Tag Archives: Millwall

Same Old Story For Thug Club Millwall and Its Thug Fans   –   by Rob Atkinson

Leeds United fans above those of most other clubs can give you chapter and verse on the less than savoury nature of Millwall Football Club and some of its Neanderthal adherents. Whites supporters have had to sit there in that prefab, Meccano style stadium, watching as large parts of a crowd, swollen beyond its traditional paltry numbers by the presence of Leeds, have taken the opportunity to revel in murders in foreign parts many years ago. It’s something Millwall fans just won’t let go of, and that tells you all you need to know about the worst and least human fans in football. 

Tonight, Millwall fans were at it again, in the second leg of their playoff semi against Bradford. With minutes remaining, and Bradford pushing forward in dire need of two quick goals, proceedings were disrupted by two small-scale incursions into the field of play. Needless to say, this had a drastic effect upon Bradford’s ability to exert the necessary pressure. At one point, with the ball on the way out for a City throw, one of the local bright boys ran on to the pitch and booted it towards Bradford’s goal. So play had to start with a drop-ball instead of the swift throw Bradford needed.

As the ball was played back to the City keeper, the ref ran close by and clearly advised the Bradford man that the game was up, and to prepare for a quick getaway. The Millwall fans were preparing for a mass invasion, and the ref was chiefly preoccupied with the need to herd the players as near to the tunnel as possible before blowing the last whistle and unleashing an uncivilised horde from the touchlines.

Such has often been the case at Millwall, Old Den or New. It seemed clear in this instance that any late hopes Bradford had of making a last-gasp comeback, together with any hopes the ref had of playing the allotted span without interference, were dashed by the threat the crowd posed to order and safety. It’s not good enough, but it’s situation normal down Bermondsey way. Similar disorder has happened time and time again, while the craven suits at the Football League do nothing. This blog hopes and trusts that Bradford City will complain – not that it’s likely to do them any good. 

So, the upshot is that Millwall and its IQ-minus minority have intimidated their way to the brink of a return to the Championship. Unless Barnsley can intervene at Wembley – where Millwall’s unpleasant mob tends to fight amongst itself rather than facing equal numbers of opposition fans – it looks like we can expect to see them at Elland Road sometime next season. Not that many, though. Timid travellers, they tend to muster only a couple of dozen for the trip to LS11. 

Good luck to Barnsley at Wembley. On a football basis, they should blow Millwall away. We can but hope that they are sent back to their dingy borough, chastened and well-beaten. If not – well, it looks as if we’ll just have to put up with them for one more season.

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Police-Basher Holloway Needs to Recognise the Millwall Fan Problem – by Rob Atkinson

Holloway: we'd have done it, too, if it wasn't for those pesky cops

Holloway: we’d have done it, too, if it wasn’t for those pesky cops

If this week had been about which football manager could make the biggest fool of himself, then we might very well have ended up with a dead heat between Millwall boss Ian Holloway and the manager of fallen giants Man U, Louis van Gaal. It was the Theatre of Hollow Myths boss that got off to a flying start, reacting petulantly to the jibes of former Fergie poodle Sam Allardyce that the Pride of Devon had metamorphosed into the Pride of Wimbledon, playing a long ball game to thwart the cultured Hammers.

Even Giggs facepalms at the van Gaal outburst

Even Giggs facepalms at the van Gaal outburst

To say that van Gaal was displeased is somewhat to understate the matter. To say that his production of copious paperwork (which he waved wildly and employed to lecture the assembled press) caused some bemusement and raised eyebrows would be hopelessly inadequate. There were embarrassed mutterings and rolled eyes aplenty, among the press and even in certain of the Man U staff present. It was all excruciatingly, gratifyingly cringeworthy.

So, it’s looking very much as though that club has done it again, making a formerly quite sane person head rapidly for the margins of weirdness. They did it to Cantona, they did it (and how) to the already rabidly eccentric Ferguson; even poor David Moyes in his brief spell went slightly doolally. Surely it’s only a matter of time before van Gaal’s presser consists of a single word, the Dutch equivalent of “Wibble” from a wild-eyed Louis with underpants on his head and pencils up his nose. In a club as distantly separated from reality as Man U, it’s just something that happens, figuratively at least.

Millwall manager Ian Holloway, meanwhile, quite possibly has a head start over the previously rational van Gaal in the craziness stakes. Holloway, after all, has solid form for a bit of casual verbal lunacy, as witness his various pre- and post-match pronouncements – especially during a brief Premier League heyday at Blackpool. And let’s not forget, he was a full week behind the Man U manager in the race for any “Nutter of the Moment” Award – but once he got going, he seemed set fair to surge past the Dutchman into pole position, with an incredible outburst after his team’s defeat at Elland Road on Saturday. Eschewing the normal managerial options of blaming the ref, or the pitch, or Lady Luck, Ian has zoomed straight to the extreme end of the loony scale – and he’s pointed his quivering finger directly at that fine body of men and women, the West Yorkshire Police.

