• legal Alien by AlexFromNY

    ...or the story of a Millwall fan from New York

    Regular CC poster AlexFromNY joined a thread that had HOFers explaining how it was they came to be Millwall fans. Most of these postings were fairly obvious, citing family connections, roots in the area and so on. Alex, however, as an American sports and soccer (aaaarrrgh, I hate that word) fan chose Millwall. Why? I'll let him take over -- as what he has to say is obligatory reading for any Lions fan who might be losing the faith a little...

    First of all, I'm sure most of you can suss how an American started to follow English football to begin with. All you have to do is look at the state of the game here at home. Quite simply, American soccer (I'm going to use the dreaded S word to differentiate from our football, or gridiron as the case may be) is shite, has always been and always will be shite. First let me point out that you'll have a really hard time finding an American to say that about our game, because you'll have a really hard time finding an American who gives half a toss about it enough to have an opinion in the first place. Our national league continues to be a complete joke (whatever it's called this year, oh yeah, MLS) in spite of a few decent homegrown players here and there, in fact have you ever BEEN to a MetroStars match? Don't answer that. Ridiculous. Maybe 10,000 people in the stands, most of whom do not have English as a first language. Now that isn't a knock against foreigners at all, I'm just saying that what's the point of this compared to the way it is overseas? Where's the tradition, the excitement of it all, that electric feeling on matchday? Ha ha ha.

    The national side? Same deal. Can you imagine how excited I was in '94 when we beat the Colombians (and thanks for the own-goal, even though the poor sod paid for it with his life)? You think at last, the USA have arrived haven't we? Right. All the momentum from that year pissed away down the drain culminating not long ago in a defeat to mighty Iran. For me that was it, the last straw. Last one out of the grounds, turn off the lights.

    Around that time I started paying some attention to English football since Fox were replaying the highlights of the Premier League once a week. Before that I really thought sod all about it. In fact a friend of mine from Germany who owns a takeaway here has been trying to get me interested in his team Bayern Munich for years, but I've always been like, eh, whatever, OK. I decided upon the English league because I admired the tradition and excitement its supporters generate, and besides I can at least understand the language, LOL. German football never gets shown on my telly anyway.

    So once that was settled upon, why Millwall? Why not be a good arse-kisser and settle with Man U, Chelsea or Arsenal? Certainly even the Americans know about these squads, since they're so full of money, piss, vinegar and bollocks and all the TV stars and pop stars that attend their fixtures (as long as they win) besides, right? Can't get any more American than that, can you? Americans love winners!

    Unfortunately I'm not being all that sarcastic. If you follow American professional sports then you know that just about every sports franchise there is - football, baseball, basketball - is another Man U when it comes to revenues, what with the TV money, ticket prices, gear sales, etc. This is also why, in spite of it still being my favorite spectator sport, that I refuse to spend a single dime on the bastards. My own team, the New Orleans Saints, have put an absolute shite team on the field year in and year out - attendance the past year averaged "only" 50,000, and the bloody owner pisses and moans that he's going to have to raise ticket prices (again), he wants special tax breaks because "they can't compete financially", and threatens to move the team to Texas if he doesn't get it. Don't let the door smack your fat arse on the way out, mate.

    So why Millwall? Here's a team that's been to the brink and back more times than you can count, and here they are in better shape than they've been in a long, long time. For one thing, I greatly admire a team from a tough area, a hard area that has to fight and kick and scratch for everything it gets. Don't know of too many American football teams like that! Plus, this bit about everyone hates Millwall? That's just about a good enough reason in and of itself for me to be a supporter. Kick me while I'm down, and you better do it good, because things have a way of turning full circle and boy, is payback a bitch when it does.

    I'm not the greatest at writing novels or anything, but I've tried to express my feelings on this whole thing as best I could. Now you can go ahead and say I'm full of it or whatever, but I am a Lion. End of story.
    Comments 13 Comments
    1. TEA -
      Comments submitted by Paul Neve

      This isn't a story of my Millwall supporting career. Mine is fairly boring -- grew up in the area, had family who indoctrinated me, and the rest is history. This is the story of my father.

