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Fans condemn 'pathetic' abuse of Collingwood forward Ash Johnson

Jarred Cross -

Footy fans have rallied to condemn ugly abuse directed towards Collingwood forward Ash Johnson after the 26-year-old was subbed out early in his club's loss to Sydney on Friday.

Johnson is understood to have taken down his social media accounts following a wave of backlash from users after failing to capitalise on his opportunity back in the senior side to start the season.

National Indigenous Times has not seen racial vilification directed towards the Magpies forward.

After failing to hit the scoreboard and collecting two disposals against the Giants in the opening round, Johnson was taken from the ground after spraying his second attempt at goal wide mid-way through the Pies' 33-point loss to the Swans.

Post match, Collingwood coach Craig McRae conceded it would be difficult to keep Johnson side for next week's match against St Kilda after going 0-2 to start the year.

"We want to back our players in. We want to be a coaching panel that backs players in, and we said that openly to Ash," McRae said.

"We backed him and gave him a chance. It looks like it's gonna be hard to keep his spot in the team now, but that doesn't mean he's out forever."

With the hard assessment, the reigning premiership coach had positive reinforcements for the struggling star.

"You might be one or two weeks (Johnson's out), I don't know," McRae said.

"Just go back and be the Ash we love. Jumping to the ball, take your marks, finish your goals, work for others. The things that are right in front of him is a good indication of what's right in front of us (the challenge). Get back to work, be the best version of yourself and go show everyone else."

Collingwood has not publicly commented on the alleged abuse directed at Johnson through supporter groups have jumped to get behind the forward and hold others going too far to account.

Popular Collingwood fan page 'swoopluke' came to Johnson's defence on Saturday.

"He's one of us," the post accompanying a photo of Johnson read.

"Let me just say, the absolutely vile disgusting f***ing shit I've seen in comments across all social platforms regarding Ash has been gross."

The page was critical of "pathetic" behaviour and made asked for users to "be f***ing better".

Sydney Swans online fan page 'The Swans Blog' also got behind the opposition star.

"It's not often I'm compelled to write about opposition players and opposition teams outside of the context of games against them," the wrote in a post.

"Last night was unfortunately another disappointing night for Ash Johnson on the field, but off the field it was appalling. His own supporter base and OTHER AFL fans harassed him and bashed him so much that he deleted his socials.

"We've seen the same thing happen with our own fans and players down on form. Mental Health is no joke. Even though he's not with the club, as supporters of AFL we should rally around when disgusting behaviour threatens them."

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