As a professional footballer whose career spanned 20 years, in which grounds like Stamford Bridge, Anfield and Upton Park were homes, there is one sound that sticks out in Joe Cole’s mind.
“You know you used to hear the click of the wooden seats?” He asks The Independent. “Do you remember that? The “bp-bp-bp-bp-bp”. I used to love that.”
“I used to love the sound when you’re playing, and you get the ball and people get off their feet because you’re dribbling and doing something. You feel it.”
With spectators returning to football grounds across the country this weekend, this aural sensation returns with them. So too the cheers, chants, boos and cursing, Their absence has made the beautiful game feel hollow these last nine months.
For those lucky few in possession of these golden tickets, it will be a return to routine, a welcome opportunity to re-engage with another aspect of normality amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Those coming through the turnstiles will also help bring that normality back to those still watching from afar.