'Does your missus know you're here?'

Privacy: Garry Flitcroft, the captain of Blackburn Rovers, faces the jeers of the fans as legal gag on the press is finally removed
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The Independent Online

After a £200,000 law suit, numerous column inches and a nationwide guessing game lasting almost a year, the question on the lips of all but a handful of hardcore Blackburn Rovers fans yesterday was: "Garry who?"

As Garry Flitcroft led his team on to the pitch for its crucial relegation battle against Leicester, the public were left to muse over one of the biggest anti-climaxes in recent media history.

Brushing aside the heckles on the field, the 29-year-old midfielder sought to dismiss the details about his personal life that were splashed over yesterday's newspapers as a private matter.

A club statement read: "We would always hope that all employees of Blackburn Rovers Football Club would act in a responsible and acceptable manner when representing the club and we would never condone any behaviour which threatened its good name.

"It seems this case has gained notoriety as much for the implications on privacy laws as for football. Our understanding is that nothing unlawful occurred or is alleged. This is essentially a private matter."

It is some 11 months since the married father-of-two first found out the Sunday People planned to expose his adultery, and set out on a rocky legal path in a bid to prevent them from doing so.

The paper planned to publish kiss-and-tell stories based on interviews with two women, a lap dancer, Paula James, and a nanny, Helen Hammonds, who claimed to have had affairs with the former England under-21 international. But by last September, he had successfully obtained a High Court injunction preventing his identity from being divulged.

However, earlier this month, the ruling was overturned on appeal and Flitcroft was given three weeks to challenge the decision. On Friday, the time on his stopwatch finally ran out.

Yesterday, he led Blackburn Rovers out for a relegation dogfight at Leicester City's Filbert Street ground.

Even before kick-off, Flitcroft was taunted by a group of home supporters chanting "Does your missus know you're here?" A small number of Blackburn fans had obviously come prepared to defend their captain. A banner was held aloft above the away section proclaiming Flitcroft as their hero, and Blackburn fans chanted his name early in the first half.

As the game got under way, Flitcroft remained largely anonymous in the centre of a lacklustre Blackburn midfield. Leicester quickly took the lead through Paul Dickov in the eighth minute, and attention was turned to the serious business taking place on the pitch.