PETER Grant only needs to look back to one game in his long career to know how important fans are to football. 

It was October 1985 and the Alloa boss, then a 20-year-old relative midfielder, found himself thrust into the Celtic team for a crucial European clash against Atletico Madrid. 

The Glasgow-side had been forced to play behind closed doors due to fan misbehaviour at Old Trafford and, predictably, the lack of Parkhead backing saw the hosts crash out of Cup Winners Cup after a 2-1 defeat. 

READ MORE: Alloa Athletic chairman Mike Mulraney wants to see fans in Recs

Nearly 35 years to the day later, Grant is now facing the prospect of leading his Wasps into the Championship campaign without fans in the stands at the Recs. It comes at a time when punters are allowed into pubs and aeroplane are packed with travellers. 

For Grant, it's hard to understand why. 

"As a young kid, you dream of running out in front of crowds," the 55-year-old said. "No one would have thought we'd see days like this and everyone has found this difficult.

"We do need to have a bit of reality and accept there are different issues for everyone.

"You do ask yourself why we can't have fans though, especially when you see people allowed into certain areas and allowed to do certain things.

"If they were spaced out, then I am sure we could have an area where people come in safely. But, as I say, I am not a medic and unfortunately people have lost their lives through it.

"Football is outside and surely we could do the social distancing where no one is breathing on one another as easily as in a confined space, like a plane.

"People are walking about in areas in restaurants and even just a few weeks ago people were walking about with no mask on.

"I find it incredible that people couldn't distance at football, but I am loathe to criticise anyone as I am not a medic. 

Strathallan Times: Alloa chairman Mike Mulraney Alloa chairman Mike Mulraney

"There's an opportunity to get a certain amount in, I certainly think that." 

While it's no secret the Wasps don't boast the largest of attendances, try telling it to anyone who spends their Saturday following Alloa that the club doesn't matter. 

"For supporters, we need to think about the mental health aspect," Grant said. "You think of some people who have gone to every game for more than 50 years and all of a sudden it's gone.

"It's a relief for them and now they are locked in.

"That side of it, it's a release valve for a hell of a lot of people and there's no getting away from that.

"There's for people to be allowed in the stadiums because they are open air and there's enough space for people to socially distance." 

Whatever happens, Grant is sure he has the full backing of chairman Mike Mulraney. 

READ MORE: Sauchie Juniors chairman Karl Rennie warns club won't survive without fans

"We're very fortunate and people know the chairman runs a fantastic ship," Grant added.

"I know the money he has spent on it at this moment in time to get things ready just for us to get back to training.

"We're very much ahead of the curve and we're prepared for it that way.

"It's cost the chairman a hell of a lot of money to do that and that's not easy, especially when there's no money coming in." 

If you would like to contact Clackmannanshire and Dunblane MSP Keith Brown to share your support for a return of fans to football grounds, you can do so here: 

Unit 4
Townhead Institute
39 Drysdale Street
Alloa
FK10 1JA

Keith.Brown.msp@parliament.scot