FAN-TASTIC: Ecstasy as supporters return to Scottish grounds

Image Credit: Tom Fisk via Pexels

By Massimo Castelli

As the 2021/22 season gets underway in all Scottish Football leagues, fans for the first time in 18 months have been able to get back to stadiums and see their teams in action, as Covid-19 restrictions have eased. 

Four fans have given their opinions on the recent return to games with Rangers fan Lewis, Celtic fan Ross, St Mirren Fan Robbie and Dunfermline AFC supporter Ben voicing their experiences at these opening few fixtures.     

Within Glasgow two of Scottish footballs biggest teams, Celtic and Rangers have opened their doors wide to fans. With Rangers in their opening league fixture having an attendance of 23,000 people at Ibrox and, Celtic in their first home game against Dundee FC having a crowd of 24,000 fans present at Parkhead.

As things have begun to return to somewhat normality many fans have had their own unique experiences at these post Lockdown matches. When asked if the atmosphere at games has changed 24-year-old Rangers season ticket holder Lewis said:  

“I don’t feel any difference, I don’t really think people are so ‘scared’ of Covid at the football.” 

In Contrast 20-year-old Celtic fan Ross Peffers felt like the atmosphere at Park Head has improved massively. He said: “The Atmosphere feels better. This might be due to fans feeling the need to make up for lost time over the last 2 years.”

In terms of whether they felt safe surrounded by other fans and lessened restrictions both Lewis and Ross agreed that the conditions within Ibrox and Park head respectively have been secure and safe.

 “Things like social distancing in bathrooms etc is virtually non-existent but other than that I have had no issues at the football with safety, Covid or otherwise,” said 19-year-old St Mirren Fan Robbie Beggs adding that he felt very safe while attending games in some of the smaller capacity Scottish football stadiums.

In the 2nd division of Scottish football, Dunfermline Athletic Fan Ben suggested that the euphoria might not be felt the same by everyone. He said: “It comes down to each individual, as some people will still feel anxious about going out into crowded spaces.”

Ross believes that his team has been on top form from the first few games of the season with fans being back making all the difference: “Absolutely, it’s brilliant to get back. I go with my dad, so it makes memories of a lifetime for me.” 

Lewis said that although there has been “a pretty good buzz” in the stadium, he believes that fans returning to matches has had no impact on his team’s performance: “Although Rangers are off form, I feel it’s a myth that the [away] fans put them off.”

Robbie’s experience of being back at live games has also been a positive one for his health: “It’s been a big boost to my mental health, I hadn’t been for a few years but due to a few changing circumstances I decided to get back into it and I really don’t regret it. 

“I’ve made new friends and got old friends back to enjoying the football as they should. It’s a miracle cure.”

Dunfermline Athletic fan Ben has followed his team to most of this season’s games, posting match recaps and reflections about them on his YouTube Channel Ben1885. He has so far amassed 5.28k subscribers who all tune in to hear him talk about Dunfermline’s performances so far this season.

“The atmosphere was good the first couple of games as fans appreciated being back,” Ben said: “It’s highly dependent on team performance, though. From my own experience, as my team, Dunfermline has had a tricky start to the season, the atmosphere has dwindled a bit. Fans are still expecting results, regardless of the 18-month break from live football matches.”

**This story was originally published as part of our digital Freshers 2021 edition on 20/09/2021. Read the full edition here.**