Yes, folks – Millwall slumped to defeat not because they were crap and not because Leeds did well enough to overcome them on the field of play. It was those awful West Yorks coppers, victimising the poor old ‘Wall, insisting that their choirboy-innocent fans should have to obtain match-day vouchers, to be exchanged for tickets at a pre-arranged motorway services meeting point. This naturally resulted – as those evil, plotting police had obviously foreseen – in a reduction in the Millwall away support to a paltry couple of hundred. The main big brave boys stopped at home – as they have done for the last few meetings at Elland Road. And, as ever, there’s at least one pisspoor online news outlet ready to join in with some ill-informed and way off beam Leeds bashing, even when – as in this case – it’s the Police being bashed, for once, instead of the club. “Give Me Sport“? Give me strength… 

Mr. Holloway is clearly not a man to let a few inconvenient truths get in the way of a frankly ridiculous conspiracy theory. The fact that other clubs with notorious fans among their away support have had similar measures imposed, and yet have still managed to take a large and vociferous following on the road, seems to have escaped Ian entirely. Or has he, in his sudden madness, simply chosen not to see it? Leeds at Cardiff is an obvious example. How nice it would be to blame the Welsh Constabulary for our regular defeats in the Principality. But sanity sadly forbids and facts get in the way too. Bubble match or no bubble match, Leeds are out in force at Cardiff, as they always are, everywhere. Millwall included.

Holloway insists that it’s “time to stop tarnishing Millwall supporters with the mistakes of the past” and suggested West Yorkshire police were “too lazy to deal with the situation in a less draconian way”. All well and good – but imagine the row and disastrous fallout if the WY Police had been as complacent as Holloway would seemingly wish. What if the cops had taken a more relaxed and casual attitude, only to find that a numerically stronger set of Millwall fans had travelled without let or hindrance? What if that carefree band had then decided that some mayhem was in order, some provocation of the locals with tasteful references to Turks and knives, perhaps – with ensuing battles and inevitable broken heads and bloodshed? The police would be a bit embarrassed, wouldn’t they? And Holloway himself would have to look elsewhere for his excuses.

I’m not always here to bury rather than praise a man, simply because he has the misfortune to manage Millwall. After Leeds’ opening day defeat at the New Den, I highlighted Holloway’s timely and sensible remarks about the conduct of his club’s animal fans on that occasion. He spoke frankly, and there was no suggestion of the delusion that such a famously degraded bunch of sick thugs had suddenly grown wings and acquired harps. And yet now, here he is – wanting to deflect attention away from defeat, and seemingly ready to deny the reality of Millwall’s gutter-trash fans in order to find any excuse. I’m honestly baffled and, I have to say, he’s gone down in my estimation – as I know he has in many other Leeds fans’ views. He’s possibly tried to come out with something novel and pungent, but has succeeded only in making himself appear ridiculous, which is a shame. Amused and gleeful Leeds fans have been tweeting the West Yorkshire Police, thanking them for their efforts in achieving victory for United. Holloway has basically contrived to hand the irony initiative to the massive on-line Leeds United presence, and who can blame them for proceeding to hang him out to dry in plain view of a global audience? 

It’s high time, in fact, that Holloway recognised and acknowledged exactly what he has on his hands – which is a bunch of supporters who will always let their club down with sick taunts, violent behaviour and a determination to live up to their injured-innocence anthem “No-one likes us, we don’t care“. They’re the worst in football, bar none outside of Istanbul. Millwall the club are complacent and complaisant in the face of this, always ready to minimise the impact of these cretins on the unfortunates they meet along the way, always ready to offer excuses and blame somebody – anybody – else. That’s the situation, and Holloway appears to have shifted from an early season position of recognising and being dismayed by it, to slavishly following his club’s abhorrent line – even to the extent of coming out with such bizarrely ridiculous rubbish as these deeply silly “Policegate” remarks.

A message to Mr. Holloway from Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything. You’re a decent man, Ian – and even a half-decent manager. But you work for a scum club with scum fans – as the contents of my email inbox demonstrate every time I have the temerity to write honestly about them. Time to wise up, acknowledge the truth and stop speaking rubbish. If you’re lucky, you’ll be sacked after relegation; perhaps then you can be a proper man at a proper football club again.

Millwall Seek Away Win Hat-Trick in Elland Road Six Pointer – by Rob Atkinson

3-0 .... in OUR cup final??

3-0 …. in OUR cup final??

Had it not been for Millwall’s last two performances away from home, when they have recorded successive 1-0 wins at Notts Forest and at Birmingham, Leeds United might by now be breathing easy – and thinking more of the Championship top half than that worryingly close relegation battle.

The truth of the matter is, it’s only Millwall of the bottom three clubs that are close enough really to worry the Whites, and that’s only because of those six points extorted out of their last two road trips. If they were to complete a hat-trick of away wins in LS11, it would be more than unacceptably embarrassing – it would put our whole season right back into the melting pot, just when we need to be stretching away from the unseemly brawl at the bottom.

Looking at the current league table, there are pesky little Millwall, neck and neck with Brighton as they compete for the honour of not being that third relegated club. As it stands, Blackpool look dead, while Wigan are on the floor and seem to be breathing their last. Those two are a full ten and eight points respectively behind our friends from Bermondsey.

