They have become as firm a fixture at the Test match as fancy dress and overpriced fish and chips – but there are signs that the infamous Headingley beer snake is fast becoming an endangered species.
Scores of supporters were ejected from England’s clash with New Zealand, which ended yesterday, for engaging in the forbidden practice of forming towers of empty plastic pint glasses.
A total of 40 fans were thrown out of the ground on Saturday, with 28 following suit the next day.
A further 20 were removed on Monday – despite signs warning of the ban displayed prominently around the stadium.
Meanwhile, the decision was taken to close the bars near the West Stand at the tea interval on Monday, with no alcohol allowed to be taken into that or the neighbouring North Stand.
The construction of so-called ‘beer snakes’ was first outlawed by the game’s governing body, the England and Wales Cricket Board, five years ago.
“It was an ECB policy to ban them across all international venues but over time we have decided to implement it even further – and this year especially – to try to stamp it out,” said Danny Reuben, the club’s head of communications.
“Most of the ejections were for anti-social behaviour, predominantly the beer snakes. It’s all about enhancing the match day experience and ensuring that everyone has a good time.
“The decision to close the bars on Monday was taken on advice within the stadium in order to improve things for people in those areas as it was getting a little bit rowdy.
“We don’t want to lose the atmosphere that makes Headingley so special, but it has to be within reason.”
Despite being hampered by the weather, with Friday’s play being washed out completely, the club is confident its insurance cover will mean it loses little or no money as a result.
The attendance over the five days topped 37,000, with 13,000 seeing Joe Root hit his first Test century at his home ground, which has a capacity of 17,500, on Saturday.
The cheapest ticket for the first three days was £40 and the club has confirmed it will now review prices for next summer’s Test against Sri Lanka.
“We’ve made some decent money, even if we would have liked to have seen more numbers,” said Mr Reuben. “It was a bit of a difficult seller because of the bank holiday and the fact it’s still early in the season.
“There’s a lot of competition in the north this summer with Nottingham, Old Trafford and Durham all hosting Ashes Tests.”