Sez Les: The Blades penalty that was worth so much

Chris Porter nets his penalty v Forest
Chris Porter nets his penalty v Forest
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When the whistle went for a penalty in the 90th minute at Bramall Lane last Sunday, I wonder how many Blades fans would have volunteered to take it?

I suspect there wouldn’t have been too many hands in the air.

There was such an awful lot riding on it and it’s not unknown for the odd player to look the other way or be glad he’s not taking one.

After all, there will have been many there on Sunday who well recall that fateful afternoon when a missed penalty by Don Givens relegated Sheffield United to the old Fourth Division in 1981. Had he scored, they would have stayed up and, the story goes, regular penalty taker John Matthews had declined to take it!

No doubts at all for Chris Porter who, despite having been on the pitch only a couple of minutes, went and grabbed the ball even before the blast of the whistle had stopped echoing.

How many thought at that moment “How brave, what courage”? Or were there those saying “What’s Porter taking it for?”

Unfortunately, I couldn’t make the game but caught up with the last hour or so on the radio. When it was awarded, I stopped what I was doing and actually went and stood by the radio. My heart started to beat a lot faster.

Not because it was a penalty but because of all it meant, the sheer significance of what was resting on it - and the thought of what might well be heaped on Porter should he miss.

After all, he seems to be an easy target when looking for someone to blame. So, imagine what his detractors would say if he missed!

So, it was a penalty to win the match; a penalty to earn an unmissable 6th round tie at home to Sheffield Wednesday (if...) a penalty to earn £180,000 for starters (prize money for fifth round winners), plus £212,000 tv money for live coverage of the next round plus a fair old whack from a full house plus all the rest. So look what you’d be missing...

I don’t mind admitting I punched the air when it went in. Porter showed great courage and character.

It should earn him, forever, a special niche of respect among all those who have derided him. Judging by the numbers queuing up for an autograph and pictures on Monday, he’s never been so popular!