Euro 2020: What games at Wembley Stadium could look like
- Credit: Jacob Ranson
Empty stadiums, masks and eerie atmospheres have been the theme of the season during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic but now the excitement of the Euros can begin as we slowly head towards some form of normality.
After being postponed last year and pushed back to this summer due to the Covid-19 outbreak across the world, we will finally see the Euros played, in what will hopefully be the start of normal sport with growing crowds returning as restrictions slowly ease.
I personally have been very fortunate to go to more matches than I previously ever have in a season before, but it was all very different, and will continue to be despite fans slowly making their way back into stadiums in recent weeks.
During the 2020-21 season, I was able to go to big grounds like Arsenal, Tottenham, West Ham, QPR and many more, as well as lower league clubs such as Leyton Orient, Dagenham & Redbridge and Wealdstone, with other grounds along the way.
At first, behind closed doors matches were a new burden which I found fascinating mainly due to being able to hear everything the players were shouting on the pitch as it gave a new perspective on the game and how certain players deal with things.
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It must have been hard for the players to not have that 12th man - as the cliché has it - and it can mean players are a tad more lacklustre without being urged on.
I feel that definitely had an impact on the season across all levels as we’ve seen home advantage all but go out of the window whereas some teams normally thrive at home due to perhaps a daunting atmosphere for the opponents.
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The weirdest part about it has been - and will continue to be - when goals are scored. There is no rise in volume or electric atmosphere, not even a good tackle can be applauded and appreciated, therefore players running, jumping and cheering to a bunch of empty seats still doesn’t quite sit right with me.
That and, of course, having temperature checks, filling out forms, and having to head straight to your seat rather than wandering around to soak up the atmosphere or even have a bite to eat, all while wearing masks throughout the entire match.
Fans have since returned in limited numbers and what a treat it has been to have supporters cheering on their teams, at least for the final few weeks. It finally feels like football has returned, despite some magnificent games throughout this difficult period.
Hornchurch took 3,000 supporters to Wembley as they were crowned FA Trophy champions with a 3-1 win over Hereford and you would never expect or even imagine how much of a difference that sort of a crowd made even in such a huge stadium.
West Ham also welcomed back fans for their final home match of the season and having 10,000 in at the London Stadium was electric, especially considering they confirmed a place in the Europa League next season in front of the Hammers faithful.
Now the opportunity of having even more fans in at Wembley to watch England play in the Euros is so exciting after what has been an extremely difficult year for football fans who have had to watch games on TV or live streams throughout the lockdowns.
It’s also very fitting for the country to have one of the biggest football tournaments in the world on home soil throughout the group stages and potentially the major finals if the Three Lions can progress that far to give everyone something to cheer about once again.
Fans will also be able to go into bars and have something to eat pre-match, albeit in a limited capacity in those and the stadiums. The few that are in attendance will be so up for it after being deprived of any football for over a year.
Personally, I can't wait to watch a number of the stars represent their countries having seen them play throughout this season, including the likes of West Ham's Declan Rice, Tottenham's Harry Kane, and of course QPR striker Lyndon Dykes for Scotland.
I've seen the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal, Everton and almost all of the big clubs this campaign, so will have watched players from all different nations that are set to take to the stage in the international tournament.
I can't wait for the action to get underway.