If Millwall had done the decent thing, and had rolled over at Forest and Brum, they would now be making up a neat little relegation trio with the two Lancastrian dead men walking – all of them clustered cosily together on the gallows, all nicely two points apart from each other; and the nearest to us would be a distant eleven points away. Then again, if my auntie had balls she’d be my uncle, wouldn’t she – but Birmingham had been doing so well until lately, and Forest have just slapped Wigan 3-0. Surely, it was not unreasonable to expect Millwall to lose those two. But no, they ignorantly got two unlikely wins, so what should be a comfortable gulf between us is instead a dicey-looking 5 points – though we do have four other clubs between us, as insulation if you like.

All of this means one thing: Leeds must beat Millwall at Elland Road on Saturday. For once, it is nearly as much our cup final as it is for those envious docklands pariahs with their scummy, inbred fans. Not that the away support will be anything to worry about – a few dozen cold and shivering die-hards are expected to negotiate the security curtain in order to attend. That’s all plucky Millwall bring these days. Not that they’re scared, of course.

So the away support won’t add much to the atmosphere, and it’ll be down to the White army to back their heroes or have the game played in a sterile vacuum. Either way, no slip-ups can be tolerated. The last home performance, as well as the showing of that appalling ref, must be forgotten. We have to draw on the positives of the Reading game (and Huddersfield – yes, we’re on an away hat-trick too) and we have to win. Simple as that. Easier said than done, of course. Millwall will fight like the dockland rats they are.

But the prize for Leeds is enticing – an eight point cushion from that dreaded trapdoor. If we were to lose – horror of horrors – it could be down to as little as two points, and that’s when bums start to squeak. Besides which – I don’t want my email inbox clogged with triumphal if illiterate outpourings from my fans down Millwall way. It’d be irksome in the extreme.

One change at least will be enforced on Leeds as Tommaso Bianchi awaits an operation to repair a cruciate ligament injury. It’s never particularly edifying, trawling through the musings of some of the Leeds United Twatterati, but much of the output in the wake of Reading was horrifyingly unimpressive, as several morons so far forgot themselves as to actually celebrate a United player’s serious injury. That’s simply unacceptable; some people need to take a serious look at themselves.

In another area of the team, Redders is backing “unlucky” Steve Morison to end his goal drought and, really, the law of averages if nothing else would seem to be in favour of the coach having a point. The striker’s hard work and application, the way he has led the line, means that his value to the team can be measured other than in terms of goal output (thankfully). But he’s also struck the woodwork on a couple of occasions and has been denied by some decent goalkeeping too. So there has been a bit of bad luck dogging him – and there’d be no better time to bag a couple than against one of his old employers on Saturday.

Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything was feeling quite confident after a spot-on prediction for the Huddersfield game. That breezy smugness evaporated after we caught a cold against Brentford, when a 3-1 victory had been politely requested. We kept schtum for Reading, and got our reward. But this is a must win game, so I’m going to direct the jury to find for the home team, to the optimistic tune of 3-0. That would do very nicely indeed, and would also – I suspect – keep my email inbox troglodyte-free for the foreseeable future.

The nil part of the prediction is inspired by the massively reassuring presence of a certain Sol Bamba in the back line. That’s asking for trouble, I know. As for the three goals predicted for Leeds – well, you never know. Luke Murphy seems to have developed a knack for scoring and creating during his recent renaissance. We do have some potential going forward, again partly due to the increased sense of security at the back. So, a solid display against Millwall, plenty of endeavour and hard work, and maybe the odd flash of inspiration too.

And if Mr. Morison could come up with a brace or a hat-trick then, let’s face it, we’d all be extremely happy. Apart, perhaps, from those who’d been looking forward to another good old whinge on Twitter. And who gives a toss what they think?

Can Darko’s Leeds Cope with the “Cup Final” Mentality of Local Rivals Rotherham? – by Rob Atkinson

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Huddersfield’s low-key celebrations after edging out Leeds

In the wake of Leeds United’s recent failures on the road against inferior local opposition, it’s well past time to take stock of the problem behind this unwelcome phenomenon, which is set fair to drag us down and keep us away from the top level –  if it continues as it has in past campaigns. It’s to be hoped that, in the new Darko Milanic era, things might be different. There were some promising signs against the Wendies the other week, but away from home against pumped-up (yet lower-class) opposition, some fight is what’s sorely needed.

Firstly, let’s put to bed any foolish suggestion that the local opposition aren’t inferior. They are – by definition.  Leeds do not and never have in living memory played local derbies where they are the underdog in terms of club size and history.  We’ve been the biggest club in Yorkshire – by far the biggest, and the only one with a global profile – for the last fifty years plus. Whatever the relative squad merits – and for 90% of the time, Leeds have possessed demonstrably more accomplished players too – any meeting between Leeds and a smaller Yorkshire club has seen the Elland Road outfit cast as Goliath to some horrible, backstreet David. The real question is – does such superiority of status confer any advantage at all?  The answer to that would appear to be a resounding No, and a reminder that, horrible and provincial though David might have been, he still gave Goliath one in the eye.

