Hatters captain Ronnie Henry has hit out a minority of Town’s supporters for their crippling negativity towards the team, writes Mike Simmonds.
The skipper was involved in a heated debate with a Town fan after Hatters come from behind 3-2 win over Lincoln City at Kenilworth Road this afternoon.
At the final whistle, Henry ran over to a section of the crowd by the players’ tunnel to remonstrate further with the individual and eventually had to be dragged away by his team-mates.
The skipper took to the club’s official Hatters Player to explain exactly why he had done so, saying: “I’ve been covering up for a good few months now about the supporters. It’s a Conference club and is getting 6,000 fans for home games which is phenomenal.
“But there are people out there that are going to affect the players and are affecting the players on the pitch.
“Even though we are professional footballers, we should be able to deal with it, but it’s not easy.
“A fan at half time decided to take it onboard and try and come to the tunnel at me. He said a few words to myself about me and the rest of my team-mates, and I’ve been taking it for too long now to keep taking it.
“So I decided to speak to him at the end, asked him for a chat, and he hid.
“And then he clapped, so I told him don’t clap. If you’re not going to be behind us, don’t come.
“It’s Conference football, we’re good players but things are going to go wrong.
“We all need to be in it together. We work hard during the week, very hard, the players and management. It’s a new team and I’d like to invite that person into the club whenever they want to come into the club, to have a chat with me, like I wanted to afterwards.
“I wasn’t raising my voice at any time, I’d like to apologise to the people that were around him, the children for the outbust that he gave really.
“It’s not right and it’s not helping the club, so I’d like him to come in for a chat and expain what he wants to say that’s negative. It’s affecting the players and it needs to come out.”
Henry recently made his 50th appearance for Town after joining from Stevenage, who during his time, made their way from the Conference to League One.
He continued: “I’ve come here from a club that only gets 2,500 fans in League One and their support was absolutely tremendous.
“We were batting above our league, but those supporters got right behind us. The majority of supporters here, don’t get me wrong, are very good, as you see against Aston Villa and Millwall, teams like that.
“They really got behind us and it made a difference. But there’s very negative people in the ground and I’m putting my neck on the line here and I just want to speak to those people and ask them what help is it actually doing?
“Because it’s affecting our younger players at the club and if I wasn’t as strong as I am, it may affect me.
“But it’s not going to, so I’d like to ask them to come in for a chat whenever they want and see what we can do about it.”
Henry had to be marched away by Steve McNulty and JJ O’Donnell, even though the pair were supportive of his actions.
He now hopes by making a stand, Town’s fans can play a massive part in a successful campaign ahead.
Henry said: “Macca and JJ came across, Macca knows, Macca said you’re right, you need to talk to them, so do the players.
“The negativity, it’s not good. You’re 1-0 down at half time, you never know what that lift can give us if they really get behind us.
“It makes a hell of a difference. Teams come here and if they can get through that first half an hour 0-0, they know some of the crowd will turn and that makes it easy for them.
“I can’t see anyone stopping us if the crowd turn up and do what they should do.”
Boss John Still didn’t witness the incident first half, but speaking exclusively to the News/Gazette, he said: “If you want me to make as assumption, I think someone had a little dig at Ron when he’s going off at half time and when it was all over, the fella was still in that position and Ron’s message was get behind the team.
“I am guessing a little bit of that, but until I speak to him it’s very difficult to say.
“It would be unfair of me to say Ronnie’s wrong or the supporter’s wrong until I find out, but I will.
“I didn’t really hear the crowd moan, I’m over there and can’t hear everything and I’m focused, but there are going to be moans.”
The incident came just two weeks after Still made an empassioned speech to fans for their full support at home games.
He added: “The only thing I was trying to put through, I’ve written a really big report on all parts of the club that I think need to improve, so that when eventually we go up, we’re ready.
“One of the things was that when teams come here and defend and defend and defend and after 20 minutes think they’ve done a job, the crowd cheer louder.
“That was my point. If you’ve got 100 people, one per cent might moan, if you’ve got 1,000 people, one per cent might moan, unfortunately that’s football, I don’t moan about it.
“If that’s what they think they should do then I go along with that, but my point to them was, that you don’t know what will happen if you stay with the team for 90 minutes.
“Well they do today because I thought the support was good today and they stayed with them.
“Someone said to me that was like the old days, well I wasn’t here then so I don’t know, but I have to use this analogy.
“I built a club (Dagenham & Redbridge) from not a great start and that was that club’s performance today. That team was never beat, never beat and we’re getting that into this team now.
“So why not embrace it as oppose to knock it and let’s see.
“I have no problems with supporters that moan, I really don’t, but what I say is stay with it, let’s see what happens. Don’t give the other side an advantage, give them a disadvantage.”
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