There are some who claim we shouldn’t even be thinking about football in these times. That’s complete nonsense.
The naysayers can regularly be split into two distinct groups. The first consists of standard keyboard warriors, defecating their diatribe over social media looking to goad a reaction from rival fans. It’s entirely self-motivated; isn’t it strange that we only ever hear “null and void is the only fair solution” from supporters of teams having poor seasons?
The second group, however, is the one worthy of our focus. From an Argyle perspective, there are a few saying the club’s impending promotion to League One isn’t worth celebrating, given the circumstances. Maybe they’ve been shamed into it, or perhaps they genuinely feel that, with everything going on, we shouldn’t be in a position to celebrate some relatively irrelevant success by a few men manoeuvring a bag of air around a field.
The more time one gives that thought, the sadder it becomes. Granted, it would be somewhat contemptible to claim that football ought to trump a global pandemic on our list of priorities. Indeed, despite Bill Shankly’s iconic quote, the beautiful game isn’t nearly as important to be considered a matter of life and death. But isn’t that always the case? Even in comparatively normal times, football is hardly higher on the priorities list than our health, and that of our friends and families.
In that sense, the attitude towards the game ought not to have changed, despite the admittedly extraordinary times we live in. To not celebrate promotion, therefore, would be to refuse to take joy from something that already wasn’t a matter of life and death, before many of us entered a considerably miserable period of our lives. If we do not grant ourselves the right to draw happiness from a game close to our hearts during this sombre time, when on Earth can we?
That’s the primary reason why any claim from Argyle supporters that we shouldn’t be celebrating promotion is a dagger to my heart. In such a bleak period, football supporters unquestionably need a good news story to bring them together. Heck, the human race needs a good news story to bring everyone together. Plymouth Argyle’s impending promotion is, for our community at least, a very good news story. To refuse to commemorate the occasion would be a disservice to the club, the staff, and ultimately ourselves.
There are plenty more practical reasons, aside from the emotional standpoint, as to why this promotion would be a worthy cause upon which to get slightly merry. Ryan Lowe arrived at Home Park with the sole aim of getting the club back up to League One at the first time of asking. He deserves enormous credit should the achievement be confirmed. And if it is, Argyle may well find themselves in an enviable position when compared to other clubs.
Since James Brent took the reigns in the boardroom around a decade ago, Argyle have lived relatively within their means. Save from a few major financial moves (such as the sacking of Derek Adams) and paying off historic debts, the club’s finances have remained relatively balanced, certainly so when compared to a number of direct rivals. Now Brent has moved on, Argyle have in Simon Hallett an owner willing to invest, but with wealth not necessarily connected to any businesses which could fall foul of the current crisis.
The end result? From an entirely cynical point of view, it could put Argyle in a superb situation. While many clubs will undoubtedly be battling merely for survival in the coming months, Argyle’s financial strategy and circumstances could see them emerge a much stronger force. That will be particularly true, of course, if promotion is confirmed. League One football, combined with relative financial security, will provide a substantially solid basis for tempting new players to the club. Who knows how successful Argyle will have been when we’re all permitted back into Home Park?
It’s simply one of many reasons why celebrating promotion is a necessity. As Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp calmly articulated recently, “dealing with the crisis is the most important thing. But that doesn’t mean that certain things are of no importance at all just because they are less important.” As with so much over the past few months, Ryan Lowe’s mate is correct. Football can still be an aspect of life close to our hearts, no matter what.
Is this the way we wanted to win promotion? Of course not. But whilst the moment of euphoria in the ground where everything is confirmed will be taken away from us, all is not lost. Me? I’ve got time on my hands, a few cans chilled in the fridge, and my football club look like they are about to win promotion.
Given everything, things could be a whole lot worse.