The return of football to the UK has seen crowds return to stadiums, with fans eager for the season ahead. But what is it like to be a fan in 2018?
Fans have been rejoicing at the prospect of returning to football stadiums.
Supporters are now returning in sufficient numbers for football matches after 18 long and stressful months.
We asked you to tell us about your experiences returning to sold-out audiences, and we received some heartfelt responses.
Buckley, Gordon: “After the pandemic, the first time I returned to Bloomfield Road was extremely emotional, and I shed a few tears. I’m 59 years old and have been a Blackpool fan for the last 51 years. Going there is like going to church on a Sunday – it’s a religion; it’s a holy location to me that means everything. Friends you pass by who you don’t know but greet regardless because they’re wearing the team’s colors.”
The first home Championship game for Blackpool in six years was greeted with a thunderous applause.
Sahil: I’m Sahil “I returned to Vicarage Road, the home of football, to see the Mighty ‘Orns defeat Aston Villa on the first day of the season! I hadn’t seen a live football match in almost two years, and what a welcome homecoming! To cap it off, a sold-out crowd, a fantastic atmosphere, and some spectacular football! Life may not be back to normal yet, but being able to watch football live again has certainly brought it back!”
Reynolds, Paul: “It aided in the re-establishment of a shaky relationship between the club and its supporters. The tight atmosphere at Spurs last Saturday was unlike anything I’d ever experienced, and it felt like a combination of pleasure and relief that we could be there again, and that we finally had a chance to have a good impact on our team, something we’d been denied for so long.”
Stuart Baird (Staff): “My kid was born three weeks before we were relegated from the Premier League for the last time (in 2004), so today was his first Premier League match. Over the years, I’ve brought him to some terrible games, but this Marcelo Bielsa squad and the atmosphere – the football match was wonderful. Both sides decided to go for it. The decibel level was amazing. It felt as though I were among family.”
In their first Premier League encounter back in front of home supporters at Elland Road, Leeds drew 2-2 with Everton.
Vickers, Simon: “This is very difficult to put into words. I was so emotional that I didn’t see the rain drenching me as I went to Elland Road. It seemed long overdue to be able to sing to the present champions and praise the champions of the past who had passed away. We adore these guys, and they adore us, so what’s the point of football if not to have fun? It feels wonderful to be back at home. May it continue for a long time.”
Richard Nuttall (Richard Nuttall): “Attending Elland Road yesterday and hearing ‘Marching On Together’ sung so loudly by my fellow Leeds supporters at 3 p.m. brought a tear to my eye and rates right up there with seeing my children be born. Emotional.”
Dixon, S.: “I awoke early on Saturday with butterflies in my stomach, anticipating my first visit to the Etihad. The traffic was terrible, and it was pouring, but this is Manchester, so business as usual continued! Being back in the dirt was emotional, and I couldn’t even sing along with Blue Moon during kick-off because I was crying. Nothing compares to the shared experience of watching a live sporting event.”
Andy Steggals (Steggals): “It meant so much to be able to return to Selhurst with my 81-year-old father for the first time in months. We’ve been coming to Palace together since the 1970s and have seen all there is to see. Managers, chairmen, and players come and go… we rise and fall, but one thing remains constant: the fervor of the audience, the roar from the bleachers, and my father standing next to me… that’s something unique.”
“As the Palace’s spirit returns, the terrace comes alive” – a supporter banner at Selhurst Park during Crystal Palace’s goalless draw with Brentford.
Smit, James: “For the first time in a year and a half, I was at Anfield. Not only was it incredible to see it packed, but the mural on the Kop for the now 97, seeing away supporters, catching up with old friends… in the dark days of lockdown earlier this year, I never imagined I’d be back at Anfield in less than seven months. It was incredible.”
Roger Thornton (Roger): “We were deprived of the joy of promotion and re-entry into the Premier League at Leeds. It’s especially heartbreaking for my grandson to miss out on the once-in-a-lifetime event. It was wonderful to see all the kids on their feet and older adults weeping.”
Iowe, Steven: “I usually get choked up at the opening of You’ll Never Walk Alone, but hearing 50,000+ people sing it gave me a knot in my throat. Hearing such a large audience come together for a similar cause gave me hope that, for the first time in almost 18 months, things might return to normal.”
Jim Hughes (Jim Hughes): “Being a football fan brings with it a wonderful feeling of camaraderie and belonging. Supporting a fan-owned team, like Exeter City, exacerbates those emotions, and witnessing over 5,000 people at both League Two home games this season has been very emotional. I frequently tell my non-football friends that football’s ability to accomplish good should never be underestimated. Everyone, welcome back!”
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