The extent of the problem may be brought into focus simply by comparing two different sets of results over the past few years.  If you look at league games against other Yorkshire teams, together with a selection of upstarts around the country who have a similar chip on the shoulder, as compared with our reasonably regular Cup meetings with Premier League clubs over the past three or four years, the contrast is startling – and it says a lot about what it has taken to motivate our white-shirted heroes.

Taking league games first, and looking at the locals – the likes of Barnsley, the Sheffield clubs, Huddersfield and Hull, together with self-appointed rivals like Millwall – the results have been unacceptably bad.  Barnsley in particular have visited embarrassment upon us in match after match, often by a significant margin, whilst keeling over to most other clubs and usually only escaping relegation by the skin of their teeth, prior to their welcome demise last year.  Our relatively close West Yorkshire neighbours Huddersfield are nearly as bad for our health. The other season, these two clubs met on the last day, and over the course of ninety minutes, first one and then the other seemed doomed to the drop.  In the end, both escaped because of events elsewhere – and what did both sets of fans do to celebrate their shared reprieve?  Why, they joined together in a rousing chorus of “We all hate Leeds scum” of course.  This tells you all you need to know about what motivates such dire and blinkered clubs – but at least the motivation is there.

And the motivation is there for Leeds United, too – just not, seemingly, on those bread-and-butter league occasions when we need it.  What seems to turn your average Leeds United player on over the past few years, is the glamour of the Cup – either domestic cup will do, apparently.  Results and performances in these games have left bewildered fans scratching their heads and wondering how such high achievers can then go on to perform so miserably against the envious pariahs from down the road in Cleckhuddersfax.  Look at the results – going back to League One days.  A narrow home defeat to Liverpool in the League Cup when by common consent we should have won and Snoddy ripped them up from wide areas.  The famous win at Man U when we went to the Theatre of Hollow Myths and showed neither fear nor respect in dumping the Pride of Devon out of the FA Cup.  Draws at Spurs and Arsenal, beating Spurs, Gareth Bale and all, at Elland Road.  Beating other Premier League sides such as Everton and Southampton in games that had you wondering which was the higher status club.  Great occasions – but of course we haven’t the squad to go through and win a cup, so these achievements ultimately gain us little but pride. And, naturally, when we draw a Yorkshire “rival” away in a Cup, we contrive to lose embarrassingly as per Bratfud earlier this season. It’s just not good enough.

Often we will sing to daft smaller clubs’ fans about the Leeds fixtures being their Cup Finals, but this is becoming a joke very much against us.  The teams concerned seem to take the Cup Final thing literally, they get highly motivated, roll their metaphorical sleeves up, the veins in their temples start to throb and the battle cry is sounded.  Their fans, normally present in miserable numbers, are out in force – and they are demanding superhuman endeavour.  Faced with this, too many Leeds teams over the past few years have simply failed to find a comparable level of commitment and effort.  There’s no excuse for that – it has meant we’re almost starting off a goal down – even when we swiftly go a goal up.

The sheer number of local derbies will count against a team which allows itself to suffer this disadvantage, this moral weakness.  For Leeds, since we came back to the second tier, there has usually been one Sheffield or another, usually Barnsley or Huddersfield or Hull, Middlesbrough perhaps – even the just-over-the-border outfits like Oldham and Burnley feel the same ambition and desire to slay the Mighty Leeds.  It amounts to a sizeable chunk of a season’s fixtures – if you fail to perform in these, then you’re struggling.  The pressure is then on to get results against the better teams at the top end of the table, and we don’t fare too well there either.

It’s easy to say that it’s a matter of getting better players.  Largely that’s true.  But we’ve usually had better players than these annoying little Davids, and yet the slingshot has still flown accurately right into Goliath’s eye and knocked us over. Professional football is a game of attitude, motivation, mental readiness to match the opposition and earn the right to make your higher quality tell.  This, over a number of years, is what Leeds United have signally failed to do.

Can it change?  Well, so far this season we’ve played Sheffield Wednesday and Huddersfield at home  – plus Millwall, who qualify as a southern member of the chip on the shoulder brigade, away.  We’ve four points out of nine to show from that little lot, which is the difference between our current position and sixth – in the play-off zone.  Even three of those lost five points would see us just a point off the top six places.  And the thing is, ALL of those games were distinctly winnable, so it’s no pipe-dream to look at where we might have been.  The difference is down to attitude; our opponents have had it and – with the notable exception of the Huddersfield performance – we simply haven’t.

It’s a sobering message at this stage of the season, with only three such games played – and plenty more to come.  But it’s a message that should be heeded, or the effect on our season will become more profound as it goes on.  The potential is there for us to take advantage of games against inferior but highly-motivated opposition, to match the attitude of these teams and to reap our rewards.  The failure to do this will see us endure yet another season of under-achievement. We have to overcome the “Cup Final Mentality” of certain other clubs, mainly those in Yorkshire but elsewhere too.

