Matt Howman: Football is about moments... and fans are missing them
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Clock ticking towards full-time, City pushing forward in search of a winner. A classic Championship fixture full of action, chances and full-blooded challenges, this would have had a crowd bouncing.
The away fans would have been roaring as Emi Buendia went down to win the penalty and more so as Jordan Hugill calmly rolled the ball into the corner to grab all three points.
The reality was shouts from the players and the coaching staff echoing around the ground, and Hugill darting off to pump his fist in front of a few empty seats and a lone cameraman. A great result but a hollow celebration.
One of the main reasons football is so commercially successful is because of the spectacle. Moments of magic that have stadiums of fans going “absolutely bananas” to steal a phrase from Chris Goreham.
Saturday’s early season victory wasn’t perhaps in that bracket, however it was another reminder of how football is currently treading water and losing the extra edge which keeps us going week after week.
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Elsewhere, Manuel Lanzini fired in a 94th minute wonderstrike to claw back a point for West Ham and already this season we’ve seen moments of pure quality, atrocious refereeing and crazy results that have all been dampened down by the lack of fans present in the stadium.
Will Aston Villa 7, Liverpool 2 be as well remembered as it would have been had the Holte End been in full voice? What about Tottenham thrashing Manchester United 1-6 at Old Trafford?
MORE: City release young midfielderThe behind-closed-doors effect seems to have created an environment for some teams and players to flourish with less pressure, however the results seem a little false, lacking the same authenticity had they been played “in normal times”.
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Those moments that should stick long in the memory just aren’t the same.
As a football fan, weekends are all about fixtures and results. The perfect Saturday afternoon is going to Carrow Road, watching a Norwich win and then catching Match of the Day later in the evening. The game itself is important, but it’s all about the experience.
Being freezing cold in your seat as the rain pelts down at you under the floodlights. Being there in those amazing moments with Dad, Grandad, family or friends when the stadium is roaring… nothing comes close to it. Whether you’re in the pub before or after the game, checking your bets, rushing home to get a takeaway after the game, when you’ve come from behind to win in the 95th minute the whole weekend is made.
Of course, there is nothing that we can do but wait. Health and safety prevails and football has to learn to exist in whichever way it can so it’s still there for whenever the time may be that fans can descend upon stadiums again, but as it stands it’s difficult to experience that same level of excitement that you should feel when the result goes your way.
For most Norwich fans I think there is also still a hangover from the previous season and a combination of that and a transfer window of high-profile sales overshadowing purchases has curbed enthusiasm. The season hasn’t started at a canter and after fans were left to simmer on no win in over six months, victories now are still seen as papering over cracks. It’s hard to shake off that lingering resentment that we couldn’t put together a better showing in those final few games of last season.
However, I think all of that will be forgotten when we’re finally back to a stage where 27,000 fans can bustle back into Carrow Road again and enjoy football how it should be enjoyed, live and in the moment with the people you want to share it with.
At the moment it’s win, lose or draw, I’ll take it as it comes. But with each passing game football is becoming a shell of its former self, football without fans has killed the spectacle.