Our famous fans leave the opposition quaking at The Den

by admin

Friday, January 21st, 2011

On a recent trip to Australia I found myself trying to explain to a Liverpool-supporting, Icelandic traveller which football team I followed.

“You won’t know them, they aren’t a Premier League side,” I said. It was a well-worn line I had become accustomed to using Down Under. “I support Millwall.”

“Yeah, I know Millwall,” he replied, much to my surprise. “You’re the guys with the crazy fans!”

Millwall are a club unique in the fact that they are better known for their fans than their achievements on the pitch.

People with no interest in football – the kind utterly unable to distinguish between Wayne Rooney and a capable striker – will still raise their eyebrows when I mention I support Millwall. It is an allegiance which is recognised across society – although usually for the wrong reasons.

The reputation of football hooliganism, which has been associated with Millwall almost since its foundation, casts a dark shadow over the club and its supporters.

As a result of this connection and incidents in the recent past the notoriety of the Millwall supporters is far greater than clubs of a similar size – the highest attendance for a home game this season was 16,170 for the derby with Crystal Palace.

In recent years Millwall, through the introduction of membership schemes and complete intolerance of any violent behaviour in the stands, has worked hard to stamp out that image.

So, at the start of 2011, what is the Millwall support like?

It is, in a word, unmatchable.

The second leg of the play-off semi final against Huddersfield Town at The Den last season was shown live on Sky. Pundit Dion Dublin, familiar with the Lions faithful from a short loan spell at the club, explained why the visitors lacked width in the first half: “The Huddersfield wingers are scared to go to the touchline because of the noise the Millwall fans are making.”

What better example of home advantage! Needless to say the Terriers crashed out 2-0.

Manager after manger tell the press, after visits to the Den, how it is a ‘difficult place to come’, ‘an intimidating place to play’ and there is no hiding from the fact that the Charlton players were visibly unnerved during their 4-0 humiliation last season.

The New Den is of course a far cry from the old. While the noise and atmosphere at the club’s new home can still hit the roof the mythical and legendary reputation of the old ground remains. Perhaps the hatred from other clubs towards Millwall has subdued since the days of ‘hand grenades’ being thrown onto the field and opposition goalkeepers being knocked out in the stands of the Old Den.

Now, under the management of Kenny Jackett, it feels as though the hatred towards Millwall from other teams – notably Leeds in recent seasons – is down to their frustration at their inability to overcome a talented Lions side.

Do opposing supporters still hate Millwall? They certainly hate coming here – just ask Palace and Charlton fans who have recently seen their nervy sides pulled apart at The Den!

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