The Rotherham game next Friday night is an ideal opportunity for this new, tougher mental attitude to kick in. Again, we have small local rivals who nurse a fierce and unrequited hatred of Leeds United – and they have the odd old boy in their ranks as well as a wily manager who has been busily bigging us up. Our heroes will include a number of quite new foreign signings, who may still be a little wide-eyed and naive on occasions like this. So the ingredients are all there for the relative big boys of Leeds to turn up, find the environment not to their liking – and roll over once again in abject surrender. Please, let it not be so.

Leeds United –  you just need to get psyched-up and go out to win some of these pesky and troublesome “Cup Finals”.  Darko can inculcate his principles and make a pretty pattern of play – but when blood and guts are needed, some fight and some grit – then it really is up to you lads who wear the shirt we’d all of us out here be willing to walk on hot coals for. 

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

Millwall Defender Dunne Can’t Wait for Cup Final Opener Against Leeds – by Rob Atkinson

Alan Dunne anticipates the visit of Mighty Leeds

Alan Dunne anticipates the visit of Mighty Leeds

Last season’s relegation strugglers Millwall have been granted the best possible reward for their achievement in avoiding the drop back into League One. Despite the undoubted attraction of a local derby against ex-Premier League Fulham in the season’s second week, it is the visit of Leeds United on the opening day of the campaign that has the Lions salivating. There’s nothing like a Cup Final to bring out the fans, and Millwall will confidently be expecting a bumper attendance for what is the biggest home fixture for any club in the Championship.

Millwall veteran Alan Dunne – sent off a record nine times in his Lions career – happily confirmed that the opening game simply could not have been any bigger for the tiny London outfit.  “To start with a game at The Den against Leeds is exciting,” the defender said. “It’s the perfect opening day game. The fans will be there in numbers so it promises to be a cracking atmosphere. As a player you look to all the really big games.”

It’s an attitude that Leeds United will need to be wary of, having slipped to defeat at the New Den last season, despite the fact that Millwall proved themselves over the course of the league programme to be one of the weaker teams in the division.  A tendency to slip up against inferior opposition was a hallmark of United’s failure to make any impact on the promotion race and, along with the lesser Yorkshire clubs, the Pride of Bermondsey have long been a thorn in Leeds’ sides – passionately encouraged by a small but violent following for whom a victory over the Yorkshire giants counts as Christmas, a few birthdays, a knees-up with Mother Brown and a first date with a close relative, all rolled into one.

Taking into account all the factors that normally affect this fixture, Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything will predict the following: a score draw at best for the travelling Whites to open the seasonal account; at least a dozen grinning apes proudly wearing the shirt of a club in Turkey which is Millwall’s broad equivalent in terms of sickness and violence; Millwall club officials standing by and doing nothing while this goes on, as the illiterate hacks in the local press turn a blind eye also; and lastly, Millwall’s highest gate of the season as early as this opening day, with a steady decline thereafter as the Cup Final recedes into memory.

Leeds for their part will hope for a win in what should be one of the easier away fixtures on the calendar, but as we have seen, other factors come into play.  A point would be a decent haul, especially as a routine victory can be expected in a St. Valentines Day massacre of an Elland Road return, where the brave Neanderthals who so faithfully follow their team around the country can be expected to muster no more than a dozen or two, against a chorus of the usual excuses about “bubble” fixtures.

So, a new season draws that bit closer – and, even while the World Cup is still being played for in Brazil, thoughts at home are already turning to the league battles ahead.  Just ask Alan Dunne, who simply can’t wait for the massive Leeds United game – and perhaps a chance to hit double figures in his red card tally? Time alone will tell.

Free-falling Leeds Hammer Nails in Millwall and Barnsley Coffins – by Rob Atkinson

Leeds lose yet again

Leeds lose yet again

Leeds’ shambolic collection of bottlers predictably meandered to yet another defeat at Elland Road as Charlton picked up a rare three points on the road.  No surprises there, merely a hint of something to raise the eyebrows as United kept it down to one, making a welcome change from the lavish generosity of their defence over the past few games.  It’s not even that upsetting when Leeds lose any more – it just adds to the cumulative weariness of a season long ruined by dishonest and self-seeking men off and on the field of play.  The magnificent Leeds supporters have carried off all the laurels due at Elland Road this campaign.  They have been there through thin and thinner; the highlights have been few, the disappointments and betrayals many – and yet still they turned up, those amazing members of the White Army, raucous and indomitable everywhere Leeds have played, startling fans on away grounds into an awed and respectful silence.

The Charlton game will not have added appreciably to those fans’ suffering. Their preoccupation is with off the field matters, as it has been for some time. It’s become more and more obvious that the one man out there honest enough to see how things are, and outspoken enough to lay it on the line as to what needs doing, is the man currently waiting to see if he will be allowed to set about saving a famous old club.  Massimo Cellino has ranted his way into the hearts and minds of United’s fans, fans who notoriously love a nutter with passion in his heart.  The decision as to his ownership of the Club will be made known in the next few days; on that decision, it is not fanciful to say, rests the whole future of a club that has been massively let down over the past few years – by just about anyone you care to name, aside from a select few players and staff.  And, of course, those phenomenal fans.

