by Ben MacDonald
As Scottish football has made a somewhat kind of return, it is unclear to see just how motivated players are after the prolonged period of lockdown.
As restrictions in Glasgow are still in place, Dennistoun Thistle manager Chris Irving has seen for himself how Coronavirus has taken its toll on some of his side.
When asked if momentum within the amateur team has dropped, Irving answered “to be honest with you, since we came back the atmosphere has just been dead. This is because people don’t know when we’re going to be back. It’s tough because I’ve got quite a lot of egos in the team and they need to be playing.”
Such measures are not in place in the Highlands however, as feelings seem to be different at League Two side Elgin City. By re-signing the entire squad for the new season, Chairman Graham Tatters made sure that the high spirits the side carried before the premature end of season 19/20 continued.
Mr Tatters explained “we took a decision in January/February to try and get as many players signed up because we had what we thought a potentially great squad. We were able to sign 12 of the side and there was a level of camaraderie that continued up until training restarted and we were able to take staff off Furlough. Spirits have continued throughout and I have no worries about team morale and performance.”
When plans were in place to start the Scottish Professional Football Leagues, many clubs began to sell virtual season tickets to allow supporters to continue watching their favourite sides play from the comfort of their own home. Fans of sides like League One’s Forfar Athletic have jumped at the chance of getting to see their team play, and the Loons’ match secretary and director, David McGregor feels that it has given the Station Park outfit a much needed boost.
Mr McGregor says “I feel that it has given the side a bit of a boost. Season ticket sales are up from last season which, when you see that fans aren’t getting into the stands, is exceptional.”
Elgin also offer live streaming packages to their strong band of support, a group who Mr Tatters feels that the Black and Whites are extremely lucky to have.
He continues “I think we are lucky in that we have such an incredible support. It’s like watching Newcastle or Celtic. We have 250-300 people who would come to the stadium just to watch the grass grow. They turn up no matter what the weather is like or who we face and at a League Two level we are so fortunate. We’re one of the best supported teams in the league, if not the best.”
It can be fair to say that one way footballers can maintain a certain level of motivation is the knowledge of having a group of supporters backing them to victory. As semi-professional sides like Forfar and Elgin look forward to continuing their campaigns with a stream of fans paying to follow them digitally, smaller sides like Dennistoun Thistle will be looking on, hoping that they too can carry on playing the sport they love.