Saturday will be the 27th league game the Swans have played behind closed doors since football resumed in June, after the Covid-19 pandemic changed the world earlier this year.
Logging on to Swans TV has become the new norm rather than making the journey to the Liberty, as football has continued without its soul and a lot of the games have simply merged into one.
But this weekend is going to be very different to what we’ve witnessed so far, as the South Wales derby will take place for the first time without fans.
As much as there is some excitement and nerves ahead of this fixture, it’s nowhere near its usual levels and Saturday promises to be a strange day for all concerned.
Gone will be the early start before sunrise to meet at the Liberty for the crawl up the M4 to Cardiff West services before being bussed in hours before kick off, and friends gathering in the local watering hole. Instead it will be watching at home alone or in small groups, listening on the radio or for some those whose partner wears the trousers it’ll be Christmas shopping instead!
This is a fixture I dread I’m being honest. The fear of losing is always at the forefront of my mind, but now the fear of losing is there without all of the things I actually enjoy about derby day.
It’s the getting to the pub with daydream believer on repeat before kick off. It’s the being on the concourse at Legoland with a few pre-match pints with everyone bellowing “we f****** hate Cardiff City”. It’s the nervous tension that can be horrible, but being surrounded by people who feel the same somehow makes it more bearable. It’s making your way up to the stand shortly before kick off when both sets of fans are ferociously chanting and flicking the Vs at each other. And the feeling of hope when the players come out that today could be one of those special days.
Ok I admit once the game starts it’s horrible, every time they’ve got the ball you just can’t relax even when the ball is in their half and it will be the same this weekend.
But if we score in this fixture there’s no feeling like it, bodies flying everywhere and mass pile-ons probably sound absurd to those strange folk who don’t like football, but there’s not many other things that can provide a rush of adrenaline like that and there’s no way that can be replicated from home.
When we’ve won the derby in the past you can’t put a price on those few minutes after the final whistle, when the Jack Army are goading their fans and rubbing it in. In the same way it’s hell on earth when we’ve been on the receiving end of it.
Those facts alone mean if we win it’s unlikely to be as joyous as it usually would be, and a defeat probably won’t be as bad, although I hope the latter isn’t put to the test.
Should we win we won’t be able to celebrate like we usually would, and should we lose there’ll be no one to rant or moan to unless we pick up the phone.
This really is going to be a derby like no other, let’s hope it’s a one off and at least some of us are present for the return match at the Liberty in March.