Friendly offers brief escape from Covid uncertainty for King's Lynn Town and their fans
Downham Town 0 King's Lynn Town 5
Jock Stein’s famous quote of “Football without fans is nothing” couldn't be more pertinent in such times of uncertainty across the globe.
On Tuesday night, a crowd of 300 were allowed in at the Memorial Field as Downham Town hosted King's Lynn Town, but Lynn and their supporters, like the rest of the Step 1 and 2 non-league fraternity, remain in the dark about what happens next.
What happened on the pitch was irrelevant as Linnets fans painstakingly pondered when they will next see their team in the flesh at The Walks.
As it currently stands, Downham, plying their trade at Step 6, can welcome crowds to games whereas Step 1 Lynn can't.
While Downham are awaiting news on what happens going forward, the writing is already on the wall for Lynn as it is for their more illustrious counterparts in the Premier League. No fans can be allowed in - and potentially for six months,
But forget the bright lights of the Premier League, the non-league game, as last night's meeting between these two near-neighbours illustrated, is far, far different.
Although the audience is far smaller, the need for all forms of income is higher and the relationship between fan and club is a lot more personal.
Football is built on fans, if they are not allowed in, the house of cards will implode.
The investment made by non-league fans comes in the form of attachment and loyalty in leaps and bounds.
This is unless, of course, there is a fund that fans contribute to bolster finances to help their favourites compete at the highest possible level.
But regardless of the ownership structure, a club can quickly fall from grace without its supporters and income coming through the turnstiles.
The club needs its fans as much as the loyal, die-hard from a close-knit community needs his or her fix of the beautiful game.
This is so very relevant at non-league level because a club, in order to be relevant to its community, must have critical mass in terms of people that care, whether it's the volunteers behind the scenes or people coming through the turnstiles.
For a club to be starved of its lifeline – the supporters – is very dangerous and is likely to lead to extinction through all levels of the non-league pyramid.
What was evident on Tuesday, that both these clubs remain an integral part of their communities.
As expected, the Linnets emerged comfortable winners on a night to celebrate the new partnership between the two clubs, but only after their Thurlow Nunn First Division North hosts tired in the last of three 30-minute periods.
Sam Kelly opened the scoring in the A10 derby before Dayle Southwell doubled Lynn's advantage from the penalty spot midway through the contest.
Sonny Carey helped himself to a brace after coming on from the bench before Ross Barrows wrapped things up from distance in the dying seconds of the match.