      It wasn't my old man who introduced me to Millwall, but my cousins. Back when I was growing up I only lived two doors away from my cousin Nicky and, after a brief flirtation with Spurs, he became a fairly mad Millwall fan. So it was he and my older cousin, Tony (older HOFers will remember Tony Bygrave from about two years ago -- same bloke) who introduced me to Millwall.
      My father, then, in something of a reversal of the norm, ended up a fanatical Lions fan mainly due to me. It wasn't quite indoctrination, as his first club was Millwall -- but he had to be brought back to the fold after flirtations with Charlton and West Ham as a youngster.
      Basically, back then my old man was a glory-grabber. He got fed up with how piss-poor Millwall were back in the depths of time and switched to Charlton, then abandoned them after the '66 World Cup when the Hamsters were THE London side. The only credit he has to his name is that NEVER has he professed to "support" Palarse, scant consolation though it is.
      I used the quotes back there because, by the time I arrived on the scene, his "support" of West Ham amounted to little more than a verbal endorsement of them. Indeed, by the time I was old enough to take an interest, he professed that he was sick and tired of modern football, wouldn't cross the road to attend a match and couldn't understand how I used to go week in, week out with my two cousins. "I used to go to Millwall," he'd say. "They were crap then and they're crap now. They never bloody change." The more cynical of us might admit he has a point!
      And so it remained until 94/95. This was THE season for modern Millwall. To my mind, this was probably the best side we'd EVER had (and I include the promotion side in that) apart from up front which, ultimately, was probably our undoing. That said, watching the likes of Kennedy, Thatcher, Roberts, Rae, and Rhino in what was probably his finest season -- that was a great year.
      By this time my enthusiasm for the game and the club was starting to get just a little infectious. Combined with the fact that Millwall were patently not quite as crap as he insisted, the old man's derogatory comments about Millwall became a little less caustic. He started to take note of their results, and suddenly, before he knew it, he started to *care* again.
      The turning point came after the ARSEnal game in the cup. What a game that was. We outclassed and outplayed the overpaid coke-sniffers; especially nice considering that the fixture computer had matched us in at least one cup for the last 536,308 years and they'd beat us one dubious way or another every time.
      We took Chelsea to the Den and probably should have beat them there. Witter had a header bounce off the bar and go over the line, but it wasn't given. In many ways, though, I'm glad we didn't win it at the Den, because at the replay the old man would see the light. Allelluia!
      For the Chelsea game we had a spare ticket, as one of my cousins couldn't make it. So, I asked the old man if he fancied it, and, after the obligatory "oh I wouldn't cross the road for your modern football" he surprised me by taking me up on the offer.
      So, off to the Bridge we went. They were just starting redevelopment, and most of the Lions fans were out in the temporary stand behind the goal. We had tickets up in the enormous South Stand, so high up you were in danger of getting vertigo before you took your seat.
      So, the game got underway, and the old man, naturally, was having none of the atmosphere, sitting there with his arms folded and his gob well shut, exuding an air of "I'm not REALLY interested in this". This lasted for about five minutes at which point he screamed the first utterance I can ever recall him producing at a football match in my company:
      "WHAT?" asks I, thinking that the old man had finally flipped.
      "I tried to scream 'offside', but it caught in my throat!"
      The silence broken, it wasn't long before his first COHERENT utterance at a football match in my company occurred:
      "Mitchell you useless old c**t, sort it out!"
      He didn't shut up for the rest of the game. When Chelsea scored, I will confess to thinking "ah well, it was nice while it lasted". When Savage equalised, I went berzerk -- and there was the old man, going berzerk with me. When, during the penalties, Rhino stepped up to take his, and I said "oh my God, I can't watch," and it went in, he was as chuffed for Rhino as I was. Then, when Keller saved the last one, and the whole place went mental, the old man was in there as a definite candidate as mentallest bloke present.
      The rest, as they say, is history. Now the old man comes to most of the games, home and away, these days only dropping out the real missions of away fixtures because he can't take the longer coach or train journeys. And, at the risk of getting over-sentimental, one consequence has been that me and the old man have forged a bond far stronger than the regular father-son relationship. When I was a precocious little brat of a teenager, with hardly anything in common, we didn't get on at all. As Lions fans together, we're best mates.
      And for my next trick, having turned a West Ham fan into a Millwall fan, I'm going to turn water into wine.
    1. TEA -
      Comments submitted by Hereford/Corfu Lion

