Gary Johnson: We bucked the trend on Saturday with our 1-0 win over Stockport

Gary Johnson celebrates after the Guulls' victory over Stockport County on Saturday. Photo: Dave Cra

Gary Johnson celebrates after the Guulls' victory over Stockport County on Saturday. Photo: Dave Crawford/PPAUK - Credit: Dave Crawford/PPAUK

I think many of us are up to ‘here’ with statistics after the last six months of the Covid-19 pandemic, and I know you can make them prove anything sometimes. But an extra one caught my eye at the weekend.

In 33 games across the EFL, only 14 were home wins.

Nine were away wins and ten were draws, and I’m wondering whether the lack of fans in the grounds has a lot to do with it.

You can see psychologically why that would be.

First, there’s no help for the home side from their own supporters.

Second, there’s no crowd pressure on the away team at all - it’s easier for them to relax and play their game.

And third, referees aren’t put under any pressure by home fans.

Most Read

I know refs are supposed to be strong enough to handle ‘stick’ from crowds but it’s only human nature for them to feel it at times. I think we’ve all seen home crowds influence decisions over the years!

It will be interesting to see if future results follow the same pattern. If they do, I’m sure empty stadiums will have played a part.

As it happened, the National League bucked the trend on Saturday, and our 1-0 win over Stockport was one of seven home wins in ten matches.

I’m not sure what that proves, but the result chuffed me, because our crowd is usually a big factor for us, and I know they would have helped us in a difficult match.

We showed that we had the mental strength to keep going and win it with a late goal, even without our fans behind us. I stressed the importance of that to our lads after the game.

From a situation only a week or two ago, when everyone was thinking we might not even start the season, we’re up and running - thanks to two important factors.

One, live TV ‘streaming’ has been a fantastic tool in the current circumstances.

Credit to our club, and many others, for getting it going early.

I’m told that our coverage of the Stockport game was a good show, and it was great to hear that we had fans from all over the world watching.

Supporters in places like Australia, Japan and North America tuned in, something that wouldn’t have happened normally - a big bonus.

Two, the Government grant of £10 million for the National League over the first three months of the season is a lifeline for many clubs.

I think my views on where the National League stands in the football ‘pyramid’, financially and in the structure, are well known, and it’s great that the Government has recognised it.

We haven’t heard who will get what yet. Different clubs stand to lose different amounts with no crowds, and you can bet that some chairmen will be happier than others when their ‘cheques’ come through!

But it has kept football on the go for now, and our clubs seem reasonably happy that they can make it work with the TV ‘streaming’ and the money back for loss of earnings.

Of course, the next step is for the virus figures to come down and the Government to start letting fans back. Hopefully, everyone will feel it’s safe to do that sooner rather than later.

We’d all love it to happen in time for the Christmas and New Year games, which for us include my old club Yeovil Town at Plainmoor on Boxing Day.

Fingers crossed - and stay safe.