The Holmesdale Fanatics – A View From Block E
Amongst all the transfer ups and downs and the will we lose Wilfried Zaha or not drama over the close season, I did see some snippets on various websites about the Holmesdale Fanatics being disbanded.
I must confess, I had hoped this fell into the same category as Wilf being off to Borussia Dortmund but with the public confirmation by Roy Hodgson that the HF is no more, clearly there is a problem.
Roy seems to have been his usual diplomatic self and on the one hand expressed a desire for the dispute between the HF and the club to be resolved and on the other, made clear that no group of supporters, regardless of how passionate and noisy they are, are more important than the rest of the supporters, the players or the club.
Although, of course, Roy is right, I cannot help hoping that some resolution can be found, if it is not too late.
The HF have always divided opinion amongst the supporters and the club. The consistent noise, even when the rest of ground is more or less silent has got to be something that everyone supporting Palace is grateful for. Likewise, the displays backing the club, the players and in the case of the West Bromwich Albion home match, the manager, have made significant contributions to the public image of Selhurst Park being passionate and the home of “real” supporters – an increasingly rare commodity in the Premier League.
On the other hand, the occasional misbehaviour – the arguably overly enthusiastic celebrations, the pyrotechnics (Brighton away is the obvious example) – have aggravated some people I am sure. As it happens, I have agreed with nearly every statement the HF have made with their banners – from safe standing to a greedy Sky Sports/Premier League – I have been sympathetic, but I do appreciate that others may not agree with those views.
Overall, I have been proud that our club has attracted a group of young people (well, compared to me!) who have been prepared to put in a huge amount of effort to support their football club and generally do it in the right way.
It is relatively rare to hear a negative or insulting chant about the opposition, although inevitably there are exceptions and these rules of course do not apply to Brighton. Even in the case of Brighton, the homophonic chants have all but disappeared – at least as far as I can tell – and the HF must deserve at least some of the credit for that.
The tricky thing for me is that I sit in block E of the Lower Holmesdale, right smack in the middle of where I suspect the HF wanted to move, if the rumours are true. According to press reports, the club have said the problem was the supporters in the relevant blocks were refusing to move.
Although there was a delay in the renewal of our season tickets, there was never a clear explanation of the delay and eventually they were renewed. Of course, it may be that other season ticket holders were going to be more directly affected and maybe they were given a fuller explanation. Personally, although I have no idea of what has really gone on behind the scenes, I would be willing to move as long as my family could still sit together.
After all the positive news over the summer it would be a shame if one of the unique things about Palace and Selhurst Park was allowed to disappear without all efforts being made to resolve whatever the differences are.
Ultimately, I agree with Roy that no group of supporters are bigger than the club or all the other supporters at the ground, but I hope now that the distraction of the transfer window is out the way, management and the HF can find a sensible way to resolve their differences.