BROWNE ON THE BALL: The best things come to those defenders who wait

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THE press. Horrible people, those hacks.

THE press. Horrible people, those hacks.

When they’re not all listening to phone messages or victimising poor old Hugh Grant, they’re spending their time building people up to knock them down.

That is seemingly the general opinion the public in this country right now.

Journalists, and especially those loveable sports reporters, don’t build people up to knock them down.

They, in fact, give people the benefit of the doubt... A fair chance.

When a player comes through the academy or joins from another club to make their debut, they can find themselves lavished with praise.

Yes, sometimes there’s a little hyperbole added to the match report (secretly, each egomaniac journalist would like to be the first to say they spotted potential in the next big thing).

But this would be no more glowing than the tributes made by fans over a post-match pint, on internet messageboards or on the terraces – surely having your name chanted by fans is the biggest praise a footballer can dream of?

And that brings me to Nathan Stainfield.

“Goal-den debut” was the headline in the Boston Standard the week after the defender marked his first Pilgrims appearance with a match-winning header against Hinckley.

Building him up to knock him down? Certainly not.

Stainfield got the headline because he was the story.

His debut... The winner, just nine minutes after being introduced.... Playing out of position and through the pain barrier, with a visible thingh injury... Face it, the story wrote itself.

It was just a movie star, a bag of Class A drugs, a high-profile MP and a hamster away from being a global phenomenon.

After that debut, big things were predicted for Stainfield.

Even Martyn Lakin, then the Boston Town manager, who had hoped to re-sign Stainfield after his return from a summer’s coaching in the USA, wasn’t miffed after the cross-town rivals nabbed his man.

Instead, he was chuffed his old protege was climbing the footballing ladder, such was the regard in which he was held.

The defender earned his first start as an injury and illness-hit Pilgrims were dumped out of the FA Cup at Kidsgrove.

This was followed by a 6-1 drubbing at Altrincham.

But Stainfield kept his place and things improved - victories over Histon, Workington and a draw with Colwyn Bay.

However, due to injury, he found himself slip down the pecking order, loaned to Hucknall, recalled, but not played.

Stainfield had not featured in 16 consecutive matches for United and seemed set to become the forgotten man.

That was until his recall last Tuesday at Vauxhall Motors.

Instead of spitting his dummy and walking away, the Swineshead lad bid his time and took his chance.

Teaming up alongside Tom Ward, he reminded his managers what a talent he was (and possibly half of a young defensive partnership for the future) as the Pilgrims kept their sixth clean sheet of the league campaign. Number seven came on Saturday.

Nothing but full credit should be given to the player, his performance and his attitude as he watched from the sidelines.

Journalists don’t build people up to knock them down.

They give everyone a fair crack and only turn when a person allows their own standards to slip.

When someone plays well or conducts themselves in the correct manner, they get the praise they deserve... even if they have to annoyingly wait half a season on the sides to prove themselves again.