A FOOTBALL fan who was publicly abused as “inbred” by a rival has had the last laugh – by leading out his team for one of the biggest games of the season.
Derby County supporter Charlie Harrison was filmed being verbally abused by a Nottingham Forest fan who prompted even greater outrage by putting the footage online.
But Charlie’s terrible ordeal was turned into one of the best moments of his life last night (mon) when he led out his beloved Rams against Forest in the East Midlands Derby.
Both clubs made clear their disgust at the treatment Charlie received last December and he was a special guest at the City Ground in Nottingham.
Charlie was verbally abused by a still unknown Forest supporter for wearing a Derby County shirt in Nottingham.
Charlie, who was alone and wearing a Rams shirt in the city, was also told he was a “sheeps*****r” in the vile clip.
Police treated the verbal abuse as a hate crime, and Nottingham Forest vowed that disciplinary action would be taken against the supporter.
But video posted by Derby posted a video from their TV channel RamsTV last night showing Charlie lining up in the tunnel with his heroes and carrying the ball out on to the pitch.
In a statement on Nottingham Forest’s website it read: “Nottingham Forest are delighted to confirm that Derby County supporter Charlie Harrison will be a special guest for this evening’s match.
“Charlie will lead the teams out before the match at The City Ground and he will be representing local charity Umbrella, who support children and young people aged 5 to 30 with any special need, including physical, sensory, learning and behavioural disabilities and additional needs.”
Derby today tweeted “It was a pleasure to have you with us last night, Charlie.”
Charlie can be seen in the tunnel standing next to Derby captain Richard Keogh holding the match ball.
He then leads the teams out of the tunnel in a packed stadium with the ball in hand.
Charlie stands between the officials as both teams prepare to shake hands before kick off.
A spokesman from Derby County said: “Charlie was a guest of Nottingham Forest and Derby County last night as per a statement on Forest’s website yesterday.
“Charlie also visited our players and managerial staff in December in the dressing room at Pride Park ahead of home fixture.”
The gesture has delighted many fans.
Welshramdcfc said: “Well done to all involved for doing this for the lad.”
LTLFRice20 added: “Rivalry aside that was a class move to invite him to the City Ground.”
Millwall1885cf wrote: “Nice touch from clubs this is what football is about.”
Allisona623 said: “Made up for the lad, well done to both clubs for making this happen for him he will remember that forever.”