SPORTSPERSON of the year - stand up and take a bow, Jessica Ennis-Hill.

Whoa, I hear the exclamations now. How can the poster girl for the 2012 Olympics at which she won heptathlon gold now be declared the best when she has not competed for more than a year due to taking time out to have a baby?

Ennis-Hill has performed a feat that should prove an inspiration, though for her gallant actions she was insulted, abused and threatened by that element of 'twiterati' known as trolls but are nothing other than moronic knuckle-heads.

It was just last week when Ennis-Hill bravely put her head above the parapet over the return of convicted rapist Ched Evans to Sheffield United, where he plied his formidable striking trade before being jailed for his heinous offence.

His employers United defied increasing public opinion to allow the striker to come back to train with the Blades with the ultimate view of perhaps restoring him to his former role at the League One club.

His return sparked protests and notable resignations, the first of which was from another courageous woman, Charlie Webster. The television sports presenter quit her post as a club president at the decision to welcome back Evans, who served half of a five-year sentence in prison after being found guilty of rape.

Other high-profile resignations followed while the pressure increased when sponsors also threatened to withdraw their support from the club.

But the protest gained its maximum impetus and impact when Ennis-Hill announced she wanted the stand at Bramall Lane re-named in her honour in recognition of her astounding athletic achievements to no longer bear her name.

I would contend it was that intervention which turned the tide and led to Sheffield United declaring that Evans was not now welcome at the South Yorkshire club.

Ennis-Hill's initial reward was to be the victim of a series of tweets - ironic isn't it that such an innocent-sounding, almost poetic word can be applied to the sort of vicious vitriol and menace to spew from the addled brains of misogynistic morons - that have since, rightly, become the subject of a police investigation. Trolls they are and off their trolley they are too.

Some football fans can stray beyond the limits of support for their club. While the very word fan is obviously derived from fanatic, all too often the English game has been a haven for offenders, who, in other walks of life, would at least lose their jobs for their sins.

And while Evans remained under United's umbrella, even if just training, then that club, which boasts one of the longest and proudest histories in football's folklore fabric, their reputation was being inexorably shredded.

There is an argument, which was backed by the players' union, the Professional Footballers' Association, and which has merit that every offender deserves a second chance and the opportunity at rehabilitation.

But for Evans, who has shown little remorse, to take up at his former club as if nothing had happened does not resonate with rehabilitation. It rather smacks at the face of the seriousness of his sentence.

Rape is rape is rape. No excuses, no mitigation, no argument. No means NO.

So that is why this column today salutes the intervention of Ennis-Hill.

She could have stayed silent. And had she done so she would have been spared the despicable attacks she suffered from those armed with a mobile phone, tablet, lap-top or computer, plus fast fingers and brains fractured beyond repair.

Ennis-Hill, and before her Webster, did not opt for silence. They displayed admirable courage and conviction and football, the people's game - that's men and women, boys and girls - has been delivered a timely reminder that misogyny has no place.

Neither has racism or homophobia, which brings us to Wigan Athletic's appointment of Malky Mackay as their new manager.

Mackay is still under FA investigation for alleged racist, homophobic and sexist emails during his time in charge of Cardiff, yet less than 48 hours ago was paraded as the Latics' new boss by chairman Dave Whelan.

The latter then plunged himself in hot water by using racist language during a defence of his new manager's previous actions. Amid the outcry, Whelan later apologised, instead employing the oft-used defence that he had been "misquoted".

As rape is rape is rape, racism is racism is racism, so perhaps football is reaching a long-awaited juncture whereby it's banter banditry is no longer given stadium room. We can only hope.