The real losers coming out of this latest defeat to Charlton are, in fact, two clubs whose fans normally wish Leeds United no good at all, but who will have been on their knees praying for an unlikely Whites win.  If there’s a crumb of comfort out there, I’m in the mood to seize on it – and the fact that Barnsley and Millwall would have been hoping for three points for Leeds does provide more than a hint of satisfaction.  A glance at the league table makes this quite clear.  We were looking at a group of death in the bottom four of the Championship, but it was noticeable that Charlton had a good few games in hand due to their Cup exploits.  The win at Leeds has seen them open up a three point gap over Barnsley, despite the Tykes’ recent good form, and a comfortable FIVE points over a hapless Millwall side.  And the Addicks still have a game in hand over Barnsley and two over Millwall.  So Leeds’ abject failure against Charlton has done a power of no-good to two clubs whose fans’ attitude towards United leaves them deserving no favours from our part of West Yorkshire.  I have to admit, that leaves me with a slightly malicious smile on my face.  The fact that the normally-reliable Ross McCormack missed a late, late penalty to ensure the full three-point hammer-blow to the Tykes and the Bermondsey Scum, just added a slightly piquant touch.  ‘Ave it, I thought.

As far as this blog is concerned, the priorities for the rest of this wretched season are few and simple.  First, we need to have Cellino approved; this immediately changes the whole picture at Elland Road and provides a foundation upon which to build.  The alternative, quite frankly, doesn’t bear thinking about.   Secondly – let’s not have this latest defeat go to waste.  Let Charlton Athletic use their three easy-gained points at our expense as a springboard to survival, and let’s see Barnsley and that odious, horrible club Millwall consigned to the lower leagues where they belong.  And thirdly, on a totally unrelated plane, let Bayern Munich finish the job against Man U next week, before losing in their turn in the next round.  These are relatively simple and realistic wishes; let them be granted. After this horrible, horrible season, I deserve no less – and I would hope a good proportion of my fellow Leeds fans would also draw some comfort in the fate of others, whilst celebrating a new era for ourselves, under our passionate, committed and insane Italian lunatic.

If that little lot comes true, then perhaps we can look forward to better times next season.  A Championship that would be all the more fragrant and lovable without the likes of Millwall and Barnsley.  A club under strong leadership, with money available to fund the big-club aspirations a big club should rightly have.  That will do for me, as a starting point.  If we can take the first step towards realising such a scenario in this fateful, historic week – then things will look, suddenly, not so bad.

Nervous Leeds Struggle to Beat No-Hopers Millwall – by Rob Atkinson

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. Dozy Old Lions

Leeds United 2, Millwall 1

Leeds achieved two unlikely outcomes in this scrappy match at Elland Road. Firstly, they actually contrived to win a game of football. Secondly, in doing so, they still managed to make a team as poor as Millwall look half-decent. The win is a fact, it’s in the record books. Millwall’s appearance of being any better than awful is surely deceptive.

The Londoners, cheered on by literally dozens of loyal followers, started fast and looked to live up to their manager’s claim that they’d be seeking victory in their Cup Final. Leeds, habitually nervous amid the great expectations of the home support, were harried into frantic defence and seemed set to concede yet another defeat to an undeniably inferior side.

Yet it was the Whites who took the lead after 18 minutes, Matt Smith looping a header over and beyond Lions keeper Dunne from a long throw. The goal settled United somewhat and they coped rather better with the pallid threat of the visitors for the remainder of the half – and with only four minutes left to the interval, they pounced on the toothless Lions to score again. This time it was McCormack’s finish from a tight angle which gave the half-time score a slightly flattering look at 2-0.

In the second half, Leeds were back to their bad old ways of making mediocre opposition look much better than they should. The fact that Millwall managed only one goal in a 45 minutes of forgettable football said more about the paucity of their finishing than it did about Leeds’ defending, adequate though it was. A better team – and there are many better teams than Millwall – could easily have taken United to the cleaners today. As it was, Millwall boasted the best moment of a desultory game with sublime volleyed finish after minutes.

Leeds have interrupted a desperately poor run of form and Millwall confirmed their position as likely candidates for relegation – and that about sums up this dismal spectacle. For Leeds, the three points were far more important than the performance, which is fortunate for them. For Millwall, it’s time to look out the League One road maps as they seem destined to wreak their mayhem at a more accustomed, lowly level next year. If they can muster a few more away fans, that is…

Leeds United: Butland, Byram (Wootton 90), Lees, Pearce, Pugh, Mowatt (Tonge 84), Austin, Murphy, Wickham (Hunt 86), McCormack, Smith. Subs (not used): Cairns, Warnock, Stewart, Poleon.

Millwall: Dunne, Robinson, Beevers, Lowry, Upson (Campbell 57), Garvan, Onyedinma (Jackson 59), McDonald, Woolford, Marquis (Maierhofer 57). Subs (not used): Bywater, Fredericks, Abdou, Powell.