      Born in Albany Road (well Kings College Hospital really!) in 1956. Grandad was a season ticket holder (in the stand) and had supported 'Wall since WW1. He lived long enough to see them in the top flight, albeit only on TV. I accompanied him to his last game at the Den (a poxy 0-0 with Reading on a manky Wednesday night in Div.3 - the famous night Peter Anderson was offered out on his way from the dugout) and then aged about 75 he managed to fall down the steps of the stand, which he blamed on the fact that he'd taken two hip-flasks instead of one. He had first taken my Dad who in turn took me (first match Bradford P.A.1960/61). Moved to Hereford when I was about 10 and subsequent matches were restricted to local away games in Brum, Bristol, Wales etc. and tied in with trips to visit family in Camberwell. I was lucky to be in Hereford during their famous Cup exploits and was behind the goal where Ronnie Radford scored his memorable 30yd screamer. As far as I'm aware I was the only 'Wall supporter (except my family) in a town of around 60,000. That was quite a responsibility!
    1. TEA -
      Comments submitted by Tim Cook

      OK, here's my story:

      When I was about 5, my Dad was headteacher at a school in Deptford called Grinling Gibbons. They often had visits from Millwall's community scheme, and for the match v.Hull City at The Den in 1987(the promotion year) they got free tickets. I went along with my Dad, and loads of kids from his school. I can't remember much from the day, except that I was amazed by the number of people, and I remember drawing a picture of the ground, which took me ages to draw, because of the number of different coloured circles I drew (representing the heads on the terrace). We won 1-0. After that, they got tickets to Bradford City at home, which I think we won 2-1, but I'm not sure. I do remember Ian Ormondroyd scoring for them!
      After that, my Dad and I decided to go to a game ourselves, and took along my Neighbour (who is the same age as me, and posts occasionally as Dazed and Confused, and who some of you will know as Ian, Dempsey, or Clunsey (after his resemblance to the Men Behaving Badly actor!)). I can't for the life of me remember what this game was, but from then on I was hooked! That season we went up, and although I did not realise the significance of it when we won promotion (for I was too young), after a summer without footie, I was mature enough to relise the significance of our first home game in the tpo flight, against Derby County, won with a magical tap in from Ted! Since then, I have become more and more involved, and as I got into my teens, started going without my Dad (his appitite for the Lions stayed at a level, although he still makes a few appearances). In our first season in Div 2 I went to my first away game, at Luton, and from then on, that was it, I was well and truely Millwall!
      The bottom line is, that these free schools tickets definatly work, as resulting from one free ticket, Millwall have gained from me over a grand in merchandise, match tickets, and this season, my first season ticket. Add to that an extra head at many away grounds (I'm getting near to my 20th away ground with Millwall, not brilliant, but not bad on the budget of an 18yr old!) Oh, and don't forget all those pies from the canteen thingy!
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      Comments submitted by Jan

      Well, my storys been documented before, but maybe not everyone will have seen it.
      Ive been a lifelong football supporter since age 5 initially with Southend Utd (home town) though Tottingham were my first div team mostly because of their exploits in the early sixties. Southend were always a div 3 team poorly attended and a deafening silence in the ground til the Millwall came. They had such ferocious support, we used to envy it a bit.

      I lost focus for a while during a couple of decades when I was travelling around the world a lot, or not but just mixing with non-football people. I still watched lots of football mostly on TV, and followed the game generally, but didnt support any particular team. On settling down, back in London, and with young babies, my partner and I looked around for a London team to support. The name of Millwall came up partly because they were close to home, and I wasnt too impressed. Memories of the Millwall coming to Southend and sacking the town came to mind, and also the hooligan type background. Had acquaintances who followed the team and they told us that the club were trying to clean up their image, and had a creche on matchdays, for under fives. We were impressed, having phoned about four other London clubs to find out that none could offer the same. (I do remember initially saying MILLWALL!!! when the name was mentioned, thinking of previous decades and the stereotype that I had in my brain about the club)
      So we went down to the old Den. We saw a few games and started to become involved with the passion. We got hooked, in fact. We had somewhere the kids were well looked after while we stood on the terraces, before eventually getting seats in the stands, and then season tickets. Was a couple of years before we went to away games, but then, standing with the Millwall in the away end seemed very natural. Wed found our home and these days, were home and away, when we can. It's in our blood, now and I've been the most fervent in recent years on the referee bias thing - 'cos it is a bias, no doubt about it.
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      Comments submitted by Andrew in Chicago

