Comment: Fans who can't handle Windass wind-up are thin-skinned

It was a simple gesture but one that has provoked a mangled mess of opinion. As Josh Windass peeled away after contributing to Rangers' 2-0 win over Partick Thistle at Firhill on Tuesday night, he put his finger to his lips in a silent gesture that screamed 'shut it' to the club's own fans.

Rangers' Josh Windass celebrates his goal against Partick. Picture: Alan Harvey/SNS

A victim of the club’s boo boys, Windass has been the focus of 
criticism despite netting 10 goals this term. One of those targeted after Graeme Murty’s men succumbed to Hibernian on Saturday, punters accused him of regularly going missing in games and questioned if he was Premiership standard. Some made it clear they wanted him shipped out.

A few days later, obviously fed up with the griping and having had to listen to everyone else’s view on him, he made his own feelings known.

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Surely that is fine. After all it wasn’t two fingers, and given what passes for acceptable in the minds of many week in week out, in stands around the various grounds, it couldn’t be construed as grotesquely offensive. It was simply a guy who has had to roll with the punches getting in a wee jab of his own. If the fans dish it out, they have to be able to take it.

But the problem is that too many trolls, too many punters, who are perfectly content, some almost gleeful when it comes to eating away at players’ confidence rather than supporting them, have paper-thin skins. They want everyone to hear their opinion, without allowing others a counter-view.

How very dare he, seemed to be the popular refrain, from those who trotted out the well-worn motto of every fan who finds it acceptable to abuse their own, insisting, as they always do, that it is their right as they pay good money to attend games, good money that helps fund the wages of Mr Windass and Co.

It is a bizarre argument, given the fact that few would believe it acceptable if a customer of theirs, who contributes to their wages, wandered into their workplace, whether in a shop, a law firm, the council roadworks or a restaurant and started hurling abuse at them and demanding they are “punted from their job”. Some may have to hold their hands up and admit to having had a bad day at the office but few would happily stand there and submit themselves to sustained vitriol without biting back. Why? Because they are human, emotions come into play and most people will only take so much.

Fans seem to understand that when they see one of their own finally snap and let fly with a “get it up you” towards opposition fans who have spent the match goading them, pointing the finger of blame at others for winding up their man but, surely a barrage of abuse from your own is more hurtful, more inflammatory than an afternoon of others casting doubts on your parentage etc.

Rangers boss Murty will speak to Windass and discuss the gesture and, as tends to be the case with most clubs, the Ibrox player will probably end up having to apologise. But, while he may come to regret the backlash, it is doubtful he will truly regret the deed.

There was a similar bout of negativity at Tynecastle on Saturday where the much-talked about Gorgie
noise was more of a hindrance than a help to the home players, as they struggled to meet expected standards but still secured three points against St Johnstone.

Boos sounded around the ground and while many felt it was their right as paying customers, former player Jimmy Sandison was not the only one questioning the sense of it.

Speaking on Hearts TV he assured fans that little good would come of it, saying it only dents confidence and encourages the other team. On Twitter several argued against that, even when other former pros came along to offer similar insight but there is a difference between a fanatic and a supporter, in the truest sense of the word. Often that is simply knowing what to say and when and how to say it. In certain circumstances, as Windass suggested, it is simply best to accept that if you can’t say something nice, you shouldn’t say anything at all.