Hox in the Box: Tyrone or Terry?
In a sport dominated by egos and multi-millionaire eccentricities it was refreshing to see a truly heart-warming and thoroughly commendable act of kindness bestowed upon a fan by a professional footballer this week.
Instead of using social media to spit bile, or regale us with the banalities of life as an over-paid primadonna, or in Michael Owen’s case go on, and on, and on, about your racehorses (no one cares, Michael), an up and coming Ipswich starlet used it for a very different reason.
Picture: Ipswich Town's Tyrone Mings
After being sent good luck wishes from a supporter, who then explained he wouldn't be able to afford to get to the game at Portman Road that day due to a lack of funds, promising Ipswich youngster Tyrone Mings responded by giving the fan two tickets for free.
His motives were simple: he just wanted a hard-up supporter to enjoy the game without having to re-mortgage his house to do so. His twitter feed read "Left u tickets under the name tris monk [the fan’s name]. Shouldn't miss a game cos u can't afford it."
Two things struck me about Mings’ gesture: firstly, how much it clearly meant to the fan involved, but also how it made other fans feel like the player and the club actually cared about them. How often can you really say that?
No, more often it appears there's a metaphorical chasm between the footballers soaking up all the adoration from the stands and the punters who line their idols’ pockets with their hard earned cash.
So, for a player who hasn't actually hit the big time yet, to establish such a connection with the very people who could actually make or break his career is a wonderful example of how things should be.
And why not? Football is pure escapsim. For a couple of short hours on a weekend we can forget about our troubles, cast them to one side as we roar on our team from the terraces (if we still had terraces).
Picture: Remember these?
Win, lose or draw watching your side is tantamount to giving yourself up to a higher purpose (unless you support Wolves or Wigan, in which case it’s akin to death by a thousand cuts), but do clubs and players fully understand how important their fans are? I think most are clueless.
The role of the football fan has never been so central to the health of our clubs, especially in the Premier League - which has to be said, is pretty mundane when you look below the top five.
With Financial Fair Play regulations set to kick in next year, clubs won't moving heaven and earth to sign the very best, most marketable talent.
Unless your surname is Wenger, of course, in which case your fans believe you have a moral duty to spend vast sums of money because of the scandalous price at which they sell their tickets.
At £60 a time, it’s a sizeable chunk of cash Gunners fans are forced to spend on watching an average team full of millionaires - especially when they get well beaten by a team like Blackburn Rovers.
The answer may well be not to spend yet more money on another over-priced player, but when you're not winning anything and the fans expect, you’re uunder pressure to give them something to cheer about.
But I digress.
The role of the fan has a major part to play in shaping the future of British football, whether it be Truro struggling to stay in the Blue Sqaure Bet South, or Falmouth Town rebuilding for the future, all the way up to Ipswich or even the might of a team like Chelsea who despite their gazillions of rubles will endure yet another summer of upheaval and uncertainty at the hands of an eccentric billionaire owner.
Picture: John Terry telling his friend where he parked his Bentley
But whilst their captain John Terry was abandoning his £200,000 Bentley on the A3 in Surrey last week because he felt he was too good to wait in traffic like everyone else, Ipswich's Tyrone Mings was making a fan’s day by doing a selfless good deed.
I know who I would rather spend my money going to watch, and it's not the man we will never see in an England jersey again (thankfully), it's the man we all hope one day we will.
Tyrone, I salute you.