Coronavirus shutdown gives us chance to remember our heroes - Stuart Rayner

At times like this, we need to cling to all the positives we can.

Sheffield United v Sheffield Wednesday FA Cup semi-final at Wembley on 3rd April 1993 Celebrating Sheffield Wednesday's winning goal by Mark Bright

The lack of our live (non-Belarusian) football fix is just adding to the ways this coronavirus lockdown is testing our mental resolve, but at least we have the time and the opportunity to glory in the great matches and players of years gone by.

Many of us have enjoyed looking back at those we idolised as we were growing up, but for others it has opened up whole new worlds.

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Tonight should be about settling down in front of the television and watching the highlights from this afternoon’s football, be it Premier League or Football League.

Brian Deane makes football history as he scores the first ever Premier League goal in a 2-1 victory for the Blades against Manchester United at Bramall Lane in August 1992

Normally we might be complaining about the pundits blathering on when all we want to see is the goals, saves, passes, tackles and even the infuriatingly daft decisions by the video assistant referee.

Instead, this evening many of us will be tuning in to Match of the Day just to hear three former pros sat around a kitchen table reminiscing about the good old days.

Many of us will not press the off button until we have watched the highlights of classic matches afterwards.

Leo Sharp is seven-years-old. Never mind not being old enough to have seen Alan Hodgkinson or Tony Currie play for Sheffield United, he was still years from being born when Brian Deane hung up his boots.

With the luxury of a garden and the warm weather, Leo is one of many youngsters who have been re-enacting classic goals recently. In his case they are the ones his dad, current Blades captain Billy Sharp, has been showing him on You Tube.

Whilst keeping his body active he has been stealthily home-schooled about the history of the beautiful game.

“I’ve told him about Gazza and he thought his goal (for Tottenham Hotspur in the 1991 FA Cup semi-final) was brilliant. Both my sons know about (Bobby) Moore and (Gordon) Banks, my dad told them about them two guys, and we have little figures of them. It’s good to know about past of the past players as well,” says Sharp senior, who in years to come will be one of those dads and grandfathers are telling stories about.

With old matches streamed on the internet, others on You Tube and still more “live-blogged” for the first time, there is plenty of material. We journalists have been ringing around old players to gather their memories of matches and team-mates of yore.

You can bet You Tube clips of Norman Hunter and the great Leeds United teams he played for where taking a hammering over the ether last night.

Last Sunday I spent my afternoon watching a World Cup semi-final England lost. I can confirm that 30 years on, Chris Waddle’s penalty has got no closer to the West German net.

“Identity” is a buzzword in modern football, and to properly understand it, you need to know a bit about the history of your club.

Its history is a big part of what makes English football so special, whether it is the three stars over Huddersfield Town’s badge, Deane scoring the first Premier League goal, Leeds winning trophies at home and abroad, watching Barnsley being just like watching Brazil, Hull City playing in Europe – or Division Four, Doncaster Rovers dropping out of the Football League and bouncing back into the Championship, Sheffield Wednesday playing at Wembley four times in a season, Rotherham United in the first League Cup final, Middlesbrough’s miraculous UEFA Cup comebacks or even the tragedy of the Bradford City fire 35 years ago, there are so many stories to be told.

For history buffs like me it is great. For those experiencing these tales for the first time, it must be wonderful.

“The media team at Sheffield United do a great job of putting stuff out there,” said Sharp – Billy, not Leon – this week.

“It’s great for the players because it’s impossible to see everything that went on at the time. It’s been great to reminisce and see what we’ve achieved together.”

If we emerge from this lockdown with a greater appreciation of the heroes who have moulded our game, we will at least be better for that.

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