Yes, Gordon, they can.
It's one thing to criticise, quite another to single people out for personal abuse. It's pathetic and childish to vent one's own petty frustrations on an individual who is in no position to do anything about it.
For example, today (and as I sit in the centre satand, this will be an extremely mild version of what was happening elsewhere.) Score 0-2. Early 2nd half. Ball falls in Fleet half. Justin Skinner goes to clear, hesitates & looks up to see if a pass is on, before opting for safety. As he makes his decision, a voice to my right, in the wing stand, shouts out, "Clear it, you idiot!"
I was furious & made my fellings clear ( as all around me will testify.) Why? Surely the guy is entitled to his comment. Yes - to "Clear it." Absolutely not to "You idiot." Why not?
1. Justin is not an idiot & has been an integral part of our team for several seasons.
2. He certainly would have heard the comment & recognized that his own supporters were getting on his back. Would this inspire you to play better?
3. In any case, his hesitation was justified, there was no immediate danger & had a pass been on, it would have been infinitely preferable to a blind hack upfield.
4. The person who called it out was an inveterate coward. He certainly didn't answer my comments. More to the point, would he have the nerve to tell Skins he thinks he's an idiot to his face? Sorry, pointless, rhetorical question.
And that's the whole point.
There are pathetic, inadequate individuals who repair their own damaged self esteem by directing personal abuse at other people in an environment where they are guaranteed there will be no come back.
Criticise, by all means, but never shout, chant or sing anything from the safety of the stands that you wouldn't be prepared to say, toe to toe, on your own, to the person you are criticising.
Otherwise, you're just a sad individual, better off locked away on your own, diligently building up blisters on the palms of your hands and other parts of your anatomy.