Spud Thornhill: Time to take a break... or even end the season early

Photo: Rich Eaton.
Tamworth FC v Norwich City. The FA Cup. 06/01/2007. Jose Veiga the Tamworth ke

Dion Dublin scores in Norwich City's win at Tamworth in 2007 - a great away day, but should this weekend's games be going ahead? - Credit: Rich Eaton/Sportsbeat Images

Last June I wrote a piece on this column asking for last season to end due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Some people said I wanted that as it was Norwich’s only chance of staying up.  

I was disappointed with that reaction - I wasn’t bothered about staying up or not when it came to people’s health.  

I was then asked, ‘what if Norwich were top of the league?’. The answer is:  I would still want the season to end, even if it meant Norwich losing the opportunity of promotion. Either way, the health of people was more important, the season didn’t matter.  

Well, we are top of the league now and I think there should be a break in the game or even an early end to the season, for the sake of the game I love so much and even more importantly for the sake of everybody’s health. 

The last couple of weeks has seen, in my opinion, this awful virus at its worst and my concerns for everybody has been at its highest.  

Before Christmas, fortunately, the virus had not really had much effect on me personally as I didn’t know anyone who had tested positive, but since then, six people I know have contracted the virus and hearing from them expressing how badly they are suffering is truly awful. 

Hearing the latest facts this week has confirmed to me that we should be taking a break from the game for the sake of everybody’s health. 

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I have heard in the UK that one in 50 people has coronavirus when just few months ago it was one in 900. Only this week, 40 players or footballing staff from Premier League clubs have received the news that they have contracted the virus. I suppose some of the individuals who attended New Year parties didn’t help the situation.  

I don’t think the EFL have helped the situation when they told our fellow Championship side Rotherham United to play their league game against Barnsley or face points deduction. Rotherham had a Covid outbreak, causing them to postpone two games. Had Rotherham not played the game they could’ve had points deducted or face a heavy fine.  

After Rotherham had the first of two games called off, their players didn’t train as the EFL told the club to come back in nine days’ time, instead of the medical advice of 10 days.  

It forced Rotherham manager Paul Warne to play the game and even in his press conference he gave his concerns, especially to Barnsley. After hearing this, I selfishly had my concerns over Barnsley and their next opponents after the Rotherham game. Us!  

Barnsley beat Rotherham and then before our game, the Tykes announced that there were four first team players absent from the team because of Covid.  

All my concerns were becoming more real.  

People may argue, saying the players are being checked. But I’m not sure it’s as frequent as the Premier League clubs and is everyone getting checked? Possibly not.  

The problem is there can be a number of days after exposure to the virus where you may not test positive but may still have the virus, meaning being tested every day is not a guaranteed way of knowing the individuals are free from the virus. 

With all these restrictions in place, at my place of work I cannot share my work vehicle with colleagues, even for a few miles, but footballers and club staff are allowed to share a bus together for many miles. 

Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd. 07904 64026707/01/12Grant Holt of Norwich and Andr

Grant Holt in action against Burnley in 2012 - the last time Norwich City won a home tie in the FA Cup - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

This weekend is the third round of the FA Cup, one of my favourite match days of the season. I have memories of cup away days at Exeter, Tamworth and Grimsby, to name just three. Okay, it’s not because I’m not able to attend our game against Coventry, but I would have thought it would be best if it was scrapped.  

Not just because of all the risks, but how can the government allow professional clubs to continue training and playing but non-professional clubs can’t? 

Sunday’s tie between amateur side Marine v professional side Tottenham Hotspur is on. Are Marine playing the game without training during the week? If so how is that fair and isn’t it going against the rules of non-professional teams not allowed to play? 

I think we all know the answer, but I am sure there are plenty more questions to be asked - and I’m not including if we can enjoy our first FA Cup home win since 2012. 

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