Football League Treatment of Leeds Utd Fans is “Cruel and Unusual” – by Rob Atkinson

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Justice delayed is justice denied

“Cruel and unusual” is a highly descriptive phrase identifying treatment which is considered illegal due to the suffering, pain, or humiliation it inflicts on the person or persons subjected to it.  It has an American flavour these days, due to the fact that it forms the sharp end of the 8th Amendment to the US Constitution, which was designed to protect citizens from being too harshly treated by over-zealous law-enforcers in the Land of the Free.  Yet the words were first used as far back as 1689 in the English Bill of Rights, as the Old Country sought to limit the excesses of the various courts as they set about correcting malefactors.  A similar form of words also appears in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Whichever piece of history you might choose, these are powerful words, specifying and ruling out of bounds judicial and other behaviour which is considered fundamentally unacceptable, uncivilised and uncalled-for. And yet somehow you still have Guantanemo Bay in the US of A – and over here in Merrie Olde England, we have the Football League.

In a sporting context, it’s hard to conceive of a situation more closely approximating to “cruel and unusual” than the Football League’s casually callous attitude to the hapless and frustrated fans of Leeds United, as their scrutiny of Massimo Cellino goes on and on, ad nauseam.  To provide a little background, Leeds fans have been waiting for over a decade now for some obliging Knight to ride in on his white charger and bear us all off to a brighter and happier future.  It’s been years of purgatory, humiliation and having to grub around in competition with clubs not fit to lace the boots of former Champions.  And when, at long, long last, a potential saviour enters upon our tableau of suffering, with promises of rich bounty and an enhanced wage structure, what do the Gentlemen of the League do? They shilly-shally most grievously, that’s what.  They mank about, ineffectually. They spin the whole bloody thing out until the nerves of all Leeds fans, whether they want the Italian or not, are as red and raw as meat on a butcher’s block.

It’s almost as if, in fact, they take pleasure from the long, drawn-out, torturous nature of their interminable process.  Meanwhile, criminals, idiots and despots rule the roost at various other clubs, and nobody says them nay.  Cellino, no more than a likeable rogue and certainly not the heavy-duty villain you find without too much effort elsewhere in the Championship, must feel rather picked-upon, to say the very least.  It’s not fair; it’s not even remotely funny unless you’re some leering idiot that supports Sheffield Wendies or some other such bitter, Leeds-hating outfit. It’s the stuff of malice and persecution, the kind of thing that seems to happen only to Leeds fans – there’s no wonder some call us paranoid (And we’re not, not at all.  They’re just getting at us).

Even when the end-game seemed to be upon us, still they’ve umm-ed and ah-ed away in their ivory tower, in that aloof, patronising, annoying way common to all such pettifogging bureaucrats.  We’re meant to take from all this that they’re so busy and important, with weighty matters to consider, the kind of things that mere turnstile fodder could never hope to understand.  Don’t they realise that we see only a bunch of daft old gits in suits, blundering around, trying and failing to distinguish arse from elbow? So when an Italian court pronounced Cellino guilty on Tuesday of some silly technical tax misdemeanour, fining him and grabbing his yacht, could the League not then have acted decisively?  At least we would have known where we stand.  But this latest five-day-and-counting extension to the already lengthy wait for some sort of decision – it’s just added bitter insult to grievous injury.

GFH also have to bear a large portion of blame for such a farcical, overblown and ridiculous situation.  Their latest clumsy attempt to impose some sort of order took the form of an ultimatum to the League to get the matter sorted by close of play Thursday.  Naturally, the League – standing on their supposed dignity – airily disregarded this.  Such incredibly important gentlemen are evidently not to be told what to do and when to do it by a bunch of investment bankers.  So they continue to take their own sweet time, to scratch their well-upholstered backsides and ruminate away, absorbing tea and biscuits and achieving the square root of sod-all.

Meanwhile, the fans continue to be treated as mushrooms: kept in the dark and fed on crap.  And we suffer, not in silence – because there are some very angry people out here – but we suffer nevertheless; our club is important to us, and we’ve done nothing to deserve all this.  We just want answers, stability, some idea of where we are and where we’re going, if anywhere.  We want a future, one that might in some way make up for some of the dark hopelessness of the past twelve years.

All of these men in suits, at some point or another, have paid lip service to recognising that the situation – the stupidly long delay – is not ideal for the fans.  They have acknowledged that there are many thousands of us out here, deeply affected by the goings-on at Leeds United, deeply apprehensive about what the future holds, profoundly upset and humiliated by the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune which buffet our club, while so many others seem to have a relatively untroubled existence.  They have nodded their heads wisely, and expressed regret.  But still the silly charade goes on.

It does appear likely that, at some point in the next few days (touch wood), we will get an answer.  We were even told it might be by yesterday (Friday). But that was probably just to emphasise that it wouldn’t be happening on Thursday, as GFH had demanded.  In any event, Friday came and went, and nowt happened. The previous time-scale of ten days would take us up to the end of the weekend, meaning that another vital match has to be played in a cloud of uncertainty.  Nobody seems genuinely to care what all of this is doing to the legions of harmless and inoffensive people for whom Leeds United forms an extremely important part of their everyday lives.  It’s scandalously thoughtless, unforgivably casual. In context, it is definitively cruel and unusual, the kind of thing no body of supporters, with the exception of Man U, should ever have to put up with.  But we’re Leeds, so – apparently – we’re fair game for this sort of thing.