      Okay, here's my story then (condensed version). Feel free to skip ahead, those of you who've heard it somewhere before I'm an American of Lithuanian descent who grew up in a somewhat rough area of the south side of Chicago. My old man was a decent player in his youth. He was in displaced persons camps after WWII, but still managed to gain trials with Kaiserslautern in Germany and Reggiana and Torino in Italy. Suffice it to say, as his only son I was destined to kick a football only moments after taking my first steps. Fandom, as NY-Alex has pointed out, was less easily achieved. If you think MLS is a joke now, the old NASL was even more laughable, the Pele-led Cosmos excepted. My only real fix back then was watching English and German highlight shows on PBS. Anyone remember Toby Charles ("High, wide, and not too handsome! What a diabolical miss!!")? Then when I was about ten, a young couple moved in next door to my family's house. The wife was a Chicago native, and the husband was a Chelsea supporter from South London, but he had had trials with palace, charlton, and Millwall. When he found out I could play a bit, he gave me some of his old gear, including a boot bag and a pair of white "MFC" socks. I became irrationally attached to these things and declared myself a Millwall fan then and there, despite the fact that it would be a good many years before I would ever lay eyes on a Lions match. The bloke next door had two brothers who would come to the states during subsequent summers. They were both Millwall supporters, and in addition to confirming my attachment to 'Wall, they introduced me to the Sex Pistols and the Clash, and eventually and even more significantly, beer. Now, skip forward a few yearsI find myself at university, randomly assigned to share a room with yet another Englishman. Though not particularly a fan (he was more of a psychobilly fan from the West Country), he introduced me to the local ex-pat student community, which included a mohawked machete-wielding anarchist from Belfast and, you guessed it a rabid Millwall fan named Tony. I made some terrific friendships. From Tony I got a day-by day account of the promotion season (to the old 2nd Div.) and was well and truly hooked. I finally made it to the Den in the summer of '86. Didn't get to see a match then (though I finally did see a couple of matches in '93), but as I visited some friends and they took me to the pubs along the Old Kent Road I couldn't have hoped for a nicer reception. "We haven't seen a real Yank this side of the river since they de-mobbed in '45!" was the line I herard most and I will never forget it. The people and the area in and around Lewisham remind me a lot of the neighborhood I grew up in. A down to earth, talk no bullshit - take no bullshit kind of place. It is my second home. Now that I've got a real job I try to make it over to the UK at least once a year -- even made it to Wembley with four of my uninitiated American friends in tow. I can probably die happy now, though I'd like to see Teddy suit up for us again. Failing that, maybe Terry Hurlock could turn out for my Sunday league team???
      Andrew in Chicago
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      Comments submitted by paulw
      My association with Millwall is tenuous to say the least. I was born in Clapham which would sort of qualify me for a Millwall fan, though Chelsea and Fulham were probably closer. My family moved away to Surrey before I was old enough to appreciate the finer subtleties of football and as I grew up, even though I was mad keen on football I didnt follow any particular team; though my dad and step-mother both had season tickets at Chelsea. I even managed to go to the 1970 cup final.
      My step-fathers family all came from Vauxhall and they were Millwall fanatics, he used to tell me how his Saturdays as a kid used to be going to the Den for the game in the afternoon, getting the 38 trolley bus home for something to eat followed by another 38 trolley bus back to New Cross for an evening at New Cross dogs, now replaced by the housing estate. He was the first person to make me aware of Millwall and he took me to see several games. That is where it all began.
      In the mid eighties a man called Brian Mitchell joined the board at Millwall. Brian was a great friend of my fathers, our respective families virtually grew up together, and he used to take me occasionally, I remember when we knocked Aston Villa out of the cup 1-0, Fash scoring the only goal, though the most notable event was probably the appearance of a gangly young substitute to replace Fash, one E.Sheringham.
      In subsequent years, I used to go occasionally, mainly because I was playing a pretty good standard of football myself and I had a young family; I missed a lot of the glory years because I had no money and other commitments, though I continued to support Wall from afar.
      At the start of the first season in division 2 under Nicholl, I packed up playing football and decided it was time to educate my two boys, who were now growing up, in the finer things in life and we started going regularly to the Den. What a baptism of fire that was for them, watching the likes of Greg Berry, Damien Webber etc. I could put up with it, but there were several times when I had to ask myself as a responsible parent, whether my children deserved to be put through 90 minutes of hell every other week. To their great credit they stuck at it, putting up with all the abuse from their Manchester United/Chelsea mates and are now firm Lions fans. I always would remind them after another home defeat in the pissing rain that you cannot appreciate the highs in football without experiencing the lows. They probably didnt believe me!! My eldest was lucky enough to be pulled out of the hat for the mascot draw against Wigan a couple of years ago and I felt very proud.
      All the family, my wife included, are all Millwall fanatics. My step-father moved away to Dorset and whenever he come up, we always make sure it coincides with a home game and he always says confidentially I dont half miss this you know!!.
      I make no apology for supporting Millwall, not having lived all my life in Deptford, because the attraction of supporting Millwall is that its a way of life, and as such, is open to all. You have to be a certain type of person to support the Lions, and I feel proud to be part of it regardless of where we are in the league. I always recall the words of Queen Mary 1st, who on her death bed heard the news that Calais had been taken by the French and said to one of her advisers, When I die, Calais will be found written on my heart, the same is true of me and Millwall.
      Sorry for rambling on for so long!!!!
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      Comments submitted by marshall ney

