PETER CROUCH: Fans have made the Premier League ELECTRIFYING again

PETER CROUCH: It just wasn’t the real Premier League without fans… but now with capacity crowds back, old guys crying on TV and Hey Jude blasting out, football is finally ELECTRIFYING again

  • Capacity crowds made for an exciting return for the new Premier League season
  • It was brilliant to see Brentford fans witness their opening game in the top flight
  • Matches will go up a level because of supporters, and there will be more goals
  • I’ve also gone back into non-League with my old club Dulwich Hamlet!

I am willing to go out on a limb here. Football supporters inside stadiums: it might well catch on, you know. What an electrifying return that was, from start to finish.

Honestly, the Brentford game made you realise — if you had not realised already — why you have missed the Premier League at full capacity.

I watched them in the old Division Three and for that to happen against the mighty Arsenal on Friday night was just incredible. The pure emotion of it all, the old guy crying on our television sets. He has watched some bad football over the years, that man.

It was brilliant to see fans back in stadiums up and down the country over the weekend

Brentford boss Thomas Frank conducted the crowd as Hey Jude was blasted out the speakers

Some Brentford supporters were reduced to tears as they watched their team beat Arsenal

It would have been such a shame for that occasion to have been in an empty ground. We would not have been able to see Thomas Frank — who I like, a bit of a showman — conducting the crowd as Hey Jude blasted out from the speakers afterwards.

Even the pundits, Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher, were excited about it down on the touchline. They don’t have any allegiance to either team but it is so easy to find yourself caught up in the joy. And Brentford’s players went up a notch because of the noise.

There was a reconnection up and down the country, an outpouring we have all been waiting patiently for. And it was a long old wait.

I consider myself privileged to have been at some Premier League matches last season but the feel of it just was not the same.

There were more than a few times last year when it all felt a bit of a soulless existence. I’ve played in loads of those games down the years, the behind-closed-doors stuff or in the reserves. Last season was basically just like one of those on repeat — not the top flight.

The Premier League is built on going to difficult places with tough atmospheres but it often became a completely different sport.

Teams played in a different way, the games were slower, occasionally with no edge. Fans do not allow you to get away with that. Who knows whether Trevoh Chalobah would have rattled in his first ever Chelsea goal from 25 yards in an empty stadium, but the cries of ‘shoot’ from the fans inside of Stamford Bridge would certainly have given him the encouragement to have a go.

The first round of fixtures averaged more than three goals a game in electrifying return of fans

Trevoh Chalobah may not have opted to shoot before he scored had it not been for the crowd

Tottenham fans celebrate after Son Heung-min scored the winner against Manchester City

For an academy lad to experience that after his years of loan spells away from the club is so special. The whole ground came together as one to celebrate that moment.

What we witnessed was the first round of fixtures averaging more than three goals a game and it is understandable why that happened. There is more energy in your legs and a desire to put on a show. How a game progresses can be changed by the paying, or baying, public — good and bad.

For me, the more hostile the better. Turkey was so daunting but I absolutely loved it with Liverpool. Besiktas, that buzz beforehand.

We went out to have a look at the pitch with the programmes and the place was already full, already rocking. The whistling was deafening, they were all bouncing in unison. We got beat, but enough about that.

I always remember being in the San Siro. Like the Colosseum, you can hear that roar outside and the buzz. You are down in a little dungeon of a dressing room.

That is what makes it. I probably would not have even told my grandkids that I played there if it was behind closed doors.

That is how we all feel about football without fans. It just doesn’t mean anything, does it? That is why this weekend was so special, real sense of occasions everywhere.

The matches will go up a level this time and we have seen it already. 

Bruno Fernandes lapped up the fans’ support at Old Trafford while scoring a hat-trick

Ken Sema enjoys a moment of joy with a fan after Watford scored against Aston Villa


I have taken on a new role over the summer. You are reading the new director of Dulwich Hamlet — the non-League club where I spent time on loan 21 years ago. This is a job I will be taking very seriously.

I was down at Champion Hill on Saturday to watch Dulwich’s 1-1 draw with Chippenham Town in the National League South, bumping into Alan Smith, the old Crystal Palace manager, who goes there a bit.

Dulwich want me to act as the link between the manager, Gavin Rose, and the board. I’m busy organising things for the team and helping the board out. It’s a contrast to the television duties during this summer’s European Championship. 

Doing the Year-Late Euros on the BBC with Maya Jama was a load of fun. The studio was on Wembley Way with a beer garden, watching the games on a big screen. You could hear the noise filtering down to us while England performed so well.

That was a great experience for me doing a bit of presenting. I have a lot of respect for the presenters who make it look so seamless. Gary Lineker, Jake Humphrey, Clare Balding, Dan Walker — these are proper presenters.

It takes years and I’m not the finished article but the more you do, the better you get. Hopefully the BBC will have us back for Qatar!

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