I obviously realise this is a hugely bigoted view, but I'd sort of fallen for the tabloid stories and exposes as the norm rather than the exception.
This year, however, I've seen two examples of things that have made me re-address this view.
The first was at the funeral of my friend's son. The child was a mad Chelsea fan and, while undergoing treatment, he had gone to Stamford Bridge and met the Chelsea players and had formed something of a bond with several of their stars. This is obviously something most clubs take part in, but the genuine concern and subsequent relationship built went above and beyond what you'd expect.
The other example was the commemoration of the Hillsborough disaster. This was a genuinely moving experience and you could see how involved all the fans and all the players were.
There are times that sport, and particularly professional football, can be a grubby business, where the high ideals expounded about sporting excellence promoted on the pitch aren't matched by behaviour away from it. But there are also times when sport and its sportsmen transcend that world and are capable of amazing acts of compassion and kindness.
It's good to be reminded of these things. It's just a shame it takes tragic events to begin this realisation. For both me and them...