      I was born and brought up in Ramsgate, then, as now, pretty much a run down coastal town in Kent. When I was a kid in the 60,s and 70,s all the local lads either supported the `big` London (Chelsea, Spurs, Arsenal or West Ham), or `big` Northern (Leeds, Man U, or Liverpool) or `local` teams (Millwall, Charlton or Palace). I supported Leeds partly because my mum and dad had bought me an all white football strip for school and partly because I was suffering from what you would now call `Man U. syndrone` or `glory hunting` (Leeds stuffed everybody in those days). When I started to grow up and mature a bit, I realised (unlike most Man U fans) that life wasn`t always about taking the easy option and picking an already winning team, so I started to think about lending my support to a more local team (literally, as I was starting to get of an age,12, where I could pay to go and watch teams).
      (Cut to angelic music and visions of puffy clouds) and it came to pass that the lord looked down on his lost and confused child and said `In my all seeing and infinite wisdom I`m buggered if I can understand why you want to condemn yourself to a miserable life supporting one of the crap teams in the leagues nether regions`, but he took pity and added `Truly Ramsgate Athletic are shite and nobody, including Lucifer and all his angels deserve to be lumbered with them, I will send you a sign my son to guide you in the way of the lord`. Well they say the lord moves in mysterious ways, and lo and behold that sunday on `the big match` a team came forth from the tunnel of his kingdom (The Den) wearing the pure white of gods army, to scatter assunder the forces of the devil, in other words it`s the early 70`s Millwall are wearing all white (thus matching my beloved white football kit) and they stuffed the opposition (Birmingham City), better still they came from south east London, and I new a lot of older local lads who supported them who would ba glad to take me along as well, and their fans were great.
      Since then I`ve never looked back, it`s been glory all the way, (well we did win the London 5 a sides once)! Now I`m an exile in the midlands with my own kids, they`ve been given no choice in the matter and were baptized almost at birth into the flock of the Millwall supporters club, well I wuoldn`t want them to go to hell would I?
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      Comments submitted by Ron Anderson

      I became a Lions supporter in the early 60s.My mates were
      all Charlton fans and I did frequent the valley for a while.
      then one day another friend and his dad were going to a midweek game at the Den and invited me.Millwall were in the
      third division but I thought what the hell!I was immediately
      hooked on the atmosphere,the noise,the fervour of the support for the team.I was 10 years old but knew this was
      the only team I could support.I can`t remember who they were
      playing but Len Snowden I think got 2 goals.My friends thought I was mad but I got a special satisfaction years
      later when Millwall beat Charlton 4-2 at the valley and
      Keith Weller scored with a rocket of a shot on the volley.
      I`d be interested to know if any Lions fans out there know
      the dates of these 2games.
      I`ve been on the west coast of Canada for a very long time
      so HOF is a very welcome communication/information tool.
      I can tell that we are all addicted to the Lions come rain
      or come shine.
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      Comments submitted by wembley

