A young girl sits somewhere tonight, a victim of rape. Her life shattered by an opportunist sexual predator. Above everything else you read here; remember that...
Red or blue: regardless of the colours you wear around the Steel City, pride in one of Sheffield’s most revered institutions was restored late last night. But not before its name was dragged through the ‘gutter’, according to Beautiful South’s Blades patron Paul Heaton.
Sheffield United FC has seen sense. It has denied convicted rapist Ched Evans the privilege of using its facilities to train, having previously opened its doors to the former player.
Never before has a debate raged so ferociously around the 125-year-old club: never before has such venomous bile been spat around social media.
A hardcore of Evans fans absolutely believe he is a victim of a miscarriage of justice and will attack all who say otherwise. Others stand by the rule of law: he’s a convicted rapist. That is indisputable.
Of course, he’s entitled to resume his playing career, by law. There’s nothing to stop his rehabilitation in the trade he plied before he committed that crime.
The Professional Footballers’ Association was among the first to say so, and indeed Sheffield United offered the PFA and its rapist member an olive branch.
But that was a mistake. The stampede of well-respected patrons to desert the club following that decision confirmed as much: Charlie Webster, Jess Ennis-Hill, Lindsay Graham, Dave Berry.
Not one of them happy to be associated with an institution that harbours a rapist within its ranks - albeit ‘only training.’
SUFC is a proud and otherwise distinguished Sheffield institution. Its fans are fiercely loyal, and its standards notoriously high. Had it gone ahead with taking back such a high-profile sex offender, I fear its reputation in the sponsorship arena would have been terminally damaged.
There will be those who say: ‘too little too late’. I disagree. Finally, the decision makers at Bramall Lane have seen sense, and now is the time to move on.
Once and for all, we can all disassociate that man from this football club. Those who want to can concentrate on getting behind its current crop of stars.
Blades fans can once again declare ‘UTB’ without an echo of Evans.