261 days. That is how long it has been since I have sat in the open air at Sincil Bank and watched a game in the Football League.
By the time we play Sunderland, it will be 280 days, but there is a real possibility that on that day, the 280th in exile, fans will finally start getting back into the ground. I know I got to watch the Liverpool game, courtesy of doing Matchday Live, but like all fans, I haven’t known the exhilaration of a goal going in, surrounded by 8,000 like-minded supporters. I have missed that rush, so much. ‘ve missed meeting friends, having a drink and walking up the stairs and seeing the green pitch reveal itself as the curtains go up on another game.
I genuinely didn’t think we would get back in the ground this season, but today the government have announced that we could start going back as early as the end of lockdown. The country comes out of lockdown on December 2nd and is to return to the confusing tiered system. It seems a return to the grounds is lined to the tier system, with the number of fans allowed in based on the tier level of the location.
Reports suggest that 4,000 fans, or 50% capacity, could be allowed back into grounds that are in a tier-one location. The lower of those numbers would apply, so the maximum supporters we might see in the ground come December 12th is 4,000. In tier two, which Lincoln were approaching when we went into lockdown, the level would be 2,000 supporters. Sadly, if our area becomes tier 3, then fans will not be allowed back in.
This is obviously a fluid situation and we could see 2,000 one week, and none the next, or 4,000 one week reduced to 2,000. One would hope, given the infection rates in Lincolnshire at present, that we will at least remain in tier 2, meaning 2,000 lucky fans could well be in the ground to finally witness Appleton’s Army on their quest for a top ten finish.
Of course, this is great news for the Shed Light on the Plight campaign, as well as the Save Our Clubs campaign, but it is a tentative start and by no means a clear pathway to watching games again. With around 4,300 existing season ticket holders, it will pose some logistic problems, but the fact is the club will have lots of work to do around not only allocation but also people management, traffic flow and the like.
Still, it is nice to finally get some good news around the possibility of getting back home, to where (and I’m aware this is very Faithless-centric), We Come One, to the church where I heal my hurts… Sincil Bank.
After a fairly rotten weekend, this is just the tonic. Hopefully, it will put a smile on a few of your faces too.