Sheffield United: Porter’s perfect end to the season

Sheffield United v Fenerbahce SK  31.7.14' Pic : Martyn Harrison'Chris porter - Sheffield United''� copyright :  BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
Sheffield United v Fenerbahce SK 31.7.14' Pic : Martyn Harrison'Chris porter - Sheffield United''� copyright : BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY

If Chris Porter scores, they won’t be on the pitch, writes James Shield.

But the centre-forward, who this evening returns to Bramall Lane for the first time since joining Colchester 19 days ago, has promised Sheffield United supporters that his celebration will be polite and respectful.

“Hopefully we’ll be staying up and Sheffield United will go up. That really, from my perspective at least, would be an ideal end to the season.”

Porter’s career in South Yorkshire, as he told The Star last night, contained some tumultuous highs and character-testing lows. A four year long story of contrast, strife and ultimately redemption.

“I had some great times there but the best was the fans,” he said. “How they eventually took to me because that meant so, so much.

“When I first came in, I’d had an injury and, because of that, not played much football so I think they were probably a bit wary. But, by the time I left, it seemed as if I’d won them round.

“Because it’s such a smashing club, one that I was proud to play for, I’d call that my biggest victory there.”

By a twist of fate, the defining moment of his spell with United came against the club he would go on to join 14 months later. Having been dispatched on loan to Chesterfield by Nigel Clough’s predecessor David Weir, he returned to score an 81st minute penalty at the Weston Homes Community Stadium which marked the start of his former club’s march into the FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley.

“I had some tough times at United,” Porter continued. “But I also had probably the best moments of my time in the game there too.

“What we did in the cup was very special. The memories of that and the feeling within the camp will stay with me forever.”

“Nobody has really mentioned that penalty since I came down here,” he added. “Which probably isn’t a bad thing but it will always live with me.

“I’d missed an absolute sitter just before so I knew, if I missed, then all hell would break loose. Fortunately, I tucked it away.”

By his own admission Porter, signed soon after Danny Wilson’s appointment as manager, did not score as many goals in United colours as he would have liked. Nevertheless, the former Oldham Athletic and Motherwell striker, who netted 23 times in 118 appearances after leaving Derby County, developed a knack of rising to the big occasion.

His header during the second-leg of 2012’s play-off semi-final with Stevenage eventually saw United come within a Steve Simonsen penalty of securing promotion while a late brace against Nottingham Forest 14 weeks after his spot-kick in Essex kept their hopes, until Hull City intervened, of lifting the famous trophy alive.

“Not being in the starting eleven for the (play-off) final with Huddersfield was the biggest disappointment at United,” Porter said. “I’d done well in the game before so to get left out was a really hard to take.

“Obviously this season was frustrating too, especially because I’d signed a new contract in the summer, but not getting in to the team, and the result, was the hardest.”

Porter, who has scored twice in his last three games, moved to Colchester after making only three starts for Clough’s side during the present campaign. The visitors enter tonight’s contest 21st in the League One table while his former club are seventh.

“I’ve got a different role down here because I’m one of the more experienced players,” Porter said. “So there’s an extra responsibility for me and I’m enjoying that because the manager (Tony Humes) wants me to chip in with ideas during team meetings and be a vocal presence.

“When there’s a group get-together he wants myself some of the other older lads, although there aren’t many of us, to come up with suggestions and things like that.

“It’s a young group but a very talented one and, from what I’ve seen, there’s definitely enough ability for us to stay up.”

Twitter: @JamesShield1

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