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Coventry City 1 v 2 Swansea City
SkyBet Championship
Tuesday, 2nd November 2021 Kick-off 19:45
Tonight’s game is so special, but we need a moment of reflection
Tuesday, 2nd Nov 2021 09:27 by Keith Haynes

It’s going to be a thrilling game tonight at a rejuvenated Coventry City. Two teams who like to dominate the football, Coventry with their free scoring Viktor Gyökeres, and Swansea City with Joel Piroe up top means tonight there will be goals. That’s an expectation. There are others.

These are the games we love, the night time fixtures that aren’t so much cold, but they have that smell of burning wood in the air. Wrapped up yes, tonight’s temperatures will drop to 6c, which makes the encounter even more exciting. The atmosphere always goes up a notch for these fixtures, a dark sky lit up by those stadium floodlights, yes, that for all of us brings a shudder and an element of expectation.

I’ve been to many night games across Europe, none come close to that feeling of expectancy and rawness that a British football fixture gives you. We feel it at Swansea as much as they do in Coventry. Two established football clubs with similar histories, similar supporters, and in the main a fervent passion for their teams. Yes, we can show disdain towards our club, but don’t you dare do the same, that’s our club, you know what I mean ?

The first fireworks of the season set off by a bunch of kids on a nearby road, the powder fuses in to the night air, a loud bang, the stadium lights a way off yet, there’s the pub, here’s the welcome, your friends are here, and the expectation is palpable. Chips, pies and expectation, the latter ingredient is always there when you go to a night game. The hot food slides down easily, your choice of liquids, be it beer or otherwise, we all feel the same. We remember too our friends no longer here, those who loved the same feelings of a game that you do still. At this time of year especially we remember those who no longer travel with us.

You know that click of the turnstile ?

That’s a noise that is heard all over the country. The handing over of money or a ticket, a click and your in. The food is ahead of you, and the stairs that lead up to the pitch, grey bricked with yellow paint guide you upwards. The vision of the bright green grass greets you with even brighter lights allowing a butterfly or two to take over. The chants are heard, the night air is felt, as the colours all come in to view. Home or away it’s the same excitement and feeling of apprehension. Your senses are in overdrive.

For just a few hours the absurdity of life, be that finance, illness or the madness of our lives today can be forgotten. A release from the norm, and of course an escape from the overpowering situations thrust upon us are gone. Here we will find brethren, common causes, folks of the same tribe and people with the same feelings of emotion. That’s football, Sky can’t replicate it, and only you know what it feels like. That’s yours, it’s free.

And that’s special.

That’s why tonight’s fixture in a league below the glare of the so called big teams and stadiums is a rare thing to behold. The time of year, the circumstances, and the feeling of the times will be your memory tonight. Of course we have many other midweek football nights you care to remember as well, but this one, yes this one is special. Everything thrust in to the same bag, all the things we do before and after the game are a mixture of the memories we hold. This is the reason we recall these nights, a multiple of circumstances laid bare for you to choose from and lock away in your head for life.

The feeling.

These nights are special, and nobody can ever take them away from your recollections, and tonight more memories will be made. Mostly good, sometimes bad, but the theatre you attend this day is not scripted, it has no real plan of action, and it relies on you to be a part of the outcome. That’s the beauty of football, it doesn’t work without you, and it certainly doesn’t survive without you either.

Your experiences are raw, your memories are yours, and no executive box or special entrance can replace a wet plastic seat, a half warm pie and an atmosphere no other contest can reproduce. We know why we go, but there are many who will never know, and that’s a secret between us all, and the best kept one I know.

That’s football, and it’s been the same for years, and will be the same for years to come.

Keith Haynes has written for numerous publications and has a variety of football books available on the Amazon network.

Photographs licensed from Reuters

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