We all know what the 2020/21 season has brought with it.
Success on the field for the Imps in terms of a promotion push, a rebirth of sorts under Michael Appleton and all without fans in the ground.
Yesterday, 10,000 would have packed in Sincil Bank, sucking every ball towards the goal, lifting the players with every challenge. Can you imagine the cheers when Tayo barged George Honeyman off the ball? It might have been a Bozzie v Peterborough moment, one of those occurrences which can turn a game because of the fans and nothing more.
It wasn’t to be though. Whilst two of the top four clubs in the English third tier served up a decent spectacle, the stands remained quiet, the streets deserted and the gates locked. The stage upon which so many great dramas have played out was without fanatical observers, rather watched only by the cast and crew.
There is something exciting about an empty ground ahead of a game under normal conditions, when the floodlights come on and you know within hours fans will flood in. That anticipation of what is to come makes the empty stage inviting and enticing. Equally, there is something a little pitiful about an empty ground when a match is going on, something we haven’t really seen before this season. I felt it back when we played Liverpool, the quiet streets and vacant seats making everything a little less exciting. I was honoured to have watched us play Liverpool from a box, but it wasn’t football, not as I know it.
Hopefully, by the times September comes around, we’ll be back in the ground, watching the Imps and living the life we took for granted, and all of this strange separation we feel will be a thing of the past. Eventually, Lincoln City playing at Sincil Bank amongst quiet streets and silenced stands will be a story we tell to those willing to listen, but it will form a key part of our history.
That’s why yesterday, before the game, the people’s photographer Bubs took his camera off around the ground to capture the emptiness, the deserted streets and the backdrops missing the all-important characters which make them come alive. From the chip shop to the club shop, the gates to the stands, he clicked away at the beautiful majesty of our home ground devoid of the thing that makes it what it is. What is a church without a congregation? What is a boyband gig without a thousand screaming teenage girls? What is a football ground without fans?
See for yourself in this haunting collection of pictures which perhaps only serve to remind me how much I miss every aspect of a matchday.