Football is hardly covering itself in glory at the moment. Whether it be because of corrupt or weak governing bodies, flailing elbows, armed air rifles, disallowed goals, refereeing blunders, theatrical play-acting or just good old poor form. The list is endless.
This criticism is justified. Fans aren't afraid of criticising their own sport, while others often revel in its misfortune. The game is not in a good place, and it’s leaving those who love it most disheartened and disillusioned.
But forget that for a moment, because just occasionally, something happens that reminds you why you fell in love with the game in the first place.
The passing of the former Bradford, Wolves, Southampton and Spurs centre-half Dean Richards was of course a tragedy. In addition to forcing him to retire barely into his thirties, succumbing to his long illness, has left his wife a widow and two children without a father. No words can come close to describing this loss.
But yesterday’s beautiful tribute prior to the Wolves and Tottenham match went some way to showing the game’s core is not yet rotten.
Every person, regardless of their chosen allegiance or whether they are even a fan of football, would undoubtedly have been moved upon seeing and hearing both sets of supporters unite to chant, ‘Deano, there’s only one Deano’, as his two young sons, Rio and Jaden, watched on.
Former Wolves goalkeeper Matt Murray, who represented the home side during the tribute, tweeted that night: 'I know Dean's family were moved by the reception they received and that they were treated really well by the club. Big Deano would be proud'.
And so should we. For all of football's failings, it can never be accused of forgetting its own.
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