Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Refreshing attitude to trouble at Millwall

Graham Fisher in Editorial, General Soccer News 22 Feb 2011


Football doesn't need or want them

There was a really refreshing reaction to crowd trouble at Millwall on Saturday in the Championship game eventually won by visiting Middlesbrough 3-2.


Missiles were thrown onto the pitch at the linesman and the Middlesbrough keeper after Millwall went 2-1 down to a hotly disputed goal. Nobody condones crowd trouble in any way and Millwall have had more to deal with than most over the years. The club released a statement that made clear their determination to rout out the minority of thugs who give the club and the game a bad name.

“As a club we have made tremendous progress over the past three years on and off the pitch. We have an excellent manager, a developing team and an ambitious board, all of whom are working very hard to see the club competing with the best.

“This cannot be allowed to be undermined by a minority who apparently believe they can do as they like. We had planned to open the lower tier of the North Stand for one of the big games we have coming up at The Den. In the light of what happened here at the weekend we will not be doing so, which hampers our attempts to increase our attendances and hits us financially.

The newspaper match reports and TV coverage made little mention of the football, and once again the name Millwall was linked in people’s minds with hooligan behaviour. This has to stop.”

That was the right thing for the club to say and few people would disagree with them.


However, it was the reaction of the two managers at the game that I would like to highlight. They didn’t condone the actions of the thuggish few, but they rightly played down the significance of the events. These idiots must not be allowed to ruin the game for the thousands at Millwall and the millions in the country who love football. They should be dealt with and then ignored. The football must go on and these people must be shown that they are not wanted.

The game was almost called off as the referee wanted to take the teams from the field and spoke to both managers about doing so. Millwall’s Kenny Jackett said,

“I’m not condoning it, but I do like the passion and enthusiasm. I didn’t think it would have been the right decision to stop the game but I told the ref to ask the Middlesbrough keeper. We felt that things would settle down, which they did. From our fans’ points of view, perhaps they felt aggrieved at one or two decisions which didn’t go their way. And some of the decisions we’ve had lately have been tough.”

Middlesbrough boss Tony Mowbray was in general agreement with Jackett,

“The referee wanted to bring the teams off but both managers didn’t think it was the right decision. What I’d say as the opposing manager is that what an asset it is to have that intensity and noise from the stands every week, but you overstep the mark when objects start coming on the pitch.”

Some arrests were made on Saturday and Millwall have confirmed that more are likely. They have confirmed that anyone found guilty of throwing missiles on to the pitch will be banned for life.


That is the right thing to do. Clubs and the police must get these people out of the crowd and players, managers and officials must show that they will not be bullied or intimidated and that the football will carry on whatever they try to do.

Sadly, the FA will also want to get involved and the chances of them adopting a sensible approach to the matter are about as likely as that organisation being sensible about anything else! Their spokesperson said,

“We will await the referee’s report on the incidents and seek the observations of the club.”

Let us hope the FA can be as sensible about the matter as the two managers and Millwall have been.


Graham Fisher



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