Sport

The return of fans at Wembley was music to everyone's ears

In a week where those at the very top of our national sport appear to have forgotten what makes English football tick, the return of fans to Wembley for the Carabao Cup final was music to everyone’s ears… it felt like being reunited with an old friend

  • Manchester City beat Tottenham 1-0 in the Carabao Cup final on Sunday
  • Aymeric Laporte scored the only goal of the game in the 82nd minute 
  • 8000 spectators were granted access into Wembley to watch the match

Noise at a football match? This could catch on, you know.

Finally, an atmosphere. Finally, a roar. Finally, supporters are back at football.

The language, granted, left a fair bit to be desired but we wouldn’t have it any other way.

8000 supporters were allowed into Wembley for Sunday’s Carabao Cup final showdown

Eight-thousand spectators were granted access into Wembley for the Carabao Cup final. It may as well have been 80,000.

Okay, perhaps that’s a slight exaggeration but after a season that has been characterised by its mind-numbing silence, we’re all allowed to get carried away.

Because we’ve all missed this – fans goading each other, tormenting their own players, ironically applauding in unison when someone in the opposition gets something horribly wrong.

It all started to feel very familiar; like when you meet a friend you’ve not seen for 10 years but chat away like you saw them last weekend.

Of course, that was far from the case – face masks were compulsory, fans were spaced out to ensure social distancing while supporters had to provide two negative Covid tests before entering plus another after the game.

Face masks were compulsory and fans were spaced out to ensure social distancing

But that was all a minor inconvenience for those lucky enough to have tickets. They have longed for this moment – they were clearly intent on taking full advantage.

Of the 8,000 in situ, both clubs were allocated 2,000 tickets – the remaining 4,000 reserved for local residents and NHS staff.

Last week’s FA Cup semi-final between Leicester and Southampton, which was selected as another Government test event, housed 4,000 spectators made up purely of Brent residents and front line workers.

The two environments were like chalk and cheese. Here at the national stadium on Sunday, the atmosphere was befitting of a showpiece final. The stadium may only have been at less than 10 percent capacity – but you wouldn’t have known.

In contrast, last week’s game was all rather humdrum – though you’d imagine Brendan Rodgers and his players would disagree.

The presence of supporters at the match was like being reunited with an old friend 

In a week where those at the very top of our national sport appear to have forgotten what makes English football tick – this clash was a poignant reminder of what they were prepared to throw away: the fans, their passion, their intensity, their spirit. More fool them.

It was ironic that the two teams contesting Sunday’s final were among the six who showed complete disregard for the traditions woven into the fabric of the English game.

If Manchester City and Tottenham had their way, this would have been played under altogether different auspices next season.

But the supporters had their say; they stepped up. English fans have been the bane of European football for decades.

The reputation isn’t necessarily a false one; their behaviour often leaves plenty to be desired. But, right now, they are the toast of the continent.

Aymeric Laporte scored the only goal of the game with eight minutes of normal time remaining

At Wembley, there weren’t the protests that have symbolised what will forever be etched into our memories as one of the most tumultuous weeks in our game’s recent history.

Fans of Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham made the outrage towards their own club’s attempts to cast aside decades of heritage in favour of the riches of a European Super League crystal clear.

They put their differences aside, they mobilised, they united, they fought. All for the greater good.

Most importantly, they won. On Sunday, Tottenham and Manchester City supporters were just as vociferous.

They made sure they were heard, but for a different cause. And it was music to everyone’s ears.


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