EVERY so often, someone makes a mark in sport that’s far larger than their ability indicates.

Jean-Marc Bosman is one.

So, too, is Colin Kaepernick.

And last week, another may have surfaced when 17-year-old Blackpool forward Jake Daniels came out as gay.

He becomes only the second openly gay man in elite football anywhere in the world and the first British male footballer for more than three decades.

After Daniels’ disclosure, there has been much talk of his bravery and courage, and it is undeniable that making the decision to come out must have been daunting.

But what kind of environment is men’s football – and this is entirely confined to the male side of the sport – that it takes such bravery to reveal something that is relatively commonplace in almost every other walk of life?

In women’s football, being gay is never a talking point. 

But the men’s game is a world away from this. Certainly, there has long been an acceptance that the absence of any openly gay male footballers did not mean there were none. On the contrary, the stats suggested there were certainly more than a few.

But it has taken a long, long time to get to this point where a player wanted to come out publicly.

Prior to Daniels’ announcement, there was generally a view that anyone coming out would receive support and admiration and this was certainly the case last week.

Overwhelmingly, major clubs, organisations and individuals have had nothing but positive things to say about Daniels and his decision. 

There has, unsurprisingly, been the odd negative and disparaging comment on social media but they have been massively outnumbered by supportive messages for the Englishman.

So, the early indications are that once this initial wave of interest in Daniels dies down, he will be able to continue as normal in the sport.

What will be interesting, though, will be to see what, if any, impact Daniels’ coming out has on his fellow players. Will he have opened the floodgates?

Prior to his revelation, there was the suggestion that after the first male player came out, there would be a deluge following in his footsteps.

Maybe this will be the case, but I’m not betting that one player coming out will see all the stigma, or perceived stigma, melt away immediately.

Undoubtedly, being the first to come out is the hardest. But being the second isn’t going to be substantially easier. There will be a similar threat of abuse, a similar feeling of trepidation at the inevitable press coverage.

So while Daniels has unquestionably made it easier for people to follow, I think it would be optimistic to assume there will be any overnight change. The stigma attached to coming out as gay in men’s football has been there for decades and will not disappear overnight.

But, in the long term, Daniels has done a massive service to his sport, to his fellow players and to youngsters in the sport.

No longer does any young, gay boy look around men’s football and see no one to whom they can relate. That is almost certain to be Daniels’ greatest legacy.

And that is likely to be far more significant than anything he does on the pitch.


It is not too often an athlete returning from a doping ban elicits much goodwill, particularly from me. But Mark Dry is the exception.

The hammer thrower has recently returned from a 28-month doping ban which, in most people’s opinion, was harsh in the extreme.

To cut a long story short, Dry lied about his whereabouts after missing an anti-doping test in October 2018. He said he was fishing when, in fact, he was in Scotland.

Dry’s actions were stupid, which he openly admits. He deserved some form of punishment because, clearly, the anti-doping system fails to work if anything other than truth and transparency is permitted.

However, the four-year ban, which was ultimately reduced to 28 months, was, in my view, and the view of many others, disproportionate.

At the time of his ban, Dry was 31 and having won Commonwealth bronze in both 2014 and 2018, as well as becoming an Olympian in 2016, it would have been understandable if he had decided to pack elite sport in.

However, he made a pledge to himself that he would return.

Success seemed unlikely. With no financial support, he was close to bankruptcy and spent much of his time training alone.

However, against the odds, Dry is back. His suspension ended this year and today, he will make his first appearance back in a Scotland vest, at the Loughborough International.

It is quite a resurrection and one that, unusually for someone returning from a doping suspension, has been almost universally applauded.

Dry’s longer-term target is to make it into Team Scotland for the Commonwealth Games this summer.

If he is in Birmingham, it will, hopefully at least, give the 34-year-old some much needed closure after what has been a nightmare few years.