Football is finally back after a two-month enforced hiatus.
Two months ago, the beautiful game became one of several sports and events to be snatched away by the merciless Coronavirus. Suddenly our passion was taken; our excitement depleted, and the pure release of emotions on a match-day gone.
At first, admittedly, it almost felt like a welcome break from the pressures of following a club week in week out and the pain that can come with that. It felt like a ‘see you soon’ rather than a ‘goodbye’. But, as the days went by and a month passed, people began to realise that football may not be the same for some time.
The constant threat of null and voiding the season suddenly became the first and last thing a fan would think about. Each day, a bizarre new solution would be leaked to the press, signalling mass debate. ‘What do you mean shorten the matches, that would be crazy’ one person would argue to the other as they desperately searched for some kind of football chat.
In reality, we all just craved some form of the game we all love. We needed the return of the discussions, debates and banter of football; for some, it is their only way to socially interact. And that sums up football – it brings communities together like nothing else, with a whole City collectively experiencing the same pain, joy and misery in one stadium.
Most people spend their life savings on football and in some cases, it is the only thing that keeps them going. The rightfully named ‘beautiful game’ almost acts like a 90-minute shield from the real problems in a person’s life. In those 90 minutes, the biggest problem suddenly becomes a corner that doesn’t go past the first man or a striker that has left his shooting boots behind.
Even in war-torn countries, football is seen as the one shining light; those that cannot even afford a shirt somehow highlight their passion as they seek to one day realise their dream of escaping a nightmare. But, even then, whether it is with a makeshift ball or rocks as goalposts, a game of football acts as a release and a shield to the devastating problems of reality.
So, to have a two-month break from the game that most of the population loves more than anything was difficult. And whilst the game may not be restored to its normal form for some time, the re-arrival of the Bundesliga has acted as a welcome return to some kind of previous normality. We may not be able to enjoy the full match-day experience yet, but at least some of our stars are back on the pitch.
We may not be able to buy that pre-game beer; purchase a program to add to the collection, or come together in unison to shout “shooooot” before a release of emotions when the ball finds the net. But, at the very least, we can enjoy 22 men kicking a ball around an empty stadium, striving for greatness for the sake of supporters who can only cheer from home.