Tears are being shed, teddies thrown out of cots, feet stamped in darkest Bermondsey. Tantrums are the order of the day. Millwall fans are feeling hurt and slighted, and d’you know wot, Guv’nor? They don’t fink it’s fair.
They have this catchy little song they sing to something vaguely resembling the tune of Rod Stewart’s “Sailing”. The melody (for want of a better word) is just about recognisable, despite the distinct lack of choirboy types among the New Den congregation. It’s sung loud and proud, if not all that sweetly, but what can you really expect from proper ‘ard ‘ooligans eh?
The thing is, the words are a bit misleading. There’s a catchy verse or two about being Millwall, Super Millwall, from The Den, and then it goes “No-one likes us, no-one likes us, no-one likes us, we don’t care.” And this is where the irony kicks in because, to judge by the reaction my few “home truths” articles about Millwall and its fans have received recently, they DO care. They care terribly, and their feelings, bless ’em, are painfully, grievously hurt. The resentment is palpable, which seems a little odd when set against the background of the misery that, over the years, these barely civilised ruffians have doled out to visiting fans. I’d normally use an “allegedly” in that last bit, but you know. Come on. Get real.
They’ve caused mayhem on the road too, whenever they’ve travelled in sufficient numbers. Happily, as they normally bring only a hundred or so to Elland Road, they tend to huddle together quietly at our gaff, being ever so well-behaved and not saying “Boo” to a goose. But generally speaking, the behaviour they like to display (if their numbers are sufficiently intimidating) to opposition fans strikes a curious contrast with the prevailing attitude if anyone has a go at them in print. Then, the collective lip starts to quiver, tears spring to the eyes and the mewling and whinging starts. This petulant attitude can reach quite a crescendo, and seems to consist mainly of childish protests along the lines of “You’re as bad as us! Pot, kettle, black!! IT’S NOT FAIR!!!!” All very disappointingly soft and lacking in the hard-as-nails, “not bovvered wot anyone else finks” image they like to portray in their little song.
So, over the past few weeks, I’ve gained a new and unfamiliar impression of your average Miwwwaww fan (they’re not very good at pronouncing their L’s darn sarf). Previously I’d thought of them mainly as squat thugs, built on troglodyte lines, eyes close-set, knuckles tattooed “Love” and “Hate” and an anchor on the forearm with “Muvver” etched beneath it; terrifying when part of a mob – which is how they would invariably operate. But in the light of the piteous squeals and squeaks of protest I’ve received lately, I’ve had to revise this image.
Now it seems to me that yer typical New Den habitué is a more sensitive soul altogether, with perhaps a rather weak chin beneath a trembling “north & south”, vulnerable blue eyes all a-brim with big fat tears – and the whole topped by the kind of golden curls you associate with that soft lad whose mum would never let him play football in the street. He’ll be a bit skinny, built more for flight than fight, and his whole demeanour will be suggestive of someone who, if anyone should raise a voice to them or speak an angry word, might very well break down altogether and run home shrieking to hide under the bed. It’s a picture at odds with popular folklore – but what else can you conclude when you hear such awful, grief-stricken and self-righteous fits of pique?
The kind of people I’ve been hearing from, so distraught and horrified that I could even dream of being critical or unkind, would appear to be the type that are quite happy being as offensive as they can get away with in the furtherance of their pursuit of happiness, but – and here’s the thing – who get extremely unhappy should anyone tell inconvenient truths about them, or make uncomfortable allegations – maybe even generalise a bit or otherwise paint a grim picture of the archetypal Millwall fan. They get so cross, it’s amusing. They take to Twitter, where they spend half their time going on about how they’re not bovvered – and the other half making it abundantly clear how awfully, painfully bovvered they are, and calling down divine judgement upon the head of the inoffensive blog that is the source of all this distress.
Such is life, I’m afraid. Sadly for the Miwwwaww fraternity, if you live by the sword you have to accept you might very well die by the sword – or even by the pen which, as any literary type will tell you, is easily the mightier of the two. It’s simply a case of suck it up, stop whinging, straighten up and fly right, all that kind of thing. Or of course, the option is there to “Carry on Crying”, if that’s what floats the Millwall boat, soft and silly as it might appear to everyone else. It’s your call, Miwwwaww fans. I’m happy to say that I couldn’t give a toss.