WELL I never thought I would ever think, let alone write, the fact that I actually missed the long drive up to Carlisle last weekend.

This football without fans is really starting to get me down. It is not just about the 90 minutes on the pitch, but rather the whole experience of the event.

The arranging of timing, who is going to drive etc and then the day arrives.

Blurry eyed wake-up at 5am, the split second asking yourself just why you are waking at such an hour on a Saturday, but these thoughts are quickly banished and you roll in to the car.

Then there is the trip itself, the chatting about how our week has been, the bets we have put on and how much we are going to win on our sure-fire predictions.

There's the healthy motorway breakfasts (as we all know calories do not count on the weekends) and as we get closer to the ground, the talk turns to line-ups and all the build up of how we think the game will pan out.

Arriving, meeting friends for a pre-match pint, entering the ground with the anticipation of what is to come. Then the 90 minutes of action plays out.

We get caught up in the emotion, almost like we are kicking the ball ourselves. Then suddenly it is over, back in the car for the trip home.

The banter about how these bets maybe were not as good as we thought eight hours ago, the debates about what we would have done differently and how the match went.

My pal Nick will then have a good rant about VAR before falling asleep for the remainder of the journey.

Now this to the outsider might seem like a very strange way to spend a Saturday, just to watch a football match.

But as we all know, it is so much more than that; it is a passion, a religion and a way of life for us. It is like a drug that we have to get our fix from.

Unless you have experienced it, it is hard to understand. But being unable to attend is having a detrimental effect on people’s mental health and well-being.

Some work all week for Saturday; not just the actual game, but all the other bits that make the experience and allow them interaction with others on similar wavelengths.

It is not the same watching it on TV or whichever streaming service you choose, this does not replicate the match day buzz.

We need football as fans, just as much as football needs its fans - it is a circle that both parties are equally as committed to, something that, maybe, was not as obvious to all until it was taken from us.

With COVID not going away anytime soon, and all these mixed messages about what we can and cannot do, it is time for someone in Government to make the call and allow us back.

Why some indoor events are allowed yet our beautiful game is still closed to those who long to return is lost on me.

Now I know that I’ve not really talked about the actual game on Saturday at Carlisle, but sitting at home watching it really got me thinking about the points above and what I really miss.

While the result may not have gone our way, there are positives, like clawing back to 2-2 from 2-0 down and Luke Norris getting his brace on a long overdue return to the line-up.

We have two home games in a row now and there is no reason why we cannot get maximum points and keep touch with the teams at the top. Up the U’s.