‘An emotional night’: fans applauded on return to English football stadiums
Wycombe boss Gareth Ainsworth leads the praise for supporters
A lap of honour and applause at a football match are usually reserved for triumphant players and managers. However, at Adams Park in Wycombe the roles were reversed as it was the fans who also received the adulation.
After 266 days fans have returned to English football stadiums and on Wednesday night more than 10,000 were welcomed across six games in the Championship, League One and League Two, Sky Sports reports. Only clubs located in Tier 1 and Tier 2 can allow a limited number of fans inside their grounds.
Speaking ahead of this week’s fixtures EFL chair Rick Parry said it was an “important first step”. He told Sky Sports: “We’re all delighted and frankly excited. It’s been a very, very long time coming, we’ve had many challenges along the way and there was a time when we were all thinking it might not happen this side of Christmas, but it’s a very welcome and a very important first step.
Choirboys celebrate - despite losing 1-0
Wycombe were promoted to the Championship having won last season’s League One play-off final against Oxford United. But due to Covid-19 restrictions fans were unable to enjoy the big match at Wembley Stadium.
Wednesday’s game against Stoke was the first time that the Choirboys and their fans were able to celebrate the promotion. There was 1,000 in attendance and even though his side were beaten by a single goal, Wycombe manager Gareth Ainsworth “beamed broadly even in defeat”, the BBC reports.
Ainsworth did his lap of the pitch before the game to applaud the club’s fans - and they responded with a standing ovation for their gaffer.
“This was fantastic,” he said. “It was great to see them back home and the players were fantastic as well. We won a throw-in in the first minute and they cheered like it was a goal. It was eight months of frustration, desire and need coming out in that moment.
“It was an emotional night because we’ve been away so long. There has been a promotion in there so it was fantastic to share this night even though we lost. It was an emotional moment for me walking around the pitch at the start.
“It was a joy to see supporters back here with us. They were outstanding before, during and after the game and we can’t wait to have more of them here with us.”