Thank Goodness for Millwall as Leeds United Stumble Again – by Rob Atkinson


Millwall fans react with typical sportsmanship to Rotherham's late winner

Millwall fans react with typical sportsmanship to Rotherham’s late winner

It’s never good to be reflecting on the loss of a two goal lead. It’s even worse when you’re denied the euphoria of that lead in the first place, due to a glum premonition that Leeds United were flattering to deceive and that it would be all downhill from here. That was the situation at Elland Road yesterday; when I should have been overjoyed at Rudy Austin‘s terrific strike putting daylight between the Whites and a more than decent Watford outfit, instead I had this horrible feeling that it was all about to go pear-shaped – that we were going to be stung by a second swarm of annoying insects in our own backyard over the space of a few weeks – and I said so to my neighbour, predicting the eventual 2-3 defeat. She did not appreciate my pessimism one little bit.

Sadly, my glass-half-full prediction came to pass, much to my horror and much to the disgust of my fellow fan, who still isn’t talking to me. But I’m not going to take the blame, nor am I about to accept the title of Jonah. The bare fact is that two-nil leads should be built upon, used as a basis for grinding the opposition into the floor, giving your own followers a rare day off from biting their nails down to the elbows through fear and tension. They should not be a signal for relaxing, backing off, becoming complacent and offering hope to what should be a doomed enemy. That’s basic professionalism, surely. And Leeds have form for this kind of capitulation; for snatching defeat from the very jaws of victory. It’s nowhere near good enough: as fans, we not only have a right to be upset and disappointed – it’s positively our duty. After twenty minutes on Saturday, I should have been thinking that Leeds were going to answer my prayers for a fine victory in tribute to my late Dad who passed away this week. The fact that I was right instead to be so pessimistic obviously gives me no pleasure at all, especially in those sad circumstances.

However, all is not gloom and doom. If we had won yesterday, then the value of the victory would have been for and of itself, rather than with any slim hopes of pushing for play-offs and the unlikely like. The midweek 0-2 defeat at Brighton should have choked off any unwise, sudden optimism on that score – and yesterday’s surrender to the Hornets, in the wake of that abject pecking from the Seagulls, confirmed that we certainly won’t be departing this league in the upward direction. But it looks increasingly certain that we’re safe also from any plummet through the trapdoor below. For that, we can thank our good friends from Bermondsey, Millwall FC, whose team and fans were both on familiar form at Rotherham yesterday; the former cravenly sinking to yet another defeat, the latter launching one of their mob frenzy attacks on those who simply wished to watch or police a game of football.

You can’t say anything too nasty about Millwall, as some of their fans are delicate little flowers who take offence easily and tend to run crying and complaining if some Big Bad Blog should be too overtly critical. The curious dichotomy of fans who indulge in what some might term deeply uncivilised behaviour, side by side with those who cry foul should anyone raise a peep of protest, will not be lost on connoisseurs of bitter irony. Riotous scenes at Rotherham’s weirdly-named New York Stadium were tiresomely familiar to anyone who has followed the touring habits of the Millwall faithful. Those images of violence will not attract any sympathy for manager Ian Holloway‘s previously-expressed view that his club’s fans had cleaned up their act and should be free of the travel restrictions that saw their following at Leeds the other week reduced to one man and his dog. On this evidence, the movements of the Millwall away following must continue to be subject to the most stringent controls, as they are clearly incapable of conducting themselves as adults and should not be trusted to do so.

On the pitch, things worked out very well for Rotherham (and indeed Leeds) – and ominously badly for the Lions. They too chucked away a lead – only one goal in their case, but the outcome was the same. In what was a genuine relegation six-pointer, Rotherham – who could have found themselves ahead of their opponents only on goal difference – now have the luxury of a six point gulf between them and Millwall, who are in real danger of being cut adrift of safety along with Blackpool and Wigan, who also both keep losing, and who look ever more certainly doomed.

For Leeds, the Millwall defeat was shiny bright good news, as it preserves a healthy ten point margin over the bottom three. With the rate at which the clubs at the lower end pick up their meagre ration of points, and with just twelve games to go, it seems highly unlikely that United will now be dragged into the dogfight (fingers crossed, touch wood). It looks as though we’re safe – and our unlikely saviours are indeed those cheeky, chirpy, loveable cockneys from down Bermondsey way who, by their noble self-sacrifice, will see the Whites survive while they themselves take the big drop.

Leeds, then, face what appears to be a dead rubber of a remainder to the season. They should be able to pick up the few victories still needed to confirm Championship status for next time around, and they can afford to view the scramble for safety lower down from a lofty and impervious position – and with a certain amount of malicious glee. None of that detracts from the bleak dose of reality that Watford served us yesterday, nor does it assuage the pain and frustration of defeat from a winning position – but in a dog-eat-dog league, there are compensations in the greater pain of others.

