06:30PM, Wednesday 15 December 2021
Holyport captain Daniel Rapley.
Holyport FC’s Sam Lock admits there are rumblings of concern among non-league football clubs that another season could be severely disrupted by COVID-19, and in particular the Omicron variant.
The past two seasons below step 2 have been curtailed because of lockdown restrictions, but it was hoped that with a significant proportion of the population vaccinated, this season would be played out with minimal disruption.
However, with clubs like Maidenhead United postponing matches due to positive COVID cases, and games in the Premier League also being called off, there are concerns that if the current COVID protocols fail to curb the virus another non-league season might just bite the dust.
“I am a bit worried, to be fair, about the whole COVID situation now,” he said.
“Speaking to lots of people involved in football, there is a big concern regarding positive cases and what’s going to happen really.
“There are two or three Premier League games that have been cancelled and, if that is happening at that level, what on Earth is going to happen lower down the pyramid.
“People just need to follow the protocols, be careful, keep distanced, and wear masks. Nobody wants to have a break, but I have a feeling something could happen now.”
Lock wouldn’t welcome a break or a suspension of the league, believing football is vital for his and many others’ mental well-being. He is also hoping the season will not be cancelled just when Holyport have run into a little form and are starting to give supporters some real entertainment.
They remain bottom of the Combined Counties Premier Division North but have shown of late they can get the results they need to get themselves out of trouble.
They are due to sign off the year with a trip to Egham Town this Saturday before hosting league leaders, Hanworth Villa, on Monday, December 27.
“I think for everyone’s mental health, you need to keep the sport going,” said Lock.
“I am feeling a little bit of déjà vu. Things are just building up again, and with the new variant – well people don’t quite understand it.
“Maybe if we were told we cannot use changing rooms or something like that, I don’t know – but there are things they can do to keep it going.
“You can feel the worry on social media and see it going on in person. I know there are lots of positive cases in schools and with the break coming up and schools shutting, that might help a little bit. But we need our festive football definitely.”
Lock added: “You need that little break out the house, especially around Christmas-time. We’ve got a game on the 18th, and we’ve got a game on the 27th. They will be against two teams in the top spots of the league. It’s exciting for us and we’re going to give it a real go.”
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