RITCHIE Humphreys today hailed one of his “most special” goals as Hartlepool United ended a run of 22 matches without victory at his boyhood club Sheffield United, writes CRAIG HOPE.
With the game in the balance at 1-1, it was the 35-year-old who stole into the penalty area and poked into the bottom corner early in the second half.
Rather than celebrate in muted tones given his respect for the Blades, Humphreys could not contain his ecstasy, sliding into the turf in front of the old Bramall Lane end.
The goal put Pools on their way to a 3-2 triumph and ended a four-month wait for victory.
And that, says Humphreys, is why he makes no apologies for the emotion his goal evoked.
“It means so much to score a goal anywhere in football, but to do it there in the situation we are in, it’s a special one,” the former Sheffield Wednesday star told SportMail.
“It was the joy of going 2-1 up at the leaders and I cannot make any apologies for celebrating like I did in front of our fans – because of where we are in the league that goal meant a lot to us.
“It gave us something to hold onto and we did that, it was a fantastic win.”
For Sheffield-born Humphreys, with his mam, dad, wife and sister in the crowd, it was an emotional moment.
“At 35 I fulfilled a boyhood ambition of scoring a goal at the Bramall Lane end,” he went on.
“I can still see where I used to sit in the Kop end as a kid and I was once mascot.
“I was released from here when I was 13 and they have always been my club.
“It’s always been an ambition to play here for me, let alone score. So to do that is another one to tick off the list.
“My wife said to me on Saturday morning that I probably wouldn’t get the chance to play at Bramall Lane again – what‘s the chances of me playing in the Championship next season or the one after – so just go out and enjoy it.
“My sister was up from London to see it with my parents and it means a lot.
“A few of my mates around the ground were giving me some stick and I got a few texts from them, but they will be pleased for me really.’’
But Humphreys admits his goal was far from his customary eye-catcher.
“It wasn’t a trademark stunner,” he laughed.
“Evan (Horwood) pulled it back and you have to keep it down as it’s easy to put over the bar.
“I did scuff it a bit, but the keeper might have thought it was going across him.
“I saw it go in and that’s all that matters, but my celebration wasn’t the best - I think I found the only dry bit on the pitch and I’ve scuffed my knee.”left-back.