Well done to Watford for showing the character to come back from the dead yesterday – and well done to Rotherham for a similar feat. Shame on the Millwall fans who have besmirched their club’s name for the umpteenth time – and let’s hope that Leeds learned a few lessons this weekend ahead of the visit of Whites fan Mick McCarthy and his high-flying Ipswich Town side on Wednesday. If the Whites can get a result in that game, the day after Middlesbrough have (fingers crossed again) put another nail in the Millwall coffin, then perhaps we can all relax a little more, and look forward to the summer – and some very necessary regrouping.

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41 responses to “Thank Goodness for Millwall as Leeds United Stumble Again – by Rob Atkinson

  1. David Dean

    Very good as usual, Rob. I had the same feeling at Yelly Roared yesterday thinking of Watford coming back from 0-2 to 7-2 at home to Millwall. We lost to Brighton in midweek, not the Bees but yesterday we looked a good side until we were 2-0 up. Good to know it didn’t really matter.

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    • Cheers David, I shall review and correct – glad someone’s more awake than I am!

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    • Namorrodor

      Oh that we had beaten Millwall 7-2! Sadly, it was only 3-1 – mind you, we still have to play them away…
      Blackpool were the poor unfortunates on the end of the 7-2 scoreline.

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  2. Here’s me thinking I am the only doom merchant. As soon as that goal went in for Watford I had a feeling I was going to be shot. You said it all. When we are good we are brilliant, when we are not we are suicidal. The highs and lows this club inflicts on the human body is excruciating. My wife is getting fed up of me not being hungry when she has slaved in the kitchen. One consolation though, loving this club is the best diet you could ask for.

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  3. Sorry to hear about your dad, Rob. Glad you pointed out the behaviour, yet again of the Millwall ‘fans’. Perhaps Holloway will now refrain from defending them!!! Like yourself I had a feeling it was not going to end well for us yesterday. If nothing else, we are consistent in our inconsistency!

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    • Thanks man. I’d really hoped, selfishly, that Leeds would do it for my old Dad yesterday. I imagine he’ll be having a good old moan about it right now, wherever he is…

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  4. As a Hornet – you are far too worried – you are mid table right now and with Mowatt / Cook and Byram have a great future – we are just glad you got rid of Poleon who for good reason we hate with a passion!

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  5. To Royston – thanks man, you’ve got my back πŸ™‚

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  6. Sorry to hear about your father, Rob..The real tribute will come next season when we go up as champions πŸ™‚

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  7. Nice blurb Rob – i do enjoy reading them Cheers!
    Hellsie – WE ARE LEEDS Aussie!

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  8. Belfast White

    Hi Rob. Sadly I had the same final score as you when they pulled one back. Are our young guns good enough to give the club a good future? How many would you replace so that 2-0 could have become a good basis for a deserved home win against a smaller club?

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    • A lot of the ingredients are there, I honestly think Some augmentation and fine tuning in summer – is it really worth bothering with loans now? – and you never know.

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  9. “if they get one before half time we’re in trouble”…Is what I said to the person next to me a few moments after we had scored a wonder goal and gone 2.0 up .Such a prediction indicates two things..1…,Watford have the best squad in the Championship, and.. 2,.. I dont trust Leeds to hang on to a lead.
    I have had my eye on Watford since they started importing Italians a few seasons back. It worked, possibly due to Zola being on site at the time. I was delighted that we seemed to be emulating their Italian approach. Guess what? We try it and it fails (Partly).
    At the start of the season I watched a feature on Watford’s squad and it seemed difficult to imagine that they would fail to get promotion this term. They started slowly yesterday but they then played several killer through balls that cut us to pieces, helped by a large amount of space in front of our defence, big enough to open a Garden Centre, with ample parking. (But no buses).

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  10. On a seperate note….This weeks fashion observation..
    They say you end up looking like your pets.
    Tim Sherwood looks stressed out, tired and red eyed as Villa look doomed. Couple this with his blue eyes shining through the purple redness and you have the classic claret and blue of Aston Villa. So even if things dont improve for the Villa this season, at least their managers face will not clash with their famous shirts. Silver lining!

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  11. Hi Rob from a new poster. Commiserations on the loss of your Dad. I thought of my late Dad(1978) yesterday as my son and I took my oldest Grandson (age 6) to his very first match, passing on the LUFC link to the next generation of our family as my Dad had passed it to me. Despite the result he seemed to love the spectacle and the atmosphere and I know my Dad would have been thrilled to see him there. As we trudged home we were explaining to him that such outcomes were all part of following LUFC and so much better than glory seeking by attaching himself to a team which won more often. He seemed to agree and asked his Dad, “Could we get season tickets like Grandad?” I hope you do one day little man I thought.

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    • Thanks Dave great story. I lost my first game at ER too, in fact my first 5 league games were defeats to nil. Not an auspicious start, but I was hooked from the first minute. Hope your grandson is too.

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  12. The only good thing to come out of yesterdays throw away game was Millwall’s defeat and the 10 point safety cushion is still there, thankfully.
    Millwall’s usual sporting behaviour, by their huge 600 away following, was their usual 1970’s caveman style .
    My main concern is that if Leeds don’t get back into winning ways in the next two games, the points gap between Leeds and Millwall could get smaller, because Millwall are not going to lose every game from now until the end of the season, even though I wish they would, just to finally get rid of them from this league.
    Leeds must win at Wigan, in a game which is now a six pointer, because Wigan are now getting closer to Millwall on points and could overtake them in the league.
    Despite what some Leeds fans believe, Leeds are not safe yet.

