One of the bittersweet things of Barrow AFC’s promotion to the English Football League for manager Ian Evatt is that they couldn’t celebrate it with the club’s supporters.

The coronavirus pandemic has meant March 7 was the last time the Bluebirds were able to play in front of a crowd before the season was curtailed and they were all in their respective homes when they found out they were going up last week.

Evatt was the one who broke the news to his players via a message on Whatsapp involving himself and a bottle of champagne that had presumably been kept on ice for much of the previous two months.

Although social distancing rules in public are being relaxed to ‘one metre-plus’ this weekend, there is still no clear date as to when football, and other sports, will no longer have to be played behind closed doors.

For Evatt, the day when AFC are able to see their fans again and commemorate their wonderful achievements from the season just gone can’t come soon enough.

He said: “I saw the pictures of the fans social distancing during their celebrations on the pitch and I really wanted to be a part of that and be there.

“Hopefully, when the time is right, the whole town can celebrate what we have achieved together and really enjoy it.

“This has been really hard for us all, so we’re hopeful that we’ll be able to get our fans in before long.”

Before the pandemic struck, Barrow were getting crowds of over 3,000 in for some of their matches at Holker Street and more of the same can be expected when they eventually line up for their first season in the EFL in 48 years.

It’s an indication of how the town bought into how Evatt’s team were playing and how they were able to forge a connection between the supporters and the club that simply wasn’t there two years ago, when things were very much at a low ebb.

Evatt said: “The town deserves it. I’ve said many times that the thing I’m most proud of is going from when I first took over at the club and when they lost that last game of the season to Chester at home and were almost relegated to where we’re at now as a town and as a community.

“How together everyone is and how everyone has backed and supported me has been amazing and they never thought it would be possible.

“I told them for two years that we’d do it and now we’ve done it, it’s great and I hope they’re enjoying this because it’s been 48 years of pain that’s come to an end.”