Leeds United fan's plunge at Chelsea highlights stupidity of growing 'limbs' culture

A supporter has been left in hospital after falling from the top tier of the Shed End on Wednesday night.
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The stickler in me is often quick to point out that I am not terrified of heights as such, but rather, terrified of falling from them. In that sense, Google tells me I'm basophobic, not acrophobic, although I'm also sure that as you plummet towards a solid surface below, such distinctions matter for little.

On Wednesday night, my stomach took a nauseating plunge of its own when I read that a Leeds United fan had fallen from the top tier of the Shed End at Stamford Bridge. The incident happened during the celebrations that ensued following Mateo Joseph's opening goal in the eighth minute, and left the unidentified supporter hospitalised after they landed on block of empty seats in the terrace beneath. At the time of writing, there have been no updates on the man's condition.

It should go without saying that when something like this happens, the most important thing is that the person involved is okay. The full recovery of an injured fan matters infinitely more than any opinion peddled in a two-bit column like this one. That being said, the sorry affair did get me ruminating on the visible fervour that very probably caused it.

In recent times, we have seen an increased idolisation of 'limbs' in football. For the uninitiated, and those who are fortunate enough to not live their lives chronically online, this is the cultural perception that the wilder a goal is celebrated, the more a fanbase should be lauded for their joyous reaction. It is performative nonsense for the performance age.

You see, there is a difference between the genuine unbridled delight that follows a pivotal strike and the rough and tumble bravado that sees middle-aged men throw themselves around on concrete like Ribena-tripping schoolchildren in a bouncy castle, turning away ends up and down the country into bloodied no-man's lands on a weekly basis. Avalanches of bodies, torn garments, smashed phone screens and eyebrow stitches - is any of it worth the plastic hyperbole? 'Limbs' beget broken limbs, and it is only a matter of time before they lead, god forbid, to something worse entirely.

Nobody is trying to be the fun police here, and everybody has the right to express their happiness as they see fit, but sometimes common sense has to prevail - especially when the alternative endangers those in the immediate vicinity.

Last night was a perfect illustration of how swiftly things can sour, and how pointless the whole charade is; a man has been left in hospital at least partially because of the overreaction to an early goal in a cup tie that Chelsea would eventually go on to win 3-2 anyways. Again, nobody is suggesting that a travelling support may only properly celebrate on the trill of the final whistle, but any self-respecting football fan knows that you don't go too big, too early. The old adage that 'pride comes before a fall' is a lot scarier when that fall really happens.

None of this is intended to apportion blame, whether that be on Leeds United supporters or anybody else. As cruel as they are, accidents do happen from time to time. But if we are to take anything from Wednesday's mischance, perhaps it is a reminder that away ends, like anywhere else where large groups of people gather, require a certain element of sensible awareness. When it comes to this phenomenon of 'limbs', sometimes less is more.

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