Ian Holloway: the Acceptable Face of Gutter Club Millwall – by Rob Atkinson


Holloway: voice of reason

Holloway: voice of reason

We’ve got it over with early this season – our annual trip to the murky bowels of Bermondsey, wherein resides the most singularly awful football club, with the most viciously depraved and uncivilised fans, anywhere outside of Istanbul. Yes, we’ve been there and done that for another year at least – it’s a safe bet that everywhere else we visit, with the possible exception of Huddersfield, will seem like the acme of culture and class by comparison with the degrading experience that is Millwall.

Over the past few seasons, the menu has hardly varied. For starters, a few dribbling morons scattered around their soulless Meccano stadium, Turkish flags waving, idiot leers on ugly faces as they parade their specially-purchased Galatasaray replica shirts. Then the main course of rancid chanting, as the assembled cretins rejoice in the murder of two football fans far from home, over 14 years ago. And for dessert, an insipid performance from our own heroes, who should really be inspired into a defiantly effective performance by such naked hostility, but who seem instead more inclined to surrender meekly.

Then, usually, instead of coffee and After Eight mints, it’s some piteous, whining self-justification and excuses from Millwall staff who wish to avoid criticism of their club for the abject behaviour of its ape-like supporters. By and large, it’s not a good day out for Leeds fans down Bermondsey way.

This season, though, there has been a refreshing change. Most of the pre-ordained programme of events proceeded pretty much as described above – with a slight shift of emphasis from celebrating death to rejoicing over sexual abuse – but the post-match reaction differed from previous years, in one significant and encouraging respect. Ian Holloway, the Millwall manager and a man worthy of admiration both for his achievements and for his freely-expressed and pungent views on the game, actually came out and condemned the rabble that hang like a millstone around the neck of anyone trying to create a better image for the Lions. Reacting to the home fans’ chants about Jimmy Savile (chants that the more self-righteous Millwall fans probably think represent an improvement on the usual ones about Turks and knives), Holloway said:

“I don’t think the chants were right because they’re disrespecting [Savile’s victims]. What he did is an absolute disgrace. Let’s stop and think about what he has actually done, yeah?”

“That’s the most important thing and we don’t see it. ‘Oh it’s a bit of banter’. It isn’t funny, is it? I don’t think so. Nobody likes a laugh more than me but I’m respectful, and that’s what I’m trying to show to Leeds United. They’re a great club, they come here with so many fans and want to be treated the same as anybody else.”

This represents such a departure from what we had come to expect of the Millwall apologists in previous seasons, that you almost have to pinch yourself and read it twice. We’re so used to standard fare of sickeningly tasteless chanting from the Lions’ tiny but viciously-warped home crowd, with obligatory excuses to follow as night follows day, that such a refreshingly honest and candid reaction comes as a massive – albeit pleasant – surprise, even allowing for Holloway’s track record of honesty, common sense and straight talking. The Lions boss went on to say:

“It is a really, really important issue if football supporters think they can go into a ground and sing songs about someone who has had a crash and aren’t here anymore, how disrespectful is that?”

“It goes against what football is about and to me that is obscene. That brings football into disrepute. I’ve been fined for disrepute by the FA God knows how many times. But I try and get people to be respectful and that’s all I want to say.”

“I’ve said it before the game ‘please come to the game, please enjoy yourself, go home safely and here we go let’s have a look at how good our team is’. Surely that’s the way forward.”

Holloway concluded his remarks by referring to Leeds United again as “a great club”, something guaranteed to stick in the craw of any chip-on-the-shoulder home fan. “They’ve got so many fans,” he said. “If I had a chance, I’d have a beer with one or two of them if I could.” That’s a sentiment likely to be reciprocated by many of United’s following, for whom the usual bitterness of defeat at this unwelcoming venue will have been sweetened somewhat by such welcome remarks from the architect of our downfall.

It’s undeniably good to get the Millwall experience over with so early in the piece, and to move swiftly on to the rest of what promises to be a long, hard season for Leeds United. But wherever we might travel during the remainder of the marathon Championship campaign, we’re unlikely to encounter such frankness and candour as Ian Holloway treated us to after this New Den encounter. It’s to be hoped that enough of his club’s fans will listen to and understand what he has said, to maybe make a difference as and when this fixture rolls around again. That has to be doubtful; but the fact that the Lions now have a man in charge who will not subscribe to the usual mealy-mouthed platitudes expressed by his predecessors on other such inauspicious occasions – that has to bode well for the prospects of introducing some primitive level of civilisation to what is a deeply flawed football club with a body of support to match.

