Fans show love for ‘unsung’ Jose
Suddenly, amid all the sleaze, along comes a gesture that goes right to the core of decency in football.
They’ll be a bit nonplussed by it in Nottingham on Saturday. Those not supporting Sheffield Wednesday at the City Ground, at least.
Many of those who are - up to 4,000 in a 5,500 following - will be wearing masks depicting a favourite player.
A top goalscorer? No. Okay, a majestic playmaker then? No. Right, maybe a stalwart making an appearance milestone?
No... this is a largely unsung midfielder on his 71st outing for the club.
Unsung outside of Hillsborough, that is. Inside his home stadium and among the fans who throng it he is revered for embodying everything that is good about a professional footballer.
The fact that it doesn’t have to be about spectacular shots and picture passes says something positive about the supporters as well. It tells you of the qualities real fans admire in proper players.
As such, Jose Semedo Day is a well-earned tribute to a man who has been the heart and soul of his club during its recent renaissance.
And how refreshing that players of his type are appreciated in such a manner.
Portugal flags and scarves, in honour of Semedo’s nationality, will supplement those masks.
Those still baffled might well be asking: Is it Portugal Day? No, that is on June 10th each year.
But does there have to be a time to tell someone you love them? Does it have to be a birthday or Christmas?
And it’s not too strong a sentiment to express in the case of a player who has been truly moved by an exceptional and unexpected tribute.
Former boss Gary Megson went to great lengths to capture Semedo from Charlton, matched only by the distance he covers in every game. The 27-year-old seems to pop up everywhere there is a ball to be won in a role Dave Jones has described as “our safety net.”
Semedo has been caught out a few times this season in terms of using the possession gained but, with dogged application, he has adjusted to the demands of a higher division.
And a telling personal insight into his character is that he happily gave his time to stage a dummy press conference with my Sheffield Hallam University sports journalism students before a recent game.
It was also without fuss that he surrendered the captaincy he cherished to concentrate on his game.
And there are few more deserving of a fuss being made of him.
Copycat claims feared by referees
A source close to top referees confided to me a fear of “copycat” claims right at the outset of the Mark Clattenburg affair.
In that regard, it matters not that Rotherham dropped their complaint of “inappropriate language” against another referee this week. The point is that it didn’t seem to take long.
Hopefully football will trash all of this before it becomes a trend. Keep it in-house where possible. Of course, racism (if proven) is different and refs shouldn’t swear - even if bantering in four-letter words was once an effective form of control by the old school whistlers.
But whatever is said by them, they’ll have received far worse.
Mostly from losing terms incidentally.
Vaughan shows winning mentality
This column keeps Strictly schtum when it comes to dancing, even if it does involve a former England cricket captain.
But it does have a theory as to why professional sportsmen tend to muddle through from the outer extremities of their comfort zones (or hanging baskets).
Simply put, dancing is just another form of competition and they are instinctive competitors. They have to win and that’s what has given Darren Gough, Mark Ramprakash and now Michael Vaughan a certain edge in shows like Strictly.
I’ll never forget once introducing former Sheffield Wednesday defender Lawrie Madden to squash. Lawrie was such a novice he relied on me to teach him the rules. Let’s just say that any smugness I felt was extremely shortlived...
What’s next for young Lion Harry?
Delight for Harry Maguire. Dread for what his victorious England Under 21 debut will do to Danny Wilson’s hopes of keeping him at Sheffield United in the January window.
But there can only be the deepest pride at Bramall Lane that Maguire, pictured left, was the ONLY player outside the top two divisions in Stuart Pearce’s squad.
There were just half-a-dozen picks from the Championship where Maguire has only fleeting experience after his Blades baptism in a relegated team two seasons ago. So, for the 19-year-old to be earmarked on the strength of his towering form in League One is an immense indication of his standing in the game.
Danny Wilson kept telling me last season he expected to have to rest young Harry at some stage. It never happened. Remarkably for a teenager, Maguire has rarely put a foot wrong.
Crucially, he also seems to know it can be a mistake chasing the money.
Joining Aston Villa is working out Matt Lowton but just look what joining Blackburn did for Jordan Slew.
Or didn’t. His last known whereabouts were a fleeting loan with Oldham Athletic.