The Covid-19 pandemic brought sport to a grinding halt last March and when it did resume, it looked very different.
Supporters have largely been shut out for the last 12 months. Even with the restrictions, there have been plenty of memorable moments that have happened behind closed doors, so here’s a run down of the best bits fans were deprived of witnessing in person.
Leeds United’s return to the Premier League was undoubtedly one of the biggest stories to emerge during the end of last season.
Sections of the Whites fan base congregated at Elland Road on July 17 as Huddersfield Town’s win over West Bromwich Albion confirmed Leeds’ return to the big time after a 16-year absence.
They became Championship winners without kicking a ball following Brentford’s defeat against Stoke City. The inside of Elland Road was empty as the players lifted the trophy in their final game of the season, a 4-0 win over Charlton Athletic. Subsequently, supporters missed their first game back in the Premier League as they lost 4-3 in a thrilling game against champions Liverpool at Anfield. What an atmosphere that would have been.
Harrogate Town were promoted to the Football League for the first time in their history, a remarkable feat which took place in an empty Wembley Stadium.
Simon Weaver’s men defeated Notts County 3-1 with an imperious display. George Thomson, Connor Hall and Jack Diamond scored the goals that sent them into the EFL.
The fixture marked 365 days since Harrogate began their 2019-20 season with a 2-2 draw at Solihull Moors. Few could have imagined that exactly a year later, their campaign would have ended in the remarkable manner it did.
An injury-time winner from Clarke Odour ensured Barnsley pulled off the greatest of escapes last season. Away to Brentford, the Tykes needed a win and other results to go their way to survive on the final day of the Championship campaign. Odour’s late winner came in a 2-1 victory in the Bees’ final match at Griffin Park.
The Reds had been in the relegation places since September 14 but a dramatic late triumph over Nottingham Forest in their penultimate game gave them hope before Odour completed the remarkable escape at Brentford.
Leeds Rhinos have been used to winning trophies over the last decade but prior to their dramatic win in the Challenge Cup Final in 2020, their last piece of silverware was the 2017 Super League title.
At an empty Wembley Arena, Luke Gale kicked the winning drop-goal as the Rhinos beat a spirited Salford Red Devils 17-16 to win the cup for the 14th time. Instead of following their team to London, Rhinos fans were confined to their homes as Richard Agar guided the club to Wembley success, following in the footsteps of his father, Allan, whose Featherstone Rovers side shocked Hull FC in the 1983 final.
Leeds Rhinos Netball marked their first game as a Vitality Netball Superleague side with a statement victory over Celtic Dragons last month.
It was the first time for half a decade that a team was representing the White Rose County in the top tier of English netball. It was an historic occasion that warranted the support of fans at court-side, as the Rhinos claimed an emphatic 65-35 win.
Terri Harper was crowned WBC and IBO super featherweight champion at the Sheffield Arena in February 2020 but her first two defences took place behind closed doors.
The first, which resulted in a split-decision draw against fellow Brit Natasha Jonas, was an enthralling bout. There was relief for Harper as she held onto her belts in one of the best female fights in recent history. There was no questions hanging over Harper in November when she knocked out Katharina Thanderz at Wembley Arena to make it 12 professional fights unbeaten.
Hannah Cockroft lowered four of her world records in one day at the British Wheelchair Athletic Association Grand Prix in Stoke Mandeville in September. The event was not sanctioned by ParaAthletics, meaning Cockroft’s times will not stand as world records, but she showed she is still the woman to beat ahead of this year’s Paralympics.
Brian Hughes was on the 141-winner mark, 19 clear of multiple champion Richard Johnson, when the first lockdown closed down sport. Yet, while the North Yorkshire rider was subsequently named 2019-20 champion, he was denied his moment in the sun in April when National Hunt racing crowns its champions. A large contingent from the North had been expected to travek south to mark Hughes becoming the first Northern-based NH title winner since Jonjo O’Neill 40 years earlier.
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