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Football fans: Struggle without the game shouldn't be downplayed

Even though many claim there are too many important things going on to be worrying about football, Blades and Owls fans have revealed to Now Then how the lockdown has taken its toll on their mental health.

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An empty Hillsborough Stadium. Photo by Deejayone (Wikimedia Commons).

Andy Hanselman, 56, a die-hard Sheffield United supporter said he felt there was a huge void with the Premier League being suspended.

He said he was struggling "big time" because the Blades have had a great season and he wanted them to finish on a high note.

"We need to find a way of finishing this season off, even if that means delaying the next one," he said. "The Christmas World Cup next year might help with scheduling.

"We can't let the season that could have seen the mighty Blades entering into Europe just disappear. That would be a travesty."

Hanselman said apart from the game itself he was missing the socials with his fellow supporters before and after matches in the pub.

Pubs, an essential part of British football culture, have been shut since 20 March and all professional and amateur sports leagues have been suspended indefinitely, leaving fans without live sports for weeks if not months.

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Data from the Office for National Statistics.

As part of the lockdown measurements in the UK strict bans have been implemented to help stop the spread.

According to the latest ONS survey, the lockdown has already taken its toll on the British public. Seven out of ten people feel worried about the future, 65 per cent are stressed and anxious, and almost every third person is feeling lonely.

Some might think football is not a priority when thousands are dying every week, but it's crucial to talk about those locked in their apartments whose only opportunity to make contact with others is to get to the pub on match days.

As long as the lockdown is in full swing, they're all alone. A solution might be to find substitutes, such as joining a Zoom call, watching archive matches or playing football games.

All of our interviewees agreed that it's hard to find one magic way to cope as everybody is affected differently.

Dylan Wilby, 26, who is a Sheffield Wednesday fan, said he knew how hard life is without football as he had had a routine which he has completely departed from recently.

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An empty Bramall Lane. Photo by Mark Hawksworth (Wikimedia Commons).

"I'd watch the Premier League at the weekend, put Wednesday's games on the radio, sit down to Match of the Day and watch Champions League on a weeknight," he told Now Then.

He added that he was missing the social side of the game too. "Football makes up a lot of the interactions I have with friends and family over social media as well. I've found not being able to hang out really hard and football is a part of that."

Matthew Southcott, 33, a United supporter, said: "Days without football are tough.

"The traditional nature of going to games involves meeting friends you wouldn't usually see and getting that pre-match anticipation buzzing in pubs. Nothing replaces actual real life, in-the-flesh experiences, and we're all seeing and feeling that now in general - the same applies to football."

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