It’s not looking too clever is it?
And that’s not just talking about the depressing coronavirus figures of late. But as this is a sports column, let’s focus on one aspect of local sport that has been massively affected by the pandemic – grassroots football.
In March 2020 when the first lockdown came into effect, all non-elite football (below the National League North/South, level six of the national pyramid) was suspended.
Within weeks it was confirmed those seasons had finished and they would be declared null and void. This meant all results were scrapped and promotion and relegation could not be enforced.
Fast-forward to January 2021 and we’re back in another national lockdown – possibly the third but who even knows any more? Yet one thing is clear, some big decisions are potentially looming for the local football scene.
At this stage last year, Downham Town had played 22 Thurlow Nunn League Division One North matches. This time around, they’ve played 11. It’s hardly a surprise given the delayed start to the season and the number of matches that have been postponed due to coronavirus issues and the tier system that was in place prior to the latest round of restrictions.
Boris Johnson’s suggestion of a mid-February easing of the lockdown provides some hope but chances of seasons being completed by the end of May still look almost non-existent.
The fixture pile-up doesn’t bear thinking about and if sport can resume, it’s unfair to think cricket, which missed out in 2020, will step aside to allow football to finish. So what options are on the table?
Given all leagues including the Thurlow Nunn, Anglian Combination and North West Norfolk have played fewer games than they did when they were scrapped at the premature end of 2019/20, it’s more than reasonable to suggest null and void is the answer once again.
Heacham may have been promoted to Division One of the Ang Com but the rest of the local scene didn’t see much movement. So why should it be different this time around?
There’s been some theories that a points-per-game model across the last two seasons might be used, which probably carries more weight than PPG being considered to decide this even shorter campaign.
There’s still lots of questions and plenty of possible answers. The sad fact is a decision may have to be found long before another ball has been kicked in anger.
Busy days coming for the Linnets
While the non-elite scene is being dragged through the pandemic kicking and screaming, it’s a different story for elite football.
As other local clubs have been left kicking their heels at times, King’s Lynn Town have been able to continue playing thanks to their elite status.
Unlike the first national lockdown, which affected all levels, no suspension was announced for the top six tiers of the country’s beautiful game during Monday’s statement from the Prime Minister.
So it’s not just only business as usual for the likes of Manchester United and the Premier League, it’s exactly the same right down from the Championship and Norwich to the level below the Linnets.
Ian Culverhouse’s side haven’t played in the league since December 12 thanks to Covid-19-based postponements and will be playing every Saturday and Tuesday for weeks as a result.
It’s going to be a hectic spell but one that will be pivotal in whether Lynn can maintain their National League status.
Lambert exit a big setback
It’s not a huge shock.
But the announcement that Robert Lambert will not be riding for King’s Lynn Stars this season is a huge setback for the club in more ways than one.
I first interviewed ‘Ruthless’ as a top talent while he was at secondary school. The family had photographer Ian Burt and I round with open arms. He leaves a man and one of the finest racers in Britain and it’s been an honour to watch him grow up.
Lambert’s exit is not only a setback for Lynn – he simply puts bums on seats as one of the most exciting racers – it’s a monumental blow for British speedway. One of their shining lights will not be at the tapes, if they come up in 2021.
The problem is you can’t blame the
22-year-old. Poland is where the world’s best racers do battle in league action and it will keep him sharp for his maiden Grand Prix campaign.
The European champion will no doubt earn more money and, coronavirus rules pending, compete in front of larger crowds.
Once Poland’s authorities said that their club’s riders can only line up in one other league, it left Lambert with a tough choice. That choice saw him choose Sweden over the UK.
It’ll be strange not seeing him at the Adrian Flux Arena. He’s been there at senior level since he was 16. But this is sadly the best decision for him as he looks to make his mark on the biggest stage in 2021.