The endings to post-apocalyptic films rarely seem to present a resolution – a bustling society after the “disease” has gone, after the zombies have cleared, once the war is over.
It’s hard to say what the world will look like when the current Coronavirus crisis is over. I’d like to think that pubs and restaurants will be packed, museums and galleries being enjoyed like a new renaissance, and every sporting event sold-out. Attendances from the Isthmian Divisions to the Premier League, heaving.
When the return of that first fixture is announced, I’ll be there, with bells on.
At the moment, however, there is no solution – no definitive end point. Yet one thing is certain: the world, our lives, will be very different after this. Please don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a pessimistic piece suggesting that the recent restrictions to our everyday lives are here to stay – it is anything but. Still, it is going be hard for us to forget this historic moment. It will be difficult to forget what it was like to be penned in, away from our friends and loved ones, with every touch on the television making us wince.
It will take time to recover, but we will. When the return of that first fixture is announced, I’ll be there, with bells on. I’ll pay for my train ticket (happily for once) before meeting my cousin and uncle on the train platform. We’ll joke about how people actually thought David Luiz was a good idea and what glaring omission from the starting line-up there will be today. The train will be bustling with red and white, as the pub will be before kick-off. The two-metre barriers a thing of the past – just rows of smiling custom.
As a keen football fan and gig-goer, I miss being in a crowd. There is a certain identity to it. No one crowd has the same feel as another. They can be jovial, angry, frustrated, apprehensive. But the swell of them, the feeling of being in them, is something that will never fail to excite me. We have all been robbed of this feeling as of late. Robbed by an invisible enemy that we will soon overcome. And when we do, oh how sweet that flat Carlsberg from a warm plastic cup will taste.
The walk to the ground is where it will really sink in, with a stream of people meandering the streets that were deserted not so long ago, the smell of the greasy burger vans, the guy dressed as Superman collecting for charity. As the chanting becomes louder, more sporadic, and we see that first glimpse of the stadium, then it will feel like this is finally over. That will be the resolution of this senseless, pandemic nightmare we are currently living in.
Things will be different, but this difference is one I can’t wait to see. It will be one that reminds us of what we once had. It will remind us of the freedoms we take for granted and the football teams we love to hate. Hold on, because that time will come. And, when that first goal hits the net (VAR permitting), there is your happy ending.