Well, anyway – we can always hope. Thanks, Ian – you’re a gentleman

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28 responses to “Ian Holloway: the Acceptable Face of Gutter Club Millwall – by Rob Atkinson

  1. Once Hockaday gets the arse, his comments won’t do him any harm if he’s in the running for the Leeds managerial position.

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    • That’s just it, though – Holloway is a manager and very much his own man. Can’t see Cellino wanting him, neither could I see Holloway fancying a “head coach” position at Leeds United.

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  2. Just can’t get my head round the “coach” thing. Another import from the USA . What’s wrong with managers and why do we have this obsession with interfering and changing everything in the name of improvement. Can you imagine referring to Revie, Shankly, Mercer as “coaches” Call me an old Luddite, but I miss the old game

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  3. The dreaded cup final for Millwall against Leeds at “The Den of Filthy Scum”, gets worse as every season goes by and has turned into a seasonal freak show of controversial hatred and jealousy, against a now extremely weak team of players representing Leeds United.
    The way the Scumwall players and fans celebrated the goals, you would have thought that they were playing against the best team in the world, rather than the worst Leeds team in the clubs history.
    Well done to Holloway, he will certainly get under the skin of those sub-normal Scumwall fans for daring to disagree with their sick Savile chants, but what do you make of the Morison last minute injury?
    It was very convenient for Morison to get a last minute injury to avoid playing against his best mates and he showed his true colours, by sitting on the Leeds bench, with that stupid smile on his face.
    Morison should never play for Leeds ever again.

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  4. must say as a millwall fan, I was mystified by Morrison’s abscence as there was no mention of an injury in the match commentary, I was also puzzled at why your manager left Smith out for so long when he seemed to be the only forward who threatened us.,As for the chanting, you couldn’t hear it on the internet commentary, but needless tto say, there are morons at all clubs who you just wish would go away, preferably under a bus.
    I have a great relatiionship up here in Harrogate with the leeds fans at both my jobs and some of them meet up with our lads and have a few wets before the game and they sit with each other at the game, this is the way it always used to be and should be, i know being nearly 65, in my youth we used to lend opposing supporters our scarves etc and escort them to their cars if we got beaten 4 or five nil to prevent any harm coming to them so why all this animosity now.
    I do think that some of your supporters don’t really give your players a chance, they have only been together for a few days or weeks, it takes time to gel as a team. Long may our true supporters enjoy going to the games no matter what the result.

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    • A fine and even-handed response, thanks. I wish there were more ‘Wall fans like you. I also envy your appointment of Holloway, he’ll have your squad adding up to more than the sum of its parts.

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  5. All i want this season is some consistent honesty, courage, a game plan and a modicum of skill from EVERY player pulling on a white shirt..I cant accept any less than some real pride that they are pro footballers on bloody decent wages playing for one of the 20 biggest clubs in england and still probably in the top 250 in the world.

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  6. sniffersshorts

    Morons always bay in the pack small minded idiots ….. Not detracting from our poor performance we were woeful , as for Morrison he is just as bad as his old club, the blood runs deep he is just a millwall thug through and through , should be got rid of quickly , he will only rot in the lower leagues as he is shit.

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  7. Morrison…milwall..birds of a feather flock together..so the saying goes.maz.

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  8. AllWhiteNow

    I just won’t go to Scumwall and pay to be treated like that – the ‘away fans walkway’ cage is one of the most depressing experiences in football. Even more depressing than our traditional capitulation at this venue. The Morison business stinks. Rotten. What the F### is that about and why? I am not happy. New season – same old same old. It really is going to be a long campaign but, hey, things can only get better – can’t they?

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  9. Mike Blower

    Do you not sing of air crashes? Is that not just as disgraceful? That’s not to justify it at all but shouldn’t you firstly remove the plank from your own eyes?

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    • Firstly, no I don’t – and it’s largely a thing of the past among Leeds fans in general. Supporters of Millwall and Man U probably haven’t noticed, but fans generally have got their act together since as far back as Hillsborough. Certainly it’s only those two clubs that make such a point of celebrating the murder of two Leeds fans, to the extent of the mass purchase of Turkish flags and banners or Galatasaray shirts. You say you’re not justifying anything, but what is your comment other than a childish “well you lot do nasty things so why shouldn’t we?” It’s about time Millwall AND Man U fans grew up, took a bit of criticism like men instead of petulant brats, and realised that they’re out of step with current football fan standards of acceptability.