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    • We’re safe

      Blackpool with their “fit and proper” owners are doomed.

      Wigan are as near as doomed, which I will enjoy as I can’t bloody stand Dave whelan and his “we should get rid of promotion and relegation” stance when wigan were in the prem

      We won’t finish below millwall & Bolton either. Hopefully the millwall numpties take that 3rd spot.

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  13. I had a hotel booked in newmillerdam rob ,we set off at two nil up so was well fed up when I heard the final score ,,, it’s not the losing to Watford ,who are a very good side, it’s being 2-0 up that’s hard to swallow rob

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  14. EddieGraysshoulderdrop

    Just wanted to say condolences on your loss Rob. Been 7 years since the loss of my dad and it is one of life’s big body blows that you learn to live with. 1977 when my dad succumbed to taking me to watch my beloved Leeds Utd at Derby County’s old BBG, an inauspicious 2-2 draw, however for me,a young 10 year old growing up in a town between Derby and Nottingham, it was the beginning of a love affair that endures to this day. Yesterday was gutting but to be fair Watford were great value for their win. Our two centre halves had a torrid afternoon with Deeney displaying the type of football that we have become accustomed too at ER. Think we missed Morrision as much for his ability to defend as much as what he offers up front. Still as you say we have a couple of wins lft in us to secure Championship status for next season, just hope we can hold on to our young talent through the summer!!! Weekend not a total loss for me…It was good to see Derby pegged back at Fulham yesterday, maybe their players have got wind that Steve McLaren is leaving for Newcastle regardless of promotion or not πŸ˜‰ any way God bless ya Rob keep up the good writing, don’t always agree with what you say but do enjoy your blog. MOT

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    • Many thanks, to everybody who’s been kind enough to send such thoughtful and supportive messages. I haven’t the words to express how much it’s meant through a fairly horrible few days. MOT

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    • That wasn’t Long Eaton was it? Lived there for 8 years myself. handy to get to Midlands grounds when we were playing there!

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      • Eddygraysshoulderdrop

        Yes it was LE, born and bred. A fantastic little market town as I was growing up, unfortunately gone the way of many a market town nowadays, a high street full of bookies, charity and “we buy gold” shops. Grew up with a mix of friends who followed Forest or Derby, but my affiliation lay with the team that wore all white….sock tags and Admiral kits have a lot to answer for. As I said My dad succumbed to my pleas to watch my beloved Leeds Utd in 77 at Derby’s old Baseball Ground, the rest is as they say is history. Oh and Rob if you do read this a Bobby D autobiography may have limited appeal for us Leeds fans but for Derby fans of a certain age he is a Legend. MOT

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  15. That photo is pretty funny Rob. A motley collection of fat old baldies, probable average age 50, trying desperately to re-live their “yoof” when they “was well-‘ard”. They should be old enough to know better, instead of looking ridiculous.
    Anyhow, there is a definite Karmic look to the current bottom three, and I hope it remains that way.

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  16. Mr Atkinson but what is the hate against southerners or MILLWALL supporters? bizarre if we look at society, as we soft southerners respect Leeds as the great fallen giant. I weep, but my old fruit, times change like the great British empire. As us southerners prop up your economy – a third world country ie paying your benefit bills and keeping anything the north of the m25. You’re no different from us, two working class clubs competing within a corporate premiership society.

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    • its this kind of “civilization ends at the m25” and “everywhere north of watford is the same generic grey rainswept blob of poverty” rhetoric that has northerners, scots, welsh, midlanders and every bugger else wishing you’d just fuck off and make your own city state.

      Rather live in Leeds anyday than your tacky bling bling playground for Russians, Arabs and dodgy financiers.

      Hell I’d rather live in bloody Manchester than London

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  17. I too had an uneasy feeling, even though we were 2-0 up, I kept thinking 1566, thats 15th position with 66 points, so I kind of expected it to go pear shaped.

    As you said, the win would not have made much difference anyway because of the huge gap to a playoff spot. I would like to see Redders give a few of the fringe players a go, especially the younger guys, like McDaid for instance, a promising striker, and a position that needs a consistent goal return, so give him a taste of what it’s like to play at home while there’s no great pressure, and try out a few more fringe players.

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  18. Exile in Holland

    Sorry to hear about your dad Rob but he’s probably up There discussing tactics for beating Ipswich with Don, Billy and Gary. Lets hope Redders listens.
    I’ve started saving to try to get to a game next season together with a few Ajax fans / friends of mine.
    Stay strong Rob in these difficult times

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  19. See thats the trouble you see, 100% of Leeds supporters live in the past.

    Your in the Championship now

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    • So are you – but not for much longer, with luck…

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    • Jimmy – bless him – is trying like a good’un to get his tedious memories published. He’s fixated on a play-off semi-final (he’s not so keen on remembering the final that year…) and he’s spamming away like fritter freak. And he accuses me of living in the past! Quaint, but daft πŸ™‚

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