The viral cult hero embracing a Fratton turnaround as Portsmouth fans take him to their hearts
Sean Raggett has been battered over the head with the online brickbats. And now the defender is being handed the viral bouquets as his Pompey career goes from strength to strength.
As it goes, you get the overwhelming feeling neither are really going to knock the 26-year-old from the even emotional keel he’s bolted firmly to.
If the summer loan arrival from Norwich portrays a granite exterior on the football pitch, his sensibilities, by his own admission, are crafted by the same rock-solid materials.
In these enlightened times we are now looking to call out those who derive pleasure from haranguing those in the public eye, displaying our own worst kind of social-media fuelled schadenfreude.
And rather assuming the targets are immune to criticism, that’s how it should be. Although, in this business where everyone has an opinion a steely resolve undoubtedly helps. Of that, there’s no doubt.
But Raggett traverses the world of footballing opinion with all the glorious indifference of the low-maintenance character he is.
That’s been his weapon to deal with much of the flak which was fired his way through a tough start to his Pompey career.
The knocking memes which flew back and forth on Twitter and Instagram, were deflected with a metaphorical shrug of the shoulders from the man who’s emerged from the non-league ranks to earn a much-appreciated career in league football.
Raggett, of course, knew the reality of his situation better than anyone.
The impact of leaving foot in the Elland Road turf last January, as his body went in another direction was always going to be long-lasting. Two ligament problems and a broken ankle were the consequence and are the kind of injuries you don’t get over quickly.
That issue came a game after the central defender had his teeth rearranged by Ipswich Luke Chambers, but it was the freak elbow gash caused by a boot stud which contributed to missing the start of the season and a stuttering opening at Pompey.
A run of league games didn’t arrive until October, but many had already made their mind up by then on the player’s perceived limitations.
Being a central defender following arguably the top performer in that area over the past decade didn’t help matters for the former Lincoln man and, perhaps, nor did his agricultural approach for a fanbase who’d grown accustomed to seeing Matt Clarke’s marauding forward runs last term.
The numbers were in disagreement with the knocking sentiment, however, with it soon becoming clear that if Raggett started, Pompey invariably got results. In fact, before the two recent losses to Fleetwood and Coventry, his record read: P 28 W20 D5 L 3.
With a run of games arriving and an understanding with Christian Burgess developing, Raggett’s Fratton career finally had lift-off and so, it’s increasingly transpired, has his cult following among supporters.
That appreciation has gradually grown off the back of a string of no-nonsense under-the-radar displays which have contributed not just to wins, but clean sheets.
His importance to the promotion cause has become apparent and is underlined by the fact it’s now 19 starts on the spin, a return unmatched among his current team-mates.
A run of five league shutouts in six recently arrived and then came his maiden Pompey goal at Tranmere to help seal the record winning run earlier in the month.
There may be a distance to travel for Raggett to achieve the cult following of the likes of Linvoy Primus, Hermann Hreidarsson or, say, John Durnin but he’s certainly now bundling down the same road.
As much as social media can be a destructive weapon, it can also operate as a tool for good. And that we’ve witnessed as a well-natured and good-humoured Raggett love-in has ensued.
At first, it was an online video of Raggett going full Forrest Gump and charging into the goal post from a corner against Sunderland. The most popular of the clips shared neglected to show Black Cats defender Joel Lynch’s role in helping the Pompey man clatter into the woodwork, however.
Then came his goal at Prenton Park which saw a player who once called Sittingbourne and Whitstable his football homes, christened everything from Raggettinho to Seanio Raguero.
And all of that was before two Shrewsbury players were parked on their backsides by some left-field skills which promptly went viral and cemented Raggett’s place as an unlikely crowd favourite.
The Ballon d’Or shouts for the former Gillingham academy player along with the ‘Raggett for England’ chants have been noted by man who’s in on the joke and happy to play along.
You get the palpable sentiment, that, although appreciated, the man himself doesn’t place a particularly high value on being the player in the spotlight. Nor does he require it to have a sense of value.
In a season when Kenny Jackett has publicly stated a selfish element has existed in Pompey’s dressing room, it’s a selfless stance which should be appreciated.