Britain’s standard-bearer ultras group, Aberdeen’s Red Ultras, disbanded earlier this month.
Their website simply states:
We are sad to announce that as of Tuesday 5th January 2010 the Aberdeen Red Ultras have ceased to exist.
The Red Ultras were set up in 1999 by a group of supporters who wished to bring colour and atmosphere to games involving our beloved Aberdeen Football Club. It has not been easy to do this within the safety climate that currently exists in Scottish Football and mistakes have been made during this time. The pictures that will remain on this site are testament however to all of our members hard work over the years and will remain as a reminder to all what can be acheived if you truly believe in your cause. We are forever grateful for for the dedication and passion our members have displayed and we will continue to share a bond of friendship that will never end.
We would like to take this opportunity thank you all at Aberdeen FC who have assisted and the Aberdeen supporters in general who gave us great support during these years, we appreciate your support more than you ever knew.
The Red Ultras are no more however we must be happy with what we have achieved, we did it for the team we love and that love will continue regardless of what the future holds.
Phenemonal displays like this, lighting up European nights at Pittodrie, will be no more:
A message from one of the group’s leaders on a messageboard simply said “I have decided to disband the group as of today,theres far too much hassle with it so after much debate the group is no more.The lads will still of course attend games but there will be no more RU banners etc on show.Who knows what the future may bring but id like to take this opportunity and thank every one who has participated in the displays over the last decade and to those who have kindly donated to the cause. STAND FREE”
“Hassle” was probably an understatement.
Articles in the national press like this one that simply equate “ultras” with “hooligans” hardly helped. Press treatment from both the local Aberdeen and Scottish newspapers was even more malicious.
The Red Ultras had little support from the club (despite images of their displays being used in marketing campaigns), and were also forced to move to a different section after complaints from the corporate boxes that pre-game displays of banners and flags were partially obscuring their view.
Without safe standing areas, and without any appreciation or understanding of what ultras are trying to do from the authorities, it is always an uphill battle for ultras groups in Britain. England and Scotland lag not just far behind Germany in understanding how to safely manage supporters’ culture beyond passive consumption, but now also well behind North America.
The reference to “mistakes” in the Red Ultras announcement indicates, of course, that some actions taken by members of the group did not meet with approval from other Aberdeen fans. A recent smokebomb incident pissed off a number of fans in the Ultras’ new section.
But, judging from the outpouring of regret at their disbanding on Aberdeen’s forums, the majority of Dons fans appreciated the passion the Red Ultras brought to Aberdeen’s games home and away. Hopefully they will reform, learn from mistakes they have made, and perhaps after their absence begins to be felt at Pittodrie, they might be welcomed back with a bit more understanding and accommodation for their efforts.