‘A few tears were shed’ – your stories of returning to football

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August 24, 2021
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    Fans at the King Power Stadium for Leicester v WolvesFans have been revelling in the excitement of being back in grounds for football matches

    After 18 long and frustrating months, supporters are finally back in proper numbers for football matches.

    We asked you to tell us about your experiences of being back in capacity crowds – and there were some emotional stories.

    Gordon Buckley: "The first time I stepped back into Bloomfield Road after the pandemic was very emotional and a few tears were shed. I'm 59 years old and have followed Blackpool for 51 years. Going there is like going to church on a Sunday – it's a religion; it's my sacred place that means the world to me. The friends you see who you don't know but say hello to anyway because they are wearing the team's colours."

    Blackpool fans at Bloomfield RoadBlackpool's first home Championship game in six years was received with a great roar

    Sahil: "I went back to the home of football, Vicarage Road, to see the mighty 'Orns beat Aston Villa on the first day of the season! It has been two long years since I last saw a live football match, and what a return it was! A sell-out crowd, a great atmosphere and beautiful football to end it! Life may not be completely normal, but being back watching football live again is definitely bringing it back!"

    Paul Reynolds: "It helped re-establish an increasingly tenuous connection between club and fans. The intense atmosphere at Spurs last weekend was without parallel in my experience and it felt like a mixture of joy and relief that we could be there again, and that we had an opportunity to affect our team in a positive way, that had been denied us for so long."

    Stuart Baird: "My son was born three weeks before we were last relegated from the Premier League (in 2004), so this was his first Leeds match in the Premier League. I have taken him to some dire matches over the years, but this Marcelo Bielsa team and the atmosphere – the football match was perfect. Both sides went for it. The noise was incredible. It was like being with family."

    Leeds United fansLeeds drew 2-2 against Everton in their first Premier League match back in front of fans at Elland Road

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    Simon Vickers: "Describing this is incredibly difficult. The rain drenched me as I walked to Elland Road and I was so emotional I barely noticed. Having the opportunity to sing to the current champs and applaud the champs of the past that we've lost felt so long overdue. We love these lads and they love us and what else is football about? It's good to be home. Long may it continue."

    Richard Nuttall: "Attending Elland Road yesterday and hearing 'Marching On Together' being sung so loud by my fellow Leeds fans at 3pm brought a tear to my eye and ranks up there with watching the birth of my children. Emotional."

    S Dixon: "I woke early on Saturday with excited butterflies in my stomach at going back to the Etihad for the first time. The traffic was a nightmare and it was raining but it is Manchester so normal service resumed! It was emotional to be back in the ground and I couldn't actually sing along with Blue Moon at kick-off because I was welling up. There is nothing quite like the shared experience of live sport."

    Andy Steggals: "To be able to get back to Selhurst with my 81-year-old dad for the first time in many months meant so much. We've been going to Palace together since the 70s and seen it all. Managers, chairmen and players come and go… we go up… we go down but one thing stays the same, the passion of the crowd, the noise from the stands and my dad next to me… that's special."

    Selhurst Park fans"As the soul of the Palace returns, the terrace comes alive" – a fan banner at Crystal Palace's goalless draw with Brentford at Selhurst Park

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    James Smit: "I was at Anfield for the first time in a year and a half. Not only was it amazing to see it full, but the mural on the Kop for the now 97, seeing away fans, meeting up with old friends… in the dark days of lockdown earlier this year, I wouldn't have thought less than seven months later I'd be back at a full Anfield. It was amazing."

    Roger Thornton: "At Leeds we were robbed of the celebration of promotion and being back in the Premier League. Especially painful for my grandson missing out on the experience you can't get back. Seeing all the youngsters stood on their seats and grown men crying was priceless."

    Steven Iowe: "The start of You'll Never Walk Alone is always emotional but hearing 50,000 plus singing it left me with a lump in my throat. To hear a crowd of that size, all as one for a common cause, made me feel that maybe things will get back to the way life used to be for the first time in nearly 18 months."

    Jim Hughes: "There is a magical sense of community and belonging that comes with being a football fan. Supporting a fan-owned club, in my case Exeter City, exacerbates those feelings, and seeing over 5,000 at both League Two home games so far this season has been quite emotional. I often remark to my non-football mates that the power of football to do good should never be underestimated. Welcome back, everyone!"

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    August 24, 2021
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