How I’ve missed that.
The sound of the turnstile as you push your way through the least covid-safe entranceway possible. The murmur of the crowd in anticipation of a match. The thud of a damp football being skidded along a slick surface. The echo of heavy rain driving on the metal roof. The joy of having a shared experience with people, actual people.
This season has been memorable. The disastrous start to the season, the owner attempting to sell the land, the covid breaks, injury after injury and the tragedy of Lee Collins. Last night was memorable for all of the right reasons. To be back at Huish Park, surrounded by familiar faces (a row further forward than normal) was the teaser of normality that many of us have craved.
The performance was good, I think? I mean, I enjoyed the game. I thought we played well and looked comfortable. But it didn’t really matter. The point was 1500 of us got to watch our team in a competitive match for the first time in 444 days.
Last night, I learned that a stream doesn’t do our players justice. The connection between a players genuine effort and drive is totally lost from behind a screen. Charlie Lee could have had that performance two weeks ago and it would have been fine. But to see it in person – his determination, his running, his quality – reminded me what being a supporter is all about.
Carl Dickinson, totally imperious last night, was winding up his winger incessantly. That was one of his final two matches at Huish Park and he absolutely revelled in it.
Josh Neufville got an applause like no other after his substitution. That was an outpouring of gratitude for being our standout performer since joining. He’s a highlight of our season and we’re only just able to give him the genuine appreciation he deserves.
The electricity of Knowles. Darren Sarll has been hyperbolic about Tom Knowles ability and he’s that player who starts to get the seats rumbling as he picks up the ball. He wants to make things happen and he’s going to be great to watch next season.
And the 4th minute. What a moment. If you listed a top ten moments at Huish Park that would have to be in it. The appreciation we’ve been yearning to show. To show each other what Lee Collins meant to us all. We’re still a club in grieving, but for the game to stop for applause across the pitch put a lump in my throat. Seeing Adam Smith wipe away the tears and Lee’s colleagues take a pause to feel that moment was something else.
It was an absolute pleasure to be back at Huish Park last night, supporting a team that’s been going it alone since March 2020. While we might have forgotten what that connection between players and supporters felt like through this torrid time, just a minute inside the stadium brought it all back again.