MAYBE there is some hope, after all.
Ordinarily, footballers who post messages on social media, especially on derby day, would be forgiven for doing so with the equivalent of a seat belt and crash helmet on and adopting the brace position.
Such is the backlash – some of it pretty nasty – from cyber warriors supporting rival clubs waiting to be annoyed.
Sometimes ‘fans’ of their own team, too. Posting out tweets should come complete with a triangular warning sign. Danger, beware.
The small-minded reaction stuff from many rival fans – usually in the form of a string of profanities -–is often facile, witless and above all, boring. But thoroughly predictable, all the same.
It is small wonder that many players just simply did not bother any more. What is the point in engaging with fans, given the bile that you are in danger of receiving back from some?
Which is why the reaction from Rotherham United supporters to Sheffield United goalkeeper Dean Henderson’s tweet after a highly-entertaining South Yorkshire derby on Saturday was so refreshing and leaves you racing to the keyboard to type ‘more please.’
Henderson’s outstanding performance at the AESSEAL New York Stadium was rightfully garlanded. On a poor collective day for the Blades, he earned them a point and was a one-man barrier to a defeat which no Unitedite could have grumbled about.
After the game, the Cumbrian custodian thanked the Blades’ sell-out visiting contingent and said that while it was not necessarily a good result for the promotion-chasing side, he and his team-mates would ‘work hard to put things right.’ All standard stuff, you might say.
Henderson then also went onto say that he loved the banter he had with Millers supporters, who were in his ear for much of the game.
He has ‘previous’ with Rotherham. He saved two penalties against them for Shrewsbury last season – including one in the League One play-off final at Wembley – and showed compelling evidence of just why he was regarded as League One’s stand-out goalkeeper last term. It is fair to say he puffed out his chest a bit in the process.
Fatefully, he also described himself as “The Greatest” on his Twitter page in the build-up to the league match with the Millers in Shropshire in February, only to make a mistake which saw Rotherham score the only goal of the game and win 1-0.
Suffice to say that some Rotherham players were not backwards in coming forwards with dishing out the on-pitch stick that day. That is what it is all about.
But while Henderson can give a bit, he can, crucially, take a bit as well.
He drowned out the noise on Saturday by producing a high-class performance. The response of many Millers to his post-match tweet was similarly classy as well.Leon Wobschall
He drowned out the noise on Saturday by producing a high-class performance. The response of many Millers to his post-match tweet was similarly classy as well.
Casting aside the disappointment of not seeing their side deservedly take the three points, home supporters were quick to recognise class when they saw it and praise Henderson’s superlative display.
It was perhaps summed up best by one tweet from one Miller which read: ‘Tremendous goalkeeping & a sense of humour - what’s not to like? (Apart from #rufc not winning obviously.)
What is not to like about rival players having a bit of banter with home supporters? A little bit of mirth, especially on derby day and in these times when football is taken incredibly seriously – too seriously – has to be applauded.