Over the last couple of days a new name rose to prominence when Sheffield United were discussed; Alan Smith. Not the prosaic, monotone striker turned pundit. No this is the Secretary of the Kiveton Branch of the Supporters' Club and apparent mouthpiece of the Sheffield United supporters where the Ched Evans situation is concerned.
Across the mainstream media from Sky News to the BBC, to print and radio, the issue has been discussed and either a reference has been made to his quotes or a direct interview has been broadcast. Whilst the opinion of a United supporter is certainly more relevant than the passing observations of Christopher Biggins and Barry from Eastenders (thanks for that insight The Wright Stuff), his manner and the basis of his comments have caused consternation and frustration amongst a number of supporters.
"Alan Smith, who is a member of the Sheffield United Supporters Club executive, told Sky News that he's been given an assurance that Evans will be returning to Bramall Lane.
He believes that most fans will welcome the club's former top goal-scorer back.
"He has served his time, he has served his sentence and we would have him back. Good players like that have got to carry on playing and if not for Sheffield United it would be for someone else, and we would regret that," he said."
Although some Blades fans at the club's Bramall Lane ground said they did not want the player back the majority - both men and women - said his return would be welcomed."
Driving back from the Mansfield Capital One clash I turned to 5Live and the panel of journalists were invited to discuss Ched Evans, but not before hearing the views of a Sheffield United Supporters Club representative.
Listening to the interview I sat in my car, wincing at many of Alan's utterances. Cringing inside. This self-appointed spokesman for United fans everywhere was making us all look stupid, thanks to his ignorance, limited vocabulary and (I'll be kind) naivety (others may say clamour for the limelight).
Probably the pick of his quotes was; "I don't want to come across as all for rape, far from it". My incredulity was shared by the journalists at the end of the interview. Henry Winter sounded stunned, and struggled to find an adequate response to what he had just heard. He described it as "very dispiriting", whilst Daniel Taylor of the Guardian said it was "not the greatest (interview), there were a few things that were said that made my blood run cold".
Mr Smith is like the worst of the radio phone-in clowns. Sometimes it is not what you say, but how you say it. There may well be some valid points in what he was saying, but it was lost in partisan, bombastic bluster about what Evans owes Sheffield United.
On Radio Sheffield the next morning his ill thought out utterings continued to be made.
"I have been told he's coming back. I'm not willing to reveal who by, but he's a high profile person." I bet they are glad that you broke their confidence Alan, assuming there was something said in the first place. When pushed as to who that person was he wouldn't say as "it wouldn't be fair on the club". Yet his ill-conceived utterances over the previous 48 hours were hardly fair on the club (or his contact), at a time when the club have made no comment as, at the moment, it is not an issue that the club has to comment on. He displayed the worst example of the "In The Know" culture in football. One upmanship of the lowest order.
"No end of people came up to me at the match last night saying what a fantastic interview I did on Sky News", clearly his ego was appeased.
"I'm not for rapists, I'm for my club" Well it's good we cleared that misconception up.
"I believe there will be a job for him going round other people who've done crimes" Doing what? Comparing notes with burglars?
"He's done his time if he raped her, then it's fine." Really?
I am all for him having an opinion, he can hold whatever views he wants, just don't present it as representative of the rest of us. If I was a senior representative of our Supporters Club, I would be looking to repair some damage and sharpish.
I have a blog, but I have never and would never claim to be a voice of the fans. This is my voice (and that of the odd guest writer). There is no agenda. I might rabble rouse, I might ask all fans to rally behind an idea or cause, but what I put on here remains my view. If others share it, then fantastic. If they don't, then so be it. I am more than happy to debate and discuss.
Maybe Mr Smith will be more circumspect next time he is asked to offer his opinion on such a divisive subject? Maybe he will wonder how he will be portrayed and consider how he will be used and presented to the world? Maybe he will take a deep breath before giving his answers? Maybe he will just put the point across as his own opinion? Maybe he will consider the damage he might do to the club, his connections and the outside world's perception of his fellow supporters? One can only hope.
The time for comment, personal opinion at that, on what happens is October. Until then anything that is being said is based on supposition and guesswork. A bit like The Wright Stuff ad break quiz which asked how much Evans would be on if he returned? Answer £19,000 per week apparently. When you have picked yourself up off the floor from laughing at such a ridiculous amount, just think about what such fictional figures add to the media frenzy being created. A media frenzy added to by someone willing to put themselves forward, speaking as a representative of our support. Our support is split. No one can assume the mantle of representative, not on this issue.
So until he is released and we see what action the club takes here is a good piece of Sheffield advice Alan, "'Ear all, see all, say nowt", or in more common vernacular, "No comment".