      Born in High Wycombe in '77 you can probably understand the disillusionment when I meet up with old friends and mention to them that I support Millwall.
      The normal replies are "who?", "your kidding, you were never interested in football". It is true football was never on my mind although I played and collected those football stickers (manini or something?). Starting from age eight I used to partake in the local Rugby for a couple of years and gave that up as well.
      Reaching the age of seventeen I left home to work at a theme park in surrey and then afterwards worked in Chelsea whilst living back in High Wycombe, travel became a nightmare so decided to move into London.
      Browsing through the ads I came across Fairview Homes and properties for sale within easy reach of where I was working. Without hesitation or looking at other properties I settled for a flat on what I know now as The Den.
      I received a brochure about the lands history and it mentioned Millwall FC, an obvious selling point looking back but not something that I really understood.
      Having left London a month after buying the flat and finding myself unable to move in, it wasnt until I started working on the Old Kent Rd in '97 that I moved back and lived in the flat, however this still wasnt the starting point......
      Skipping minor details I moved out again to Birmingham and spent numerous weekends at a mates house near the Blue through the year until December '98 when I stayed in a hotel.
      Beering it up at a club in Streatham on the Friday night with mates I was asked if I wanted to go to watch Millwall, I said "what", he then explained and as I had nothing to do until the Saturday nights drinking I agreed.
      So finally after two years of having a flat on The Old Den I actually went to the new one on December 12th '98 against Reading. Don't remember much about the match at all.
      Now I have never actually been the quietest of people but on this occasions friends were actually wondering what I was shouting about (I was shouting more than them you see), I simply turned round and said "I dunno".
      The atmosphere in the ground was stupendous, the chanting the slagging off, the passion that the supporters showed was all overwhelming and I wanted a part of this exhilaration every week. Obviously at first if they lost it didnt matter but within a couple of matches and taking in the surrounding atmos I too felt the agonies of losing. Win or lose there was always a good beer up!!
      So there it is never looked back but always looking forward to the next match with The Lions.
      Whether they are at home or away I follow like so many others have done for years, the reputation was lost on me for a while but soon realised when attending the Man City match in '98/'99 hohum.....
      Millwall is one of a family atmosphere and that is how fellow supporters treat you, unless of course you are the opposition of course.
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      Comments submitted by Paul Neve

