Lockdowns can prove to be a very tough time, especially for all of us who love to get out and watch non-league football. Things were progressing nicely since 1st September, games, pints, pies, people.
And now here we are three weeks to go until we can enjoy these things once again, or should I say with fingers crossed? It does seem very strange that we can still pop to a garden centre, send our kids to school in what appear to be less covid-secure places than a football ground.
Out in the open air, socially distanced in most cases should surely mean as safe as can be, I mean all clubs went through the rigorous processes in the short close season to ensure we began in September so has something changed in the meantime?
We’ve had the #LetFansIn debate heard in Parliament, something I got involved in during August, begun by Dorking Wanderers and championed by many. Now the DCMS have three more weeks to come up with a plan, there is absolutely no reason why there shouldn’t be one in place to allow us back into stadiums at higher levels before much longer.
It’s happened in Europe and granted some have suspended that inclusion for the time being, but the point is that they are far in front of us. If and this is a big if the authorities have seen that fans in most cases have been inside non-league grounds safely, no or very minimal evidence that transmission of covid-19 has come from a football ground, then why should levels not be raised for non-league clubs as well?
This is personal risk now like every shop you go to, every person you want to see, streaming games I hope will continue for the foreseeable future for those who don’t feel comfortable to return, work needs to be done on that and I know clubs are very keen to encourage and show things are as normal as they can be and a safe environment for all to watch our beloved game.
I plan over the next three weeks to speak to managers, chairman and other people inside the non-league game to find out how these four weeks will affect them and their clubs, we all know that most just about struggled to survive through from March to the new season with no income and there is no doubt the next month will be just as challenging for most.
It’s not just the football clubs this four week break affects. The guys who produce the programmes, the supplier of food and drink to clubhouses all lose out over this period as well and some will not return either having worked so hard to get moving again after the sudden cut off in March and the late return in September.
Then there is the very important aspect of mental health and that applies to everyone in the game from the chairman to the tea lady to the staff and players and to the man, woman, or child on the terraces. Anyone can suffer from a number of withdrawal symptoms through all walks of life, missing something so close to them, be it a loved one, be it their favourite sport.
Now is the time more than ever to look out for those you know you won’t see for a few weeks, drop them a text message or give them a call, you’d be surprised how much difference it will make, already just a week or so into this time I’ve sent a few messages out to people I see struggling across Facebook and Twitter, it’s up to us as people to look after each other and get everyone out the other side into December and watching football on a cold crisp night.
One week down, three weeks to go, I can already smell the chips and burgers and taste that pint…………..