10 October 2020 10:42
THE Adver's sports reporter has his say on life at the County Ground. First thing's first – football without fans *is* nothing. In a purely selfish sense, I did not think football fans being banned from stadiums would be a bad thing at all. I would be able to concentrate on my work without 7,000 fans shouting and singing in my ears, no one would be able to question my player ratings on account of the fact they wouldn't have seen the match, and I would be able to travel to and from games with no hold ups and no issues. whatsoever Perfect.
However, I have learned that actually, I very much miss those things. I miss the noise, I miss the healthy debate, and I miss the moment I tell our photographer, David 'Evso' Evans we will have to leave for Peterborough at 10am because I'm worried we will miss the team news announcement. Of course, I'm joking. We didn't leave until 10:30… Since the restart, games have too often had quiet lulls as the goal-hungry supporters that used to fill the stands no longer propel their team forward in balanced moments. The matches become flat, I have nothing to write about, and it makes me miss the fans even more.
The players do too. I know it can sometimes feel like a cliché, but everyone involved in professional football really wants fans back in the stadium. The players don't know what to do when they score and Wellens doesn't seem to know how to make his team play well for 90 minutes without the Town End. As a Town fan myself, I count myself extremely fortunate to be able to watch my team in person in the current climate. I know Evso does too as he brings you the wonderful shots that litter the back pages of the Adver every week. The above statement is especially true after I had the misfortune to watch Town on iFollow once a few weeks back – and once was enough. I can only apologise to everyone that has to go through that each Saturday and Tuesday when you want to watch Swindon. Hopefully, things will change soon because the County Ground can be a cauldron of noise on certain afternoons and nights – and Richie Wellens' men will be in need of that support this season. I could perhaps argue that the barrage of goals featured in a scratchy start for Town has potentially made up for the absence of excitement that supporters bring on a matchday. But in reality, it hasn't, because football without fans really is nothing. SWINDON Town defender Rob Hunt believes a siege mentality at the County Ground has enabled his side to remain undefeated in League One so far this season. Ahead of AFC Wimbledon's arrival in Wiltshire this afternoon, Town have taken six points from a possible six at home – scoring seven goals in the process. The three goals that have found their way past Matej Kovar have disappointed everyone, according to Hunt, who says there is no better time to correct the lack of clean sheet than in the League One clash with Glyn Hodges' men. Asked why Town have started so well on their own patch this term, Hunt struggled to explain. He said: "I don't know (why things have started so well at home), I think it's just because we think: 'no one is going to beat us here'. "We're going to try and win all of our home games, we're going out there on the front foot and give it our best shot. "You can obviously manage a game better when you're 3-0 up or if you've got a comfortable lead, but that doesn't mean you have to get sloppy. "It's about managing the game in the right areas and at the right times. We can't let them get on the front foot, or we can't sit back and let them come onto us." In contrast, Swindon have fallen to defeat in both of their away league fixtures – going down 2-0 at Blackpool before a 3-1 loss on the road against Peterborough United. The adaptable full-back continued to preach Town's phrase of the season so far – game management – and suggested that if the current trajectory of learning is maintained, Richie Wellens' men will gradually start to pick up more points on their travels. Hunt said: "It's not been the best for us away, but we still could have got a result out of the games. "It's about game management and doing the right things at the right time. In some matches we haven't done that, especially away. "That's something we've got to learn, and learn quickly, so we can put it right in the next game. "But at home, we've started absolutely on fire and we've continued that by scoring the goals early on to give us a half-time lead. "That allows us to manage the game in the second half, so I think that's something we can be doing better away from home. "If we take our chances as well, I think that will see us in good stead."