Burnley and Millwall: The Day Millwall Fans Came to my Local

My experience of the Burnley game is on the ANS website here. As for Millwall I was in a friend’s villa in Spain chucking my kids in to a swimming pool for most of the game. I got the result via the very dodgy wifi about 6.30. Not going to be the highlight of my season.

Missing Millwall means missing that weird ‘Millllll’ noise they make but it does also mean missing one of the edgier games of the season. To understand what I mean here’s a story from my youth.

When I was in my late teens and early twenties we used to drink before the game in a back street pub near Brighton Station called The Edinburgh. It was run by Vic and his wife Joy. Never has a man married a woman with a less appropriate name for him. She was ok but Vic was professionally melancholy. He used to host miserable hours. If a horse had walked in to The Edinburgh it would have been the horse asking Vic ‘why the long face?’

Before running The Edinburgh Vic had run a pub in South London on the Old Kent Road. A pub that was frequented by a large group of Millwall fans. We were due to play Millwall at the Goldstone on my 19th birthday. A couple of weeks before Vic had tipped us off that his old regulars from the Old Kent Road would be coming to The Edinburgh before the game. ‘Perhaps you want to drink somewhere else just before that game.’ So we did.

But 19 year olds are stupid. We were, of course, going out on the town that night and so we arranged to meet in The Edinburgh at about 7.30 ish. The Millwall lads had gone back there after the game and they were still there. Drunk. Very drunk. You could tell they were Millwall. Not because they were in colours – not a single one was. Not because they were making the ‘Milllllll’ noise, because they weren’t. No, it was mainly because the biggest, baldest one of them had got his mate to write ‘MILLWALL’ on his head in the black marker pen you used to put your name up for the pool table.

We were caught like rabbits in the headlights. Luckily Vic had spotted us and started pouring our regular drinks without being asked, greeting each of us by name. This seemed to make us alright with Mr Millwall On My Head. He came over for a chat and we talked reasonably about the game. During this chat it came over that it was a) my birthday and b) we hated Palace. ‘IT’S OK LADS, THEY HATE PALACE TOO!’ he boomed. Then he bought me a pint. Forty five minutes later one of them thought that one of us had looked at him funny and we had to make a sharp exit out of our own pub.

That was my one experience of being up close with Millwall fans. Twenty one years later they haven’t changed. Perhaps that’s why I was both glad and a little gutted that it was them I missed due to my holiday. Think back a couple of decades and you will remember, for example, that Chelsea too had a reputation. Now what image does Chelsea conjure up? John Terry changing out of his suit to receive a trophy? Japanese football tourists? Mourinho / Abramovitch / Ashley Cole / Torres sulking? £50 million transfer fees? Plastic Chelsea in Worthing pubs on Cup Final day? A hotel?

But Millwall are still Millwall. With Palace gone we will need to be competing at the business end of the table for anyone else except Leeds to make a big game atmosphere at The Amex this season.

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