Only A Game? - Let he or she without sin cast the first stone

Derry City player Ruaidhri Higgins.
Derry City player Ruaidhri Higgins.

Shouting abuse at the team you claim to support is akin to punching yourself in the face.

There is such a thing as constructive criticism but roaring and shouting at a player each time he touches the ball is utterly self-defeating and, let’s call a spade a spade, idiotic.

I sat listening to Rory Patterson and Ruaidhri Higgins at last week’s Fan’s Forum in the Derry City Social Club.

Ruaidhri and Rory recollected their own experiences of playing in the red and white jersey only to be subjected to abuse from their own supporters.

Fans should be permitted to vent their frustration with a player. They pay their entrance fee so they are perfectly entitled to do so. However, what I can’t understand is why fans berate players from the first minute of a game until the 90th.

I listened to Ruaidhri and Rory and it was evident from their years spent playing football that abuse from their own fans was something they could easily deal with. Be that as it may, both men stressed that shouting abuse from the sidelines can have a detrimental effect on younger players like Michael Duffy and Ryan Curran.

Sitting amongst the fans is something that I don’t get to enjoy as much as I would like but the last time I was at a Derry City match when I wasn’t reporting was earlier this season.

It was a mid-week game. Two men who because of their age (mid fifties) should know better, proceeded to hurl the most moronic and counter-productive abuse at Ruaidhri Higgins. And I am not exaggerating.

I don’t know if Ruaidhri heard what they were saying but I remember thinking he’d need more than a thick skin to deflect their harsh sentiments.

It might come as a big surprise to some Derry City fans but footballers are human and just because they play football for a living does not mean they are any less likely than you or I to have a bad day at the office. Footballers have their off days too.

Imagine if every time you had a bad day at work, you had customers standing over your shoulder shouting at you every time you did something. It’s not a nice scenario.

There are ways and means of conveying your sense of disappointment or frustration with a player - a blog, a letter to your local newspaper. If you think effing and blinding at him at the Brandywell is the way forward then perhaps Derry City F.C. would be better served if you stayed at home where your poisonous words cannot be heard.

There’s nothing to admire in watching a 40-year-old or 50-year-old man or woman in a Derry City jersey roar criticism at his or her own players.

Derry City have quite a few notable young players coming through the ranks at the minute. Michael Duffy and Ryan Curran look like real talents. Instead of giving them a future tinged with fear of being shouted at by their own fans, let’s get behind them and support them when they, like so many of us, have a bad day at the office.

No one’s perfect and the sooner some Derry City supporters rid themselves of unrealistic expectations of both their players and the team, the better chance the club will have of winning silverware.