IF SOMEONE had predicted what was going to happen in the 2019-20 campaign, you would have said they were barmy.
The season going into shutdown mode for months over a virus, Premier League, Championship and FA Cup fixtures still being played in the middle of summer, divisions being decided on points per game? What nonsense!
But that’s exactly how it’s turned out – and why we’ll still be talking about this seemingly never-ending campaign for years and years to come (if we live to tell the tale, of course).
Back in early March came the first indications that football, just like society itself, might have to ease off the throttle. It was something you almost couldn’t believe – they can’t stop football, can they?
But then it became apparent just how serious a threat the coronavirus really was, though not before the Cheltenham festival and Liverpool v Atletico Madrid in the Champions League snuck through. The true impact of those two sporting events may never be really known.
In mid-March, I remember being in the offices of Late Tackle’s sister publication, The NonLeague Paper. While the Premier League and EFL had fallen by the wayside, there were, bizarrely, National League, National League North and South and Northern Premier League games going ahead.
If there was a picture that perfectly summed up what we were getting into, it was that of an Ebbsfleet fan wearing a protective mask celebrating his side’s 1-0 victory at FC Halifax Town with one of the players, Josh Payne. The world was changing fast.
Soon after, Non-League bowed to the inevitable, too, and football, like pretty much all sport, was off the menu. We were in full lockdown mode and even going out of the house became a luxury.
Our boss decided to put the Football League Paper on hold, but, bravely, decided to keep The Non-League Paper going. Brave considering there were no matches to report on – or likely to be for quite some time.
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