Dave Seddon's PNE pressview: Preston skipper Alan Browne had right to respond to disgusting abuse on social media

Alan Browne  is a rather quietly spoken lad but he is someone who will speak up for himself or a Preston North End team-mate when the need arises.

Friday, 26th November 2021, 4:45 pm

That’s not made him too popular with some Twitter users this week.

If social media isn’t your thing, apologies for delving into this topic. But there’s a wider context to it and one which needs talking about.

Criticism was aimed at Browne on Twitter during PNE’s game at Middlesbrough in midweek.

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PNE skipper Alan Browne in action against Middlesbrough

Actually, it wasn’t criticism, foul-mouthed abuse would be a more accurate description.

The Lilywhites skipper got both barrels from the angry tweeter for not picking up the run of Paddy McNair at the corner which the Boro man headed into the net.

McNair was actually in Andrew Hughes’ area in the zonal marking pattern but Browne was singled out.

After the game had been won by North End with two late goals, Browne replied to the tweet – one he had been copied into.

He wrote ‘Sorry gaffer didn’t know that was my man’ accompanied by a clown emoji.

Was Browne justified in doing that? On this occasion I would say he was.

Not because of the fact he was being criticised – we all have an opinion and are entitled to give it.

But it was the way it was done, the language used to describe him by the tweeter being something from the sewer.

It was wholly unnecessary and actually detracted from any argument over the merits of who was marking who at the corner.

With Browne being called what he was, little wonder he had a bit of a pop back and defended himself.

It’s a bit of a worry that a clown emoji upsets people more than the use of a swear word which you’d put high up in the offensive category.

In an ideal world, Browne would turn the other cheek and perhaps not have reached for his phone so soon after a game.

But this wasn’t that ideal situation was it? North End had turned things round to win the game, yet here was a tweet – albeit posted during the first half – which called him out wrongly and

in such derogatory language.

Browne is only human and the temptation to answer back was too strong.

Are we at the point where people will abuse and criticise but aren’t prepared to accept words coming back their way?

It’s been said that as PNE’s captain, Browne showed a lack of responsibility answering back.

The flip side is that he showed the judgement to see the abusive tweet as being a step too far and felt it right to highlight that by replying.

A couple of days after the defeat to Nottingham Forest, Browne got involved in the debate of the cheering of Brad Potts’ substitution at the City Ground.

Many fans had found that cheering uncomfortable, so was Browne just saying what they were thinking?

Social media can be very enjoyable but it can also be a tough place – it’s lively to say the least after any team loses a game.

It’s a good place to debate football, share your thinking of team selection, tactics, whatever.

But what has crept in is a reluctance for some to accept any alternative view point to their own.

They don’t have to agree, just agree to disagree. Enjoy a debate and move on.

These are the type of arguments we used to have post-match in the pub.

The game would be talked about over a beer or two and left at the pub door.

Now it can go on for hours on social media.

I hope there isn’t the need for Browne to see fit to have to defend himself against the type of tweet seen this week.

If there is legitimate criticism, as a player he has to take it on the chin.

On this occasion though, he was justified in replying and I’ve read many tweets supporting him since.

A couple of years ago, it was seen as a positive thing that footballers were on social media and available at the swipe of a screen.

Twitter doesn’t seem as popular a platform for players now, there’s less interaction.

What that Twitter spat between Browne and his critic should not do is cloud the fact North End won at Middlesbrough.

Granted, it was very much a smash and grab raid in that they hadn’t had an effort on target until Ched Evans headed the equaliser in the 77th minute.

That was followed by another sweet finish from Emil Riis for the winner.

No one is claiming the win on Teesside solved every problem PNE might have.

But a win is a win and North End needed that after back-to-back defeats.

What I enjoyed about the Riverside Stadium victory was the manner in which they saw the game out.

Riis’ goal went in with eight minutes of the regulation 90 left on the clock, to which four minutes of stoppage-time was added.

For a team not stacked full of confidence, that could have been a difficult spell to get through.

But back came a touch of gamesmanship to their play, doing to Boro what some clubs have done to them.

They kept the ball up field very well in the closing stages, winning a succession of throw-ins and a couple of corners.

There was a bit of collateral damage in the fact Daniel Johnson was shown a yellow card for time wasting at a free-kick but it was nothing to worry about.

To finish off this column, I’d like to say how much I enjoyed attending the memorial service for Trevor Hemmings which was held at St Andrew’s Church in Leyland on Thursday,

It struck the right tone, with people representing the many strands of Mr Hemmings’ life, in attendance.

Royalty rubbed shoulders with football, horse racing, business, charity and family.

It was a real mix of people, a star of the ‘Fast Show’ there for the same reason as the Princess Royal – to honour a special man.

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