All you need to know ahead of a big day for fans at The Walks
- Credit: Ian Burt
The Walks has hosted some major tests in recent seasons – but this weekend comes arguably the biggest of them all - as Chris Lakey reports
For footballing reasons, the visit of National League leaders Torquay United is hugely significant given it reflects how far King's Lynn Town FC has come in such a short time.
But on top of that is the return of fans to the ground which has been home to the club, in its different guises, for almost 140 years.
Paying customers have been unable to watch their team since March 14, after which the effects of the coronavirus pandemic saw the padlocks fixed on turnstiles around the country.
The return isn’t quite a full one: the government decision to allow outdoor sport to be played in front of 2,000 crowds in category two areas is a start. But then comes the work of safety officers who fix a Covid figure on the maximum attendance, and in King’s Lynn Town’s case, that is 1,400.
If you are Norwich City you can accommodate 2,000 fans with a high degree of safety – seating helps, because it prevents free movement of supporters thus enabling social distancing to be more strictly observed.
It is at grounds like The Walks, where three sides are for standing only, that it becomes more difficult to police and, therefore, lower limits are brought in. For example, the main stand can seat a little over 1,000 fans - on Saturday, just 320 will be in operation.
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It is understandable – but the fans who do watch Saturday’s game, now have another huge responsibility. Their presence will be a fillip to the team, especially as Torquay won’t have the benefit of backing from any travelling fans – we haven’t reached that point just yet.
But they must also act responsibly to ensure that all safety requirements are met. If not, that 1,400 figure is going to be cut again. And that will affect other fans who want to watch the Linnets, which in turn will reduce the club's income at a time when it is most needed.
Attending football at this level is a social occasion for many, where fans mingle and mix and discuss the game. That’s changed, and the temptation to act normally must be resisted, however difficult.
Lynn’s National League rivals Weymouth discovered to their cost what can happen. This from their website...
“At Saturday’s game against Halifax, despite regular requests from Covid volunteers, stewards, and the PA announcements, some supporters failed to adequately social distance in some areas of the ground. Following discussions with Dorset Police, on behalf of the Safety Advisory Group, the capacity for Tuesday’s match v Dagenham & Redbridge has been reduced to 450....
"The behaviour of a few has cost the club dearly, in terms of reduced revenue from gate receipts, and in additional costs for increased licensed security and stewards to carry out searches.”
King’s Lynn Town has published a whole raft of instructions to avoid such an occurrence on Saturday.
The difficulty can be explained in one post which appeared on social media this week: “Wearing a mask outside? No sorry, can't be having that.”
Fans have a responsibility, to the club and to each other, starting at 1pm when the turnstiles open.
Arrive in good time as with all the cleaning processes in place it will take longer than usual to enter The Walks Stadium.
Make sure you are aware of your entry point as all turnstiles will be in use to help the flow of people.
Be prepared to have your temperature taken before entry.
Please wear a face covering at all times throughout the ground.
At all times and in all areas of the ground, please observe social distancing and avoid close contact with others outside of your own bubble.
Try and remain in your location if possible whether this is seated or standing.
When moving around the ground please follow any directional and distancing markings and do not ignore any prohibited entry markers.
When passing others in seated areas please avoid face contact and turn away from each other when passing.
Maintain good hand hygiene by washing hands regularly for 20 seconds and using the hand sanitiser that is located around the stadium.
Take care when singing, celebrating or shouting and avoid close contact such as hugging and high fiving for celebratory purposes.
Please ensure this is communicated and understood by everyone that attends in your bubble such as children etc.
Smoking and the use of Vapes at this time is prohibited within the stadium until further notice
MATCH ACCESSS POINTS
Access to the Hospital End Terrace and Hospital End of the North Stand Terrace will be via turnstiles at the Hospital End of the stadium.
Access to the Tennyson Road End Terrace and Tennyson Road End of the North Stand Terrace will be via the away supporter turnstiles at the Tennyson Road End of the stadium.
Access to the main stand and terrace will be via the main turnstile block situated near the box office on Tennyson Road.