To many, being a football fan isn’t just about the enjoyment of the sport. Within going to matches, celebrating your team’s wins and even lamenting their losses, you become part of a community, a family. Some may argue no greater sense of purpose is felt than by those standing in a stadium, in an echo chamber of like minded people full of hope and passion.

Due to the impact of COVID-19, the ability to attend football matches was lost from the middle of March and for many, along with it, this sense of purpose lost as well. Suddenly an event that people centre their whole lives around was taken away, understandably leaving it’s fans with a desolate feeling of emptiness.

Even though Premier League football matches returned in June for Britain, nothing is the same. Devoted fans cannot attend the matches as they once did eight months ago and even the cheers heard when players score are automated, leaving a hollow echo of lifelessness ringing throughout the nation. Those who were once at the forefront of the intensity of matches, even possibly appearing on television are now stuck only watching matches from their own televisions, with the celebration felt as a result of a successful game only heard in the four walls of their home.

Speaking with life-long Crystal Palace fan, Barnes, the impact of not being able to go to matches and feel the sense of community that come along with being a football fan was prevalent. ‘You feel part of something, something unique’ he told me about the impact of being a football fan. Speaking on how he felt when matches were cancelled he said ‘I found myself really missing it, this used to be something really exciting’. Regarding now having to watch every match virtually he commented ‘Watching it on TV is nowhere near as fun – In all honesty, I’m not that fussed about watching it on TV. Obviously I’m still interested but watching (matches) alone, in your house now that the second lockdown has happened, for some people that’s alright but for me in no way can it compare’. It became apparent how going to football matches isn’t just about the sport for Barnes ’It’s not just about watching the matches – It’s about a day out with your friends, the community, the atmosphere, the experience of it. It’s something that I’ve been doing week in, week out for about four years so it’s definitely a big part of my life that I’ve been missing out on for eight months or so now’.

Regarding football as we know it making a comeback, it still seems far away. Now that the second lockdown has happened in England, it’s understandable that people feel even more disconnected to the sport they love now than they did a few months ago. A sense of normalcy in life in general let alone in professional sport seems far out of reach. While acknowledging that ‘obviously you can live without it and there are more important things’, Barnes feels ‘It’s been taken away. It’s something that I did for a long time that I can’t do and won’t be able to do for the foreseeable future’.