So I have just bought away tickets for what will be my first game for nearly 2 years.
Before lockdown, my life revolved around football. I was home and away. Every weekend.
I would travel the country with the same group of lads. Beers on a train no matter the time of day. Without football there has been a huge whole in my life.
From seeing the same close mates every weekend for nearly 10 years to hardly seeing them at all due to various lockdowns.
And it is not just the people you travel with that you miss.
Any reader who has regularly done away games will know you recognise faces and make mates far beyond your own group.
Whether it is someone you stand in the concourse with when having a beer, that bloke you only ever seem to meet in the toilet, the fella whose name you do not know, or that bloke you have spent 5 years nodding and mouthing “alright” to but have never actually spoken too.
I miss the early starts. Getting to the station at 6am for a lunchtime kick off. Cracking that beer open and getting dirty looks from normal commuters.
I have missed those train journeys. The beers drunk. The banter on the way up and down.
I have missed heading into a random pub. Commenting on the price of beer (either really cheap or really expensive depending on what town or city you are in). That walk to the ground; often keeping your head down.
I have always preferred being an away fan than a home fan. That feeling in a ground that everyone is against you. Attacked on both sides and you have your brothers either side and in front backing you. All in it together.
And coming out the grounds, win lose or draw before heading back to a pub and getting a train back.
Back home, heading straight to a pub to unwind and discuss what happened. Then someone comments we have been drinking for 12 hours (or 16 if it is Newcastle away). So it is home time. Prepared for a hangover tomorrow.
The first few games will probably be tinged with a hint of sadness as you find out people you know have passed away in the last 18 months. Raise a beer for them. Sing their name on the terrace. They might be gone but not forgotten.
So the first away tickets are secured and I am already bang up for the game even though it is more than a week away.
The excitement of returning to football will only increase over the next 7 days. I can’t fucking wait.