King's Lynn Town superfans reflect on life without seeing their team in the flesh
They’ve devoted incalculable hours to the matchday experience just to watch their side.
But like millions of football fans across the country, the coronavirus pandemic has denied them the opportunity of watching their team home and away.
Avid King’s Lynn Town supporters Steve and Yvonne Granger have travelled the length and breadth of the country for more than two decades to watch Lynn – but have now been forced into their own front room to get a piece of the action.
Yvonne, 65, attended her first-ever Linnets match in 1969 and said: “We could have probably had an around the world cruise twice over for what we’ve spent on travelling to football
“We don’t go abroad, we’d rather have weekends and nights away to watch the team. I mean who wouldn’t want to go to Hartlepool on a Tuesday night after work?
“When the fixtures come out the first thing we do is look at the ones which we need to book a Premier Inn for, but we’ve been robbed of that this season.
“Football is a way of life and a Saturday afternoon without it is the worst thing ever. We’ve lost that excitement and expectation with not being able to go.”
Yvonne – a document manager at Gayton Road Health Centre – has only missed three games in more than than 20 years.
And the beautiful game is very much in the family blood with children Polly, 33, and Joe, 36, also huge Lynn fans, while golden retriever Gus has also been known to attend a game or two.
“I’ve been so lucky because if Steve hasn’t been available to take me, both Polly and Joe have rallied round to get me there,” said Yvonne.
During their time supporting the couple have clocked up thousands of miles on the road, seen their club both relegated and promoted and also go out of existence.
Steve said: “I always say if it hadn’t been for one person we wouldn’t be where we are now and that’s Buster Chapman for taking on the club.”
Chapman subsequently sold the club to current owner Stephen Cleeve and, since then, the Grangers – like many other supporters – have been on a rollercoaster ride as the Linnets reached the highest level they’ve ever played at.
“As soon as we got Ian (Culverhouse) I thought would do well because of his work ethic,” admitted Yvonne.
“We will crash and we will enjoy it while we’re here, but it’s just a shame that Covid has got in the way.”
A midweek trip to Gosport three seasons ago saw the Grangers arrive home at 3am while an afternoon kick-off at Cirencester also resulted in an early-morning return.
“We stayed with Ryan Hawkins at the hospital after he badly gashed his leg at Cirencester,” said Steve.
“I think we were there with him for about five hours and it was 12.35am when we eventually got back home and that was for a Saturday afternoon game.”
As well as saving a load of money, the one advantage of not being able to travel away is that the couple, who have made many friends on their non league adventures, can actually get an early night.
“When we play away now we are in bed ten minutes after the final whistle. There’s not many times we’ve been able to say that,” quipped Yvonne.