Widnes address crowd behaviour

Widnes Vikings have asked their supporters to watch their behaviour after receiving complaints of bad language and inappropriate acts during matches.

Vikings director Brian O’Connor has penned an open letter. The letter in full reads as follows:

“The Vikings have enjoyed a fantastic start to the First Utility Super League season with four points from the first three games, and even in defeat at Salford at the weekend, the team showed great heart and determination to stage a fight back from 22-0 down to almost snatch the game in the final minutes of the match.

In addition to the team’s performance on the field, one of the notable highlights of the season so far has been the fantastic support of our fans both at home and away.

As a Club we are immensely proud of our fanbase and the atmosphere that you create on the terraces is instrumental to the team achieving success.

The Salford Red Devils fixture at the AJ Bell stadium felt like a home game for the Vikings with one of the biggest away followings in our Super League history. Widnes had the support of around two thousand supporters and, although we did not get the result, they no doubt played their part in the team’s valiant response that almost snatched victory for the Vikings.

One area of concern for the Club is the behaviour of a small number of people which is ultimately discouraging new supporters to embrace our sport and, more importantly, OUR Club.

We have fielded a number of complaints over the past few weeks from supporters, primarily attending their first game or first away game, who have felt the need to highlight to the Club that although the spectacle on the field was fantastic they would not be returning due to the language or inappropriate behaviour that they had encountered in the stands.

As with any sporting environment passions can ride high and emotion can get the better of people.  All we ask is that our supporters remain as loud, passionate, proud, witty and funny as always whilst being respectful of each other, in particular those with young children in attendance.

As a Club I strongly believe that we are building something special at Widnes Vikings, something that the whole town and borough of Halton can be proud of. We work tirelessly in our local community to encourage people, especially youngsters, to attend their first game. Our challenge as a group is that we ensure that they have a great experience and wish to return week after week to allow us continue our growth and capture the next generation of supporters.

If we miss this opportunity due to an uncomfortable experience at the game, then the chances of recovering their support is highly unlikely.

I would ask that all supporters are respectful to others and considerate of those around them to ensure that nobody, regardless of age, sex, gender, ability or race is offended or feels threatened in any way.

I understand that this behaviour is only from a small percentage of our fans, but we can all play a part in eradicating it, either by highlighting issues to a steward or using the confidential ‘TackleIt’ text service (07506605205) which is in operation for both home and away fixtures.

As we continue to support the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation in the lead up to this year’s Magic Weekend at St James’ Park, it is quite poignant to find a quote from Sir Bobby that encapsulates the magic that can be created by our Club:

What is a club in any case?

Not the buildings or the directors or the people who are paid to represent it.

It’s not the television contracts, get-out clauses, marketing departments or executive boxes.

It’s the noise, the passion, the feeling of belonging, the pride in your city.

It’s a small boy clambering up stadium steps for the very first time, gripping his father’s hand, gawping at that hallowed stretch of turf beneath him and, without being able to do a thing about it, falling in love.

Now we may be a Town, not a City. Our hallowed turf may be a little different to the rest, but we still have that magic that captures the heart of an individual and ensures that they belong to our family for the rest of their lives.

Let’s not give any spectator reason to walk down those stadium steps at the end of a game with any other thing in mind than when they can come again.

Thank you for your continued support and I am sure that with your fantastic encouragement and the atmosphere that you, as a group, never fail to generate, we can achieve great things in the future.”

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