Monday, May 10, 2021

End of a football season that never really started for me

Yesterday, Shrewsbury Town played their last game of their Football League One season. I have felt increasingly disconnected from football over the course of the season. It's an equivalent conundrum to the old philosophical question about trees - if two teams play football and nobody's watching, then does the result still matter?

Fenced off from football

Shrewsbury finished in 17th, a slot they inhabited for most of the season after climbing out of the relegation zone under their new manager, Steve Cotterill. They maintained that position while the manager was in hospital recovering from Covid-19, including a stint in intensive care. So it has been a difficult season, with very few positives. They reached the third round of the FA Cup, and so I watched their game on BT Sport. But the rest of the season has passed by without me really noticing. 

The one occasion I really felt a pang of missing out was back in February, when I couldn't go on my annual trip to watch Shrewsbury play Bristol Rovers. I blogged about it at the time. I felt that pang again this past weekend, when I realised that Barry Town were playing TNS in Oswestry on the Saturday and then Shrewsbury were away at near neighbours Crewe Alexandra on the Sunday. In pre-Covid times, that would have been a perfect double-header weekend for me.

The initial cancellation of the season and early days of the UK lockdown back in 2020 meant several of my plans to watch football matches got nixed. I had planned to go up to Sunderland to watch Shrewsbury play in the Stadium of Light for the first time in April 2020, but that game never happened due to Covid. This season's match was restricted too. If Sunderland win the play-offs and go up to the Championship at the end of the season, then my chance to see Shrewsbury play them in the league will probably disappear with them. (Similarly, Bristol Rovers got relegated, so no February trip to that game next year either.)

The Euro 2020 games last summer got postponed. I had a ticket for a game at Wembley and for a first ever trip to Hampden Park, but have since cashed those tickets in for refunds. The games are likely to go ahead with very reduced capacity this summer and other people who held on to their tickets are now being told they can't go. 

The other summer event that I missed was Barry Town's trip to the Faroe Islands for a Europa League game. I would have loved to have gone on that away trip, and I would have probably taken my Mum with the hope we could connect with some of my Grandma's family. We went to the Faroes as a family when I was 12 and I have always wanted to go back. 

Obviously the Euro 2020 games and the trip to the Faroes would have been quite big events. But I feel equally sad at missing out on trips to the Memorial Stadium and end-of-season double-headers of meaningless games. 

It has been over 14 months since I last went to a football match and this is the first season where I have not been to a single game since I started chronicling my football matches in 1992. I miss it sometimes, and I'm not really convinced that the season has happened at all. 

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