“In this world nothing can be said to be certain except death, football and taxes.”
This may be a slight tweak of the original saying from US founding father Benjamin Franklin, but this version is much more suitable to this corner of the world and the people who inhabit it. Though at this moment of time, this passion is displayed from the ‘discomfort’ of our own homes.
Especially these days, football can be said to be one of those certainties which picks us up when we fall. The comforting thought that the mighty Reds are playing at the weekend can provide optimism for taking on the sluggish week that you feel will swallow you up at some point.
It is ignorant bliss in its raw form, while doom and gloom have us surrounded in every direction. Even in the barren stadiums we have to endure, there’s still a feeling of tradition in our lives.
The stadium. The pub. The chip shops. The programme stall. They go quiet these days. No scarf-bearing supporter eager for a delicious steak and kidney pie swimming in gravy on the way to the match. No pre-match pint at the local. No quick flick of the programme as you settle into your seat before the team comes out. No warm feeling inside as you spot friendly faces within the crowd.
That same route you walk to the ground. That every turn of the corner, crossing of the road, walk through the park unfulfilled. The kids who would mind your car for a couple of quid going with empty pockets. No chanting on the bus, the train, the pub. I wonder how that kid is? I wonder how he’s earning that pocket money?
‘I wonder what happened to that matchday programme fella?’ Everyone knows one of them. Shouting the odds as he did every week. “Hat scarf or a badge!” We know one of them too.
On second thought, at least their throats are getting a good rest.
Those infuriating away fans, too. Swanning off their fancy coaches, thinking they own the playground. Look at them. Every goal kick your ‘keeper takes is followed by their ever-predictable “you’re s**t, ahahahaha”. And then having to listen to that chorus of “is this a library?” if the ground goes 30 seconds without a chant.
Still, it’s fine if you’re the one on an away day though. The other team deserves it.
Overall, I think we can agree on what everyone misses the most – the buzz. That buzz. You know what I’m talking about. That feeling while you’re enveloped by the large crowd, walking towards the ground. Everyone’s upbeat, everyone’s chanting. It just felt like one of those days. You could just feel it in the air. It felt magical.
Not much can beat that.
Throughout the footballing world, people from all areas have long awaited the return of their matchday traditions. Some maybe more than others.Embed from Getty Images
Some may be happy that their partners are spending time with them, instead of spending their weekends in some town 100 miles away. For others, they’d rather be 100 miles away than be with their partner on a weekend!
A year on from the start of restrictions that denied us entry into our parish, Covid-19 continues to impact most our lives. But it will end. It is coming to an end. Our places of worship will open again once more.
The news can often be full of negativity, so people turn to hope and faith. This seems to have been rewarded. For the last two games of the current season, clubs are set to welcome 10,000 loyal supporters back into their stadiums.
And by June 21, all restrictions are supposed to end in the UK. Which means that, for the start of the 2021/22 season, we will hopefully be back to the places we love.
But not everyone will. Some fell victim to this pandemic. Some who served their club throughout their lives, who loved their club with a fearless passion.
For some of their loved ones, it may never be the same. But when the time comes, as we are enjoying being back, we will spare a thought to these people, amidst the chanting and laughing and drinking. Those loyal supporters, taken from us too soon.
We will remember them.
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