It is not often these days that football fans applaud goals scored against their own team – but last week’s strikes by Billy Sharp against Middlesbrough and Ipswich were universally celebrated by everyone who loves the beautiful game.
When the Doncaster Rovers striker struck home an unbelievable effort against Boro just 72 hours after the death of his two day-old son Luey Jacob it was no exaggeration from opposition manager Tony Mowbray to describe it is as “the goal from heaven”.
It was a touching tribute from Mowbray, who suffered heartbreak himself in losing his wife Bernadette to breast cancer, and it was marvellous to hear the Boro boss say he was actually pleased Billy had scored, even though it was against his team.
Just as heart-warming was the reaction of referee Darren Deadman who showed great commonsense in not booking him for revealing a T-shirt with the message ‘That’s for you son’. It took guts to ignore FIFA’s draconian book of rules.
To see that followed up by the genuine applause of Ipswich Town supporters when Billy netted again in Rovers’ 3-2 win at Portman Road on Saturday was a wonderful tribute not just to Luey Jacob – but the whole football family.