21 photos that sum up why we all desperately miss football

Quick Reads

We asked Dan Kendall to share some of his favourite photos about what he misses during the lockdown. He could write a dozen of these articles. He misses the whole thing.

Here though, are 21 of the little things about football that he’s pondering at the minute, off the top of his head and in no particular order.

Think of these like squad numbers.

1. Liverpool not being Liverpool

Let’s get it out of the way shall we? Will they finally do it? More to the point, will they be allowed to do it?

I’ve enjoyed Liverpool being decidedly non-Liverpool this last couple of years. There has been no Gerrard slip, no “talking about the facts” or indeed, no corners thrown in against Coventry.

This season Liverpool have been, Watford away aside, an efficient, German-engineered gegenpressing machine.

Surely the stars will align? Won’t they? They won’t be allowed to finish the season with this….

2. Goals

Right, now we’ve covered that, let’s get to the goals.

Why aren’t we all happy at home watching Coronation Street? Because no one has ever seen Gail Platt curl one into the top bin. That’s why.

They are the best bit, aren’t they? Who cares how they go in.

3. Crunching tackles

I like a goal as much as the next man, but I’m also quite partial to a crunching tackle. A good old non-league slider. The ones that make a big ‘boom’ noise and then the crowd start applauding the lad for “getting stuck in”.

It’s a contact sport ref…

4. Sunderland being Sunderland

Here we go…“on the river where they used to build the boats” – my first week of lockdown was made infinitely more bearable thanks to Sunderland being on Netflix.

I haven’t bothered with ‘Juventus – First Team’ or that shiny one that Amazon did on City. Who wants to watch that? Nah, get the popcorn out and watch the Maja transfer saga. Watch the price for Danny Graham go up and up and up.

I love Sunderland. Incredible fans who have shown me nothing but perfect hospitality when I’ve been up there. I sincerely hope they find their way back to the top…..but not just yet, because the TV is bloody brilliant.

5. Routine

So what about matchdays themselves? Well I miss the match itself obviously, but I also miss the routine. Working in football means I find myself all over the place, but when I do go and watch my team, it’s against a well-worn timetable.

I’m sure everyone is the same. The usual pub or coffee shop. The same car park. The same fish and chip shop with the same order at quarter to five. The same walk to the ground with the same set of lads.

In this case, the obligatory brew.

6. Celes

Everybody loves a celebration. If I had a time machine I’d go back and take pictures of Lee Sharpe and the ‘Sharpie Shuffle’ or him singing like Elvis into the corner flag.

I was told once that sports desks only care about pictures of goals and cels. As a result I’ve got plenty. I love this one though. Big smiles all round. They won the league this year. What a bunch of lads.

7. That one in the crowd

There is always (at least) one and long may that continue.

8. Belonging

It does make you feel part of something this football lark. Part of something ‘Special’. (See what I did there?)

9. Fodder

I’m a pie man myself. You know where you are with a pie. No surprises.

Unless I’m at Crewe, and then I’m straight in the famous Gresty Road Chippy.

This was the last day of the season in League One. Preston looking to go up and Crewe looking to stay up. High stakes on the pitch, fishcakes all round off it.

10. Away days

Speaking of Crewe. I really miss an away day.

Always by train. Always train beers, although I’ve seen lads with a cheeky tin of G&T from M&S. It’s out there.

There is no better feeling than getting off in a new town, diving into a boozer and seeing where the day takes you.

11. Beers

Great double acts. Laurel & Hardy, Morecambe & Wise, Marks & Spencer, Shearer & Sheringham…football & beers. Timeless.

12. Anoraks & Stattos

I’m partial to a football stat. The answer is invariably Jesper Gronkjaer.

I always buy a programme, and if I visit a new ground then I buy a pin badge. I’ve a wardrobe full of old kits and a cupboard full of mugs from random teams. Teamsheets still warm off the printer are a highlight.

My football tat collection hasn’t had a new addition for a while. Ebay might take a battering after posting this.

13. Stadiums that take your breath away

Say what you like about modern football but when a stadium development is done properly, the results are stunning. The atmosphere can be electric. What Tottenham have done is top notch and it’s been a highlight of the last 12 months.

They’ve built a world class stadium but they’ve also built it as near as damn on the same spot as the old one. They’ve committed to the neighbourhood where they have always played despite it being undoubtedly cheaper and easier to go north and outside the M25.

Hopefully the area of Tottenham will see a boost as a result.

14. Old grounds that take you back

But I still miss the old grounds. The terraces with the tin shed roofs and smell of cigar smoke and Bovril. The away ends in people’s back gardens.

We are losing York’s Bootham Crescent this year as well as Brentford’s Griffin Park. I hope we get one more chance to visit these two after all this has finished.

15. Smell of the grass

“If God had wanted us to play football in the clouds, he would have put grass up there” – Brian Clough

What more can you say?

16. Floodlights

How good are night games? I could write a whole article just on those. The town is different under the lights. The game somehow just edgier, more exciting.

If we are going to end up playing through summer, then 7:45pm kick offs just have to happen. I for one am fine with that.

17. Limbs

Ah, scenes with limbs. Away ends full of arms in the air or in each others faces. How long before we get to see those again? Social distancing is going to go out the window when those last minute winners go in.

18. Clobber

I’ve got a bit of thing for brightly coloured trainers with three stripes on them. You’ve got to have a decent pair of those. Oh, and a jacket. Everybody is into a good jacket.

Clobber spotting at football is a definite highlight. Here I managed to catch a lad who had coordinated his Adidas with the stand. Decent, that.

19. Characters

The game is full of them and long may it continue. I’m less interested in whether a player is any good at football and more about how much of a card they are.

I haven’t got any of Gazza or Jimmy Bullard but here’s Akinfenwa brushing another poor lad aside at a set piece. Beast Mode on. What a man.

20. Champions League music

City won’t like this, but Champions League Tuesdays on ITV were a big part of my misspent youth.

On that basis, I do miss this.

I’ve been to Champions League matches when the pre-match is the best. You know when they get all the ball boys out to shake the tarpaulin that it’s going to go off.

THE CHAAAAAMMMMMPPPPPPPIIIIIIOOOOOONNNNNSSSSS! BAH BAH BAH BAH.

21. Family

I took this while the Leeds fans were singing ‘Marching on Together’ before kick off. The dad picked his daughter up. You could sense he was saying, ‘This is the best bit!’

I’ve got kids myself and got a game in just after Christmas. The first time I had attempted one with the two of them on my own. It was freezing and each child had a Disney-themed rucksack full of clothing accessories, snacks and soft toys.

I didn’t know which one to watch, which way to look. They were under the seats or down the aisles!

We missed the first goal and left at 85 minutes. We had five toilet stops. The walk home involved carrying one of them on my shoulders and the other under my arm for about two miles.

Surprisingly, they both said they liked it.

Will be doing it again when all this is over? Absolutely. I can’t bloody wait. That day will come.

Dan Kendall is a football photographer, writer and undoubtedly one of the good guys. You can see more of his work on Instagram at @dkfootballphoto. He’s also the brains behind our What Makes A Club series.


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