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      • We still have a few nobheads that do the runway thing rob, its not all whiter than white, but yeah our club has steadily improved away from the whole holigan thing pretty much since I started going In the mid 80s, which back then we were one the worst by a mile, only millwall, man u, Chelsea and maybe west ham, cardiff, Birmingham and liverpool were as bad. Thing is most of them clubs have moved on, millwall still seem to have some mindset from 30 years ago. It’s a shame, there a genuinely working class club and the club Itself wants to improve, if it werent for the various nutters theyre the sort of London club I would like over say the posh boys of Chelsea.

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  10. The hock played the same team that did nothing last season and guess what they did nothing again looks like we are building a smart price Italian team feed up with smart price football been sold at m&s prices mc got two weeks to splash the cash because we have been down this road before same old shit just a different shovel

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  11. Patrick Hogan

    Why is such behaviour as you’ve described at ‘The Den Of Iniquity’ never dealt with by the FL, FA, or police come to that matter? I have the nasty feeling that if it was promulgated at ER by Leeds fans it would be.

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  12. Michel Dyson

    Singing about what Saville does to your mother is the level of sub-human mentality we have to deal with. If you are a sports shop in Millwall,Turkish flags are asked for you’d think they’d have the decency to refuse,knowing full well what they are for.

    As for Sat we didn’t even start till after half time. Silvestre deserves credit. Besides that hard to find a positive thing to say and Hunt has to go! A striker who never scores? Great posts and credit to the decent Millwall fan who posted.

    The Hock must know the clock is already ticking on him. Just ask the Huddersfield ex-manager.

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    • Silvestre is looking a good buy, saw him vs boro, looks like with a bit more experience he could be our best keeper since schmeicel

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  13. Fair Play to Ian Hollaway- decent man and underrated manager. On a slightly different note I unusually found myself agreeing with Paul Walsh on soccer saturday regarding the managerial position at Leeds United. He said that Hockaday was in a no-win situation in that if he does well Massimo will get all the credit and if he does bad it will all be his fault and he will be sacked- It’s a situation that is becoming more prevalent in the mass finance world of modern day football-no pun intended– The new manager already seems in a perilous position and you do wonder why Massimo appointed such a relatively unknown coach? What is absolutely certain is that he cannot expect to put up with such a lack lustre performance from his team- aye and yes I did take an interest in the goings on down the den this saturday and it sounded turgid at best from your lads. I don’t think Massimo will allow too many of this type of performance but you have to ask yourself – what type of manager does he want- a yes man like Ashley has at Newcastle or a man with some dignity, self respect and more importantly a desire and ability to get the best out of his players, a man like Holloway dare I suggest. The next few games will tell us all we need to know I think. NUFC.

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  14. Michel Dyson

    If Cellino wants to run the club it’s the MANAGER’S job to pick the team,etc. I think we’ll improve once the players settle and the Italians integrate,hopefully.

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  15. I am Millwall

    A fella who most would call a chap

    I don’t like the slagging of my club but for what it’s worth I find any chant of your 2 lads both family men losing their lives disgusting

    Please believe me Leeds supporters any idiot who thinks they are all that singing songs about Chris and Kev are muggy pond life

    Rip to them both

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  16. Makes me laugh. Leeds are just as bad as Millwall. You look at everything through rose tinted glasses.there are quite a few leeds thugs who are the same as at Millwall. Your just fooling yourself if you put yourself into the same category as fulham.

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  17. On a football front, that was the worse leeds performance ive seen for years. The league 1 side was a lot better and would thrash the current leeds side. Like a lot of millwall we love morrison but im glad he is with you as I think he is over the hill. No disrespect If morrison is the best you have your in a very very sorry state. Thats even worse than us last year!. It would make sense as Leeds looked honestly worse than us last season. Its all about the karma and you should look at all your comments re millwall last year when you glorified in the certainty of us being relegated. That sort of childish attitude always bites you in the backside. So glad we have ollie what a great manager. Not sure if you would agree but being a bit leftfield like brian clough, I couldnt see him doing well at leeds. You need a manager like Jacket. He always looked perfect for you.

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  18. Pingback: Police-Basher Holloway Needs to Recognise the Millwall Fan Problem – by Rob Atkinson | Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything

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