than a seat with the result that over the decades they became the most popular spectator's area for younger working class men and teenage boys to watch the game.

There is currently a growing demand for a reintroduction of terracing, based on the modern stadia designs in Germany and other European countries, dubbed "safe-standing" areas.

History



In the early days of the twentieth century the terraces were simply earth banks, often built up with the rubble of construction sites. Rows of railways sleeper were laid on top to provide something solid for spectators to stand on.

Most stadiums in Britain at the turn of the century had bleachers for spectators, but when a wooden bleacher style terrace at Ibrox Parkmarker collapsed in the 1902 Ibrox disaster killing many spectators during a Scotland versus England game there was an instant ban on framework supported terraces, which the government ordered must be replaced by solid earthwork supported terracing.

The earth and sleeper terraces would gradually make way for concrete terraces with metal crush barriers being erected at various points to prevent crushing. An excellent example of one such old style terrace can be found at Cathkin Parkmarker in Glasgowmarker, an abandoned football stadium, which was home to Third Lanark.

In Irelandmarker terrace are still a common feature in Gaelic games, Football, Rugby Union and other stadiums. Terraces in Ireland were not subject to the violence, crowd segregation or the Taylor Report as British terraces were and so terraces remained a common feature in Irish stadiums. Hill 16 is one of the most notable terraces in Ireland.

Popularity



The terraces were hugely popular, particularly from the 1920s to the 1980s, and their working class links led them to be given affectionate names by the fans who stood on them. By far the most common name was Spion Kop, named after the Battle of Spion Kopmarker in the Boer War in South Africa in 1902 between Britain and the Boers. Arsenal F.C. were the first to adopt such a name but by far the most famous was the Kop at Liverpool F.C.'s Anfield Roadmarker ground. The vast majority of clubs in England and farther afield would go on to regard their most popular end of their stadium as a Kop, even if, in most cases the end had another name, for example the Holte Endmarker at Aston Villa F.C.'s Villa Parkmarker. The most notable exception to this is Everton F.C., whose close rivalry with city neighbours Liverpool has meant that neither the club nor its fans would ever refer to the ground as having a Kop section.

The advantage of terracing over seating for clubs was obvious, as many more fans could be packed in tightly into very cramped areas, and it is no coincidence that many clubs' all-time attendance records were set in the 1930s and 40s.

Safety

Terraces were generally a safe, cheap and enjoyable way to watch sport. But on occasion they could be dangerous too.

In the early days the wet railway sleepers would often lead to falls, which quickly led to their replacement but much worse was to follow when thirty-three people lost their lives in 1946 when the an overcrowded terrace led to a crush at Bolton Wanderers F.C.'s Burnden Parkmarker ground. That such a disaster only occurred once during this era is amazing as the sight of a fainted fan being passed down the terraces over the heads of those packed in so that they could be treated for their ill effects was a common sight.

By the 1970s the lowering cost of travel meant it was easier for fans to have away days, or road trips and a common practice among young visiting fans was to try to "take the terrace". Large bodies of supporters of the visiting team would infiltrate the popular terracing of the home supporters with the result that violence often erupted. This led to crowd segregation at football grounds and also played a small part in the erection of high fencing and segregated pens within most terraces in England.

This became a contributing factor in the Hillsborough disaster, England's worst ever stadium disaster, when too many fans tried to enter the same pens at the Hillsborough stadium in Sheffieldmarker. 96 Liverpool fans were crushed to death in the ensuing chaos.

Although claiming that terraces were not "intrinsically unsafe", the Final Taylor Report into the disaster led to a recommendation that terraces be done away with at major British stadiums. Today all top class stadiums are all seated, although terracing can still be found at lower level stadiums.

Terracing will be introduced to american football with the inclusion of party decks with the ability to hold 35,000 people at cowboys stadium.

References




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