Whilst there may have been Friday night football, it is really today that the football season kicks off in earnest with the Swans on the road at Preston and all those hopes and dreams of a three month close season are fresh in our minds on a sunny August morning.
No? Ah yes, we forget. Last season ended for us a little over five weeks ago and the Championship season of 19/20 finished less than five weeks ago. August has passed and we are close to halfway through September and whilst the sun may shine in places, summer is rapidly turning to August as the nights start to close in on winter.
Welcome to the start of a football season 2020 style. Instead of Swans fans currently hitting the motorways of Wales and England to head into the North West you have Swans fans waking up in their homes, faced with a morning of shopping and the prospect of an afternoon on the sofa watching the game. At least we are saved – in Wales only – the need to wear masks in those shops until Monday.
Up and down the country today football fans will be faced with the same routine as football continues to operate behind closed doors. The various government announcements this week have pretty much told us that this is likely to be the case for quite some time yet as the nation tries to stave off the Covid-19 outbreak that has killed so many plans and events already in this year that has been like no other.
And whilst for those in football things will carry on as normal for the next nine months, clubs and fans remain apart from each other (at least for now) with matches taking place behind the closed doors of football stadia leaving hundreds and thousands of seats empty in their wake.
189 days have passed by now since I vacated my seat at the Liberty after watching the 0-0 draw with West Brom. My season ticket had been renewed in January and will largely go unused this season with TV streams being the only realistic hope I think I have of watching games for the remainder of 2020 as a minimum. Since that time (27 whole weeks) it seems like a lifetime of things have changed and we will talk about this period for years to come.
It will be the year that football shut down for three months in the middle of a season. The year that the Champions League of 2019/20 finished well after the Champions League of 2020/21 started. The year that the play off final was contested on a Tuesday afternoon at the start of August. And the year that Leagues One and Two were decided on a points per game basis.
I don’t know whether I go into this season on the optimism that the magical night in Reading gave us when the Swans turned around a 6 goal deficit in under half hour to reach the play offs. Or whether it was the deflation of us not really competing in a second leg of a play off semi final to eventually close a season almost a year after it started.
The optimism of what seemed to be some good signings in a summer was severely dampened by a pretty dismal league cup defeat at Newport and we know that we go into this opening game really needing another two or three players before we can believe we have a squad capable of competing over the next eight months of football.
But all of that aside it is the first day of the football season and none of us know what the next 46 games will bring in terms of a final result. We know there will be highs and lows (we know that more than so many other clubs) and we know that there will be moments where the TV screen is in danger of having flung something at it and the cat is hiding for cover. But we probably wouldn’t have it any other way (bar of course the obvious of being back in amongst the stadia and the people we have known for so long) and that when it comes to the end of it it will probably be the same as so many seasons before – it will be the hope that kills us.
So start your engines (well, don’t really as there is nowhere to go) and sit back (certainly much more relevant this year) and welcome in the 2020/21 season because here we go again – COME ON YOU SWANS!!
And as a footnote, we are already three points behind the leaders, twelve points off the bottom and ahead of Neil Warnock. Normal service feels resumed already…