Matthew Tipton support for Richard Clarke after online Jerry Thompson claims

Concern over the dangers of social media forced Portadown manager Matthew Tipton into his public statement of support for Richard Clarke.

Portadown manager Matthew Tipton. Pic by Tony Hendron.
Portadown manager Matthew Tipton. Pic by Tony Hendron.

Clarke scored against the Ports for Ballinamallard United on Saturday evening - just hours after the funeral of Jerry Thompson, the Carrick Rangers defender whose sudden death last week shocked the Irish League football family.

Accusations emerged online interpreting footage of Clarke’s goal celebration as an insult to Thompson or attempt to mock Portadown supporters or players grieving the loss of someone who spent last season at the club.

A number of comments in response, many from Irish League players, offered support to Clarke and rejected the claims, citing concerns over the potential negative impact of such accusations.

Tipton then took the decision to offer clarity over the situation with the aim of both drawing a line under the incident and to prevent continued damage to the reputation of Clarke.

“After the game on Saturday, Richard Clarke came straight up to me visibly upset as he had been told an accusation had been made against him regarding his celebration,” said Tipton in a statement over Portadown’s official social media platforms. “He told me he was pointing to his name and there is no doubting in my mind this was his intention as he regularly does this when scoring a goal.

“I’ve known Richard a long time and he genuinely is a nice human being, alongside being a great football player.

“I understand football fans will be upset that his celebration took place in front of our fans but, as I told him after the game, scoring goals and celebrations are part and parcel of football.

“This week, in particular, we have spoken greatly about mental health wellbeing and the impact social media has negatively on young people.

“Please think about this when making these accusations about any young man playing a game of football. Life is far more important than point scoring online.”