During the last 14 months we have seen many changes to life as we normally know it. One of those changes has been watching sporting events taking place in empty stadiums. Instead of hearing the roar of the crowd there has been silence. It just does not seem right. Although the TV companies have given viewers the option of listening to artificial crowd noises. Personally, I am not a big fan of them.
Whilst I like football, I have found myself getting increasingly bored with watching it being played in empty stadiums. In fact, I sometimes find it takes me a while to work out whether a goal has been scored due to the silence in the grounds. Under normal circumstances there would be a roar from the crowd. But now there is nothing. It is just not the same game without the crowd. Football needs the fans. Even a dull game can appear exciting with a lively crowd at the match.
With the lack of crowds and matches devoid of any atmosphere I decided initially not to watch the FA Cup Final last Saturday. My plan was probably to switch on in the last 15 minutes just to see the result. I had no intention of watching 90 minutes of fake crowd noises. However, on the news on Saturday morning they mentioned that there were in fact going to be about 20,000 fans let in for this match. Although that is less than 25% of the capacity of Wembley stadium, it certainly better than zero fans! Additionally, both Chelsea and Leicester City fans are quite noisy, so I changed my mind and decided to watch the game.
I am glad I made that decision because it was great to see football fans back in a stadium for a match. It did look a bit strange though seeing many of them wearing facemasks. That aside I really enjoyed the atmosphere and the game too. It was just like the old days: fans singing for their team, booing certain opposite players, and singing songs directed at the opposition fans. This was football as I remember it. The atmosphere was so different to the 2020 FA Cup Final which was played in front of an empty stadium.
Obviously playing a game at Wembley with 20,000 fans present means that it was over 75% empty. But this is a huge step in the right direction. Hopefully one day soon it will be possible to have stadiums 100% full again and no facemasks on view.