IT used to be that if someone wanted to hurl profanities at a footballer and accuse them of being born out of wedlock they would have to wait until a Saturday afternoon. Not anymore.

Nowadays, you can pick up your phone and send vitriolic abuse at pretty much anyone you please from the comfort of your toilet seat.

At least back in the day the individual words could be drowned out in the crowd, or you might be shamed into selectively choosing the verbal brickbats you are about to fling at your victim. Now, all bets are off.

And it’s not just players from rival teams that are targets for abuse, oh no. Did your left-back fail to track his man? Well, that’s fair game to get the app open and call him a c***. Striker missed a penalty, eh? You can have the message labelling him a useless b****** waiting on him coming out of the showers.

Most journalists suffer from this sort of thing too. It used to be the odd letter into the editor, but now readers have various instantaneous ways of telling you how crap you are. I have no issue with that, most are probably right.

Mercifully, barring the occasional accusations of being of both a protestant and catholic background, I haven’t personally had too much abuse. Higher profile colleagues aren’t so fortunate, and while criticism comes with the territory, personal abuse should not.

Yesterday was National Mental Health Day, and social media was refreshingly awash with posts urging people to speak out if they were struggling with their mental wellbeing, and espousing the need to be kind to one another. I wonder though how many of those well-meaning posters have also felt it is ok to direct abhorrent abuse towards a footballer who just happens to have irked them in some way.

You may wonder why footballers bother having social media accounts at all, but then again, why shouldn’t they? They are young men and entitled to them like anyone else. More and more players are being turned off from such interaction with the football public though.

Two of Scotland’s top players have felt compelled to delete their social media accounts recently after making individual errors amidst long periods of consistent excellence.

Unbelievably, Scotland captain Andy Robertson, who won a Champions League medal with Liverpool in June, had to delete his Twitter account after being on the receiving end of abuse from his own ‘supporters’ after giving away a penalty against Napoli.

Earlier this week, his international teammate Ryan Christie was the subject of abuse from a section of the Celtic support for getting sent off early in the defeat to Livingston. His dad, Charlie, said the player was still feeling down at the Scotland training camp because of the messages he had received. Is this really what the trolls were setting out to achieve?

This is a player who has battled back through many dark months of rehab, with the facial injuries he received in the line of duty for Celtic in last season’s Scottish Cup final particularly horrific, to come back to his best. He has scored 11 goals in 21 appearances for his club this season already, and this is the thanks he gets after one mistake?

Thankfully, the vast majority of Celtic supporters are behind Christie, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there is some sort of visible show of that support when he steps out for his club once more after his suspension. After all, despite everything that social media would have you think, I believe the majority of supporters are still decent. Let’s not allow abuse to go over the line, and better yet, let’s keep it humorous and to the terraces where it all adds to the match-going experience.

If you don’t like that? Well, my Twitter handle is at the top of the page…


THE takeover at Partick Thistle seems to have gone a little quiet over recent days, with chairman David Beattie explaining that the club are in a back-and-forth with the SFA who have questions they would like answered about proposed majority shareholder, NewCity Capital. This process, he stated, could be completed in as little as three weeks. Two of which, have now come and gone.

The good grace that Beattie enjoys with Thistle supporters from his first spell at the helm was further enhanced a couple of weeks back as he filled the dugout with Jags legends, Ian McCall taking charge once more with Alan Archibald returning as one of his assistants.

That further strengthened Beattie's credibility, because if guys with the Thistle credentials those two have are lining up behind him, surely he must have the best interests of the club at heart?

Maybe so, but still, developments from Barnsley this week may well have aroused suspicion once more among the Jags faithful.

Having gained promotion to the Championship last season, Paul Conway sanctioned the sale of some of their top talent and then didn't use the funds raised to replace them.

The season started predictably poorly, and now their popular manager Daniel Stendel has paid the price.

Irate Barnsley fans have now turned on their owners, and Thistle fans will be praying they haven't just had a glimpse into their own future.