There are many out here now who don’t care half as much which way this decision goes, as they do about finally getting some decision, so that we can take stock and move on.  Limbo is supposed to have been abolished by the Vatican seven years ago, but it’s where we’ve all been for the most part of this year so far, and it’s not very bloody nice.  So please – after we’ve dealt with Millwall or they’ve dealt with us this Saturday – can we possibly call a halt to the most nonsensical period of uncertainty I can recall since the original TOMA? Because we really have had quite enough cruel and unusual treatment now, thanks.

Man Utd Fans Descend to Millwall Level as Liverpool Triumph – by Rob Atkinson

Liverpool fans show what football banter really is all about

Liverpool fans show what football banter really is all about

As a Leeds United fan, I’ve long experience of bitter rivalry between mutually-hostile supporters of various clubs. There has been violence, there has been offensive chanting – it was a big part of the football landscape for far too long. Happily, there has been some improvement over the past couple of decades, but in a couple of isolated pockets, things are as bad as ever. Worse, in fact – because in addition to the unpleasant taste left behind by the revolting chants still in common use whenever you go to such beauty spots as Bermondsey or Stretford, there is now, from the animals who follow Millwall and Man U, the rank stench of hypocrisy.

The game between the fallen champions and Liverpool at the weekend brought this phenomenon into sharp focus.  Man U fans have problems with Liverpool. There’s an inferiority complex that won’t go away, for a start.  Then there’s what they describe as the Liverpool supporters’ appetite for mawkishness over things like Hillsborough, conveniently forgetting their own habit of taking out an onion every February 6th and weeping crocodile tears over Munich – surely the most profitable air disaster any club has ever struck upon.  Still, the Man U faithful turn a blind eye to any apparent inconsistency and continue to demand tributes to “the flowers of Manchester” whilst dubbing Liverpool the “City of Pity”.

In the latest meeting between these two old rivals, Liverpool ran out easy winners at the Theatre of Hollow Myths, the assembled Man U fans having come from the traditional hotbeds of Devon, Cornwall and Milton Keynes only to witness their favourites being given a footballing lesson.  This was clearly too much for them, and they reacted with a repeated chorus along the lines of  ‘The Sun was right, murderers’, with reference to that gutter tabloid’s disgraceful coverage at the time of the Hillsborough disaster. Classy, eh?  96 people went to the football in Sheffield in 1989, and never came home – and here are modern day football fans mocking  the bereaved because they’re losing a football match. Naturally, the media will refuse to mention this – the nastier habits of the Man U congregation tend to be swept hastily under the carpet, for sound commercial reasons.

Next weekend, Leeds United meet Millwall, another club whose fans enjoy mocking opposition fans over light-hearted matters like violent death; but those same fans become all self-righteous when it is suggested to them that their behaviour is that of inbred morons.  Their justification for their regular outpourings of hate-filled bile tends to boil down to “well you lot do it, innit”. Now, the shameful fact is that Leeds United did used to have a problem with a minority of their fans who enjoyed baiting rival supporters in just this way. That kind of thing was all the rage back in the vicious eighties, a time when United’s support was heavily infiltrated by racists and other such dross.  Things are much better at Leeds now, due in no small measure to supporters’ initiatives and anti-racist, anti-thug fanzines.  The whole of football has done much to clean up its act – with the notable but ill-publicised exceptions of Man U and Millwall.

The actions of a minority of Man U fans, in singing that sick and sickening song during their humiliation by Liverpool, puts them on a par with the thugs and Neanderthals of Millwall.  Both sets of fans glory in the misery, death and bereavement of others.  Both sets emit high-pitched squeals should anyone attempt to upbraid them about it.   Both sets come predominately from London (saving Man U’s west country brethren).  Both sets are also scum – pure and simple.

We at Leeds may not have to put up with the cretinous behaviour of Millwall fans again.  Next weekend’s game is at Elland Road, and Millwall tend to bring a following of maybe a couple of dozen to us, for some reason which, they will tell you, is totally connected with policing restrictions, and nothing at all to do with being a bit too chicken to venture up Norf.  And by next season, they’ll most probably be in League One – gone and forgotten, late and unlamented.

But it doubtless won’t be too long before our paths cross with Man U again, and inevitably they will bring their Turkish favours to Elland Road, heedless of the fact that Munich taunts from the home fans are largely a thing of the past. And, as usual, the media will fail to take them to task for it. But they’ve proved all over again in the Liverpool game, for all the world to see and hear, that they still have all the taste and decorum of a sty of diseased pigs – so we should perhaps expect such behaviour, and pity those who are simply too subhuman to conduct themselves otherwise.

It’s a shame, now that, Millwall apart, the rest of football has cleaned up its act a bit.  But really – and this is the nub of the issue – what else can you expect of such irredeemable, low-life scum? Let’s just thank the footballing Gods that they’re getting a long-overdue taste of what it’s like in the real world – now that their team has turned to dross in the absence of the Demented One.  Enjoy it, scummers.  It couldn’t happen to more a deserving set of morons.