A former Carlisle United player once did something foolish that landed him in court. He pleaded guilty to the offence, and took his punishment - yet when details appeared in the newspaper, he got all angry.

His beef, it turned out, was with the prominence of the article. "That's the last interview they'll be getting from me," he apparently said, aggrieved at his outing in the news section.

It is true that, had the offender not played for Cumbria's only professional football club, his misdemeanour would have appeared a little further back than page three.

The deal, though, cuts both ways. The principle that puts players up in lights also means the focus is a little sharper when they do something stupid, or worse.

It boils down to the badge, basically, and all that it stands for.

It can sometimes be forgotten that footballers are young men with flaws like anyone else. Knowing that the smallest mis-step can land you a heap of unwanted publicity must be a tough load to carry.

Equally, it is not something that should take much getting one's head around. The moment a signature is applied to a contract, the bargain is struck not just with employers and supporters, but a community.

Not behaving like a prat whilst in the employ of somewhere thousands of people aspire towards every week sounds like a fair agreement. The big picture could scarcely be more obvious.

The badge, the name, the club: it stands out, every day, like it or not. It means that, when used positively, it can have just as dramatic an effect in the opposite direction.

There is no need to elevate players for the sort of activities we have seen from the Blues this week. You could tell Luke Joyce was a tiny bit uncomfortable receiving a personal award as United's community player of the year when the praise and the gratitude was better shared.

It was, he said, an accolade to be passed around the dressing room and to the club's staff. It was also, he stressed, a way of highlighting the real heroes - those who are still there when the player appearances are over, who perform the rarely-seen work at places like Jigsaw Children's Hospice; who are there at the the toughest, most draining, most emotionally difficult ends of life.

They are truly deserving of the headlines and the acclaim, every hour, every day.

This is not, though, to say that United's community efforts are trivial. Quite the opposite. They matter a great deal, and it is crucial that there are players like Joyce who understand this.

Instinctively, he appreciates that the game opens doors to places we might not otherwise look. A cluster of United players with paintbrushes brings cameras and attention to a charitable facility that might not normally have been there.

It is the power of the badge, again, and those who can see the world with the broadest view can make the biggest difference. Joyce, who has made a number of more private trips to Jigsaw than Tuesday's media-covered outing, spoke in a simple but profound way about this.

"It's really hard," Joyce said, considering the reality that, for all its wonderful, inspirational colour and vibrancy, Jigsaw remains a hospice for young people. "Sometimes you might not be sure what's wrong with a particular child, and you take a little step back, not sure what to say, conscious of saying the wrong thing.

"It takes a little bit of time. That's why it's important to get to speak to the parents, and the staff, and learn about what they are all going through."

Joyce wasted no time on Tuesday in helping one of the young people in Jigsaw, Ryan, take part in a virtual football game, directing his wheelchair so that a pixellated ball could be struck.

"You hope he's enjoying that," the midfielder said, afterwards. "He can't communicate with us, as such, but he had a big smile on his face, and his mum seemed happy. If they are happy, we're chuffed to bits."

There are no apologies for highlighting this again. United's work on the EFL's "Day of Action" has been reported widely already, but there should be no limit on how far it can be mentioned, and for how long.

The school visits, the joining in with mental health football games; this was the club wearing its very best face. Again, though, United's reputation is not the biggest deal here. It is about understanding why it matters.

"I remember, when I went to school, Wigan Athletic's community people coming in to do coaching sessions," Joyce added. "I used to love that. You lived for days like that.

"If you can give those little feelings to children, when they get up in the morning and think, 'Brilliant, Carlisle are coming in today,' then great.

"As a dad, you understand it more. My little girl's started at school now and, if there are people giving up their spare time to come in and put a smile on their face, I appreciate that as a parent.

"It can create that bond, that relationship, with the community. The trips to Jigsaw have been really rewarding for myself. It lets you take that step away from football. We love the game, but it's not the be-all and end-all of life.

"It makes me think twice about everything that's important. I've got two healthy children at home who I love to bits. It makes you realise how lucky we are.

"Nobody knows what can be around the corner, or what situation you can be dealt. It's amazing to know these places [like Jigsaw] exist, and you have people here willing to help anyone, with any type of condition or illness, and also give their families a bit of respite."

Jigsaw, it can be repeated again and again, requires £2,126.46 per day in order to function. The Eden Valley Hospice, of which it is a part, needs £3.9million a year, £2.8million of which it must raise itself.

People like Ryan, who may have little or no concept of United's play-off push this afternoon, but get a different sort of kick from virtual football and other specialist activities there: that's why it matters.

The poor souls who use Jigsaw's Butterfly Room, a precious, private place where final farewells to loved ones are bade: that's why it matters.

The people who run it, the people who use it, the people who might just see a young man wearing a Carlisle United tracksuit as a momentary escape from a cruel reality right now: that's why it matters, always will, always should.

"It's wonderful to play a small part," Joyce said, on his way out of the hospice, he and his team-mates having brought a couple of hours' cheer and a streak or two of paint on the walls. A small part it will always be. In another way, though, United could scarcely do anything bigger, or better.