      I received this account of a Lions fan in exile via fax recently. Edited slightly for clarity (no offence Kristijan, your English is a LOT better than my Croatian!)
      I read today on the HOF front page you're moaning that no-one's sending you faxes so I decided to send you one. My name is Kristijan (that would be Christian in English) and I live in Karlovac, a city about 35 miles south of Zagreb, Croatia. Don't bother finding it on a map, it's too small -- in fact don't bother looking for the entire country, because it's not much bigger. I guess I have the right to the title of "Lions fan living in the silliest place" in Eastern Europe. Hell, in all of Europe. I've been following Millwall for quite a few years now. I started when I was about 14-15 years old in the late 80s. I must admit that I was first drawn to Millwall because of the reputation that Millwall because of the reputation their supporters had in those days. I was a bit of a hooligan myself then, causing trouble in school and seizing every opportunity to have a fight. Of course with years and experience I learned that I was oh-so-wrong and became the biggest pacifist I know. The war had something to do with that, of course.
      Anyway, once I left the Dark Side and realised that violence in any form doesn't solve anything, and I became more interested in Millwall from a footballing point of view, and found that I had a lot in common with the club without having to resort to the hoolie reputation. Millwall came from a similar social background as I, based in a tough neighborhood, always struggling, always up against it. AlexFromNY had it spot on in his comments above, about everyone hating Millwall: "That's just about a good enough reason in and of itself for me to be a supporter. Kick me when I'm down, and you better do it good, because things have a way of turning full circle and boy, is payback a bitch when it does". Well, that's me all the way. And on top of that I'm a real football fanatic. I'm a fervent supporter of my local team Karlovac FC who are in Croatian Division 3 and averages attendences of about 200 (yes, 200!) in home games.
      When I got my current job in 1997 I was able to use the Internet (god bless Bill Gates and all those fabulous wonders and gadgets of modern technology, brought to us by Japanese conglomerates and south-east Asian cheap labour!). Through the Internet, and my weekly copy of MATCH magazine, I was able to follow the Lions each week. Those were the days of Steve Crawford, Tony Witter and many others who might have been donkeys to you. But in my eyes they were better than any Premiership player -- which should show just how how good my information actually was!
      And then, just about the time I was starting to form an opinion that Bobby Bowry was a great player, the revelation came. In December 97 I was having a slow day at work and decided to log on the Web and surf a bit. I don't have a PC at home -- certain difficulties, mainly a chronic lack of money! Anyway, back then I mainly logged on to sites that had anything to do with British football, like matchfacts.com, because Match magazine didn't arrive in Croatia until a fortnight after it was published back in England. Matchfacts had a link page for linking to official and unofficial sites of every Brisith club and after a few unsuccessful links to the old mfc.surfers.org.uk site, I came across an even old URL. It had a link to http://www.hof.org.uk. Trembling from excitement and anticipation I clicked on a link and ALLELLUIA! I saw the light!
      Since then HOF was and still is the center point of my Mondays. When I come in to work first thing I do is to go and have a look for Saturday's result, and download the goals from the Virtual Cinema (my personal favour being Shaw's absolute cracker versus Oxford away this season). I like every feature on HOF but especially like VC because it means I can actuall SEE Millwall in action. This is very important to me because I have never been to England let alone a Millwall match. The nearest I've come is a summer camp in the former Czechoslovakia in summer 87 when we were still communistic brothers in arms. Right now I'm saving some money for my first trip to England (a kind of pilgrimage) hopefully for Christmas 2000. And naturally I'd make a point of coming to at least one Millwall match. Hopefully it'll be a Boxing Day derby against Palarse in Division 1 in front of a packed New Den and we'll murder them 8-0. What a home debut that'd be for me!
      Hopefully by December I'll have enough cash to fulfil the dream and welcome the new Millennium in London (obviously I'm a member of the "Millennium starts on 1/1/2001 you morons!" club). If I'm there you'll have no trouble recognising me, I'll be the one screaming from the top of my lungs COME ON YOU LIONS! for the whole 90 minutes.
      So that's my story, my personal 15 minutes of fame. If you like it then write me and I'll send you the full story with all the boring details, including the anecdote about recording my own version of "Let 'Em Come" and making my own Millwall T-shirt dedicated to the AWS Final at Wembley. I am came into work on the monsoon-like rainy Monday morning after the game at 6am. I was so impatient to find out the result -- what a bitter blow that was! So keep up the good work, and let's hope Millwall win promotion this year. And one fine day when I get my own PC and get connected you'll hear regularly from me on Controversial Corner. In fact I'll be there so often you'll have to change the address of the site in order to get away from me, but it'll all be in vain, because nothing and no-one can get the Millwall out of me. NO ONE LIKES ME -- I DON'T CARE! COME ON YOU LIONS!
      Kristijan Knezevic
      Izidora Krsnjavog 8a
      47000 Karlovac
    1. TEA -
      Comments submitted by B Wildered

      My childhood was spent in Mottingham, an anonymous suburb of South East London - closest in distance (and linked by the 161 bus) to Charlton, during the late 60s and early 70s.
      My first footballing memories were of Man Utd winning the European Cup and after that of arsenal winning the double in '71.
      My earliest inclinations were to support a winning team and so I claimed up to the age of 11 to be a Man U fan (George Best, Bobby Charlton, Dennis Law etc etc).
      But ... but ... but ...
      One day at school my closest friend named Yarks (don't ask too long a story), asked if I fancied going to a 'real' match at Millwall (pronounced Mill-Wall - emphasis on the Mill).
      I said 'yeah' - I'd only ever seen games on the TV and rather imagined that action replays really happened and that you could hear Brian Moore commentating and stuff like that.
      I asked my Mum if I could go, she said ok and off we trotted to Elmstead Woods station to catch the train.
      Grove Park, Hither Green - mysterious places with progressively more and more run down Victorian houses.
      New Cross - our stop.
      Off we get and turn out into New Cross Road, through soon to be demolished streets, more and more blue and white scarves, excitement building as we get to Cold Blow Lane itself.
      Cold Blow Lane! What a name, never did a street more suit its name and character.
      Dark, dingy cobble stones, scrap yards, water dripping from the railway above - always on to my neck and down my collar.
      And then we turn the corner and a sight I'll never forget...
      "Programmes, programmes"
      Smell of hot dogs, a tiny souvenir shop selling crap with Millwall written on it, Chestnuts (chestnuts?), thousands of people.
      I didn't realise it at the time but this was Millwall v Portsmouth March 1972 and we were surging towards the old Division 1.
      Through the cranky turnstile for some stupid amount of money 5p or so (we'd not long gone decimal) and into the ground.
      Green! The green pitch, it overwhelmed me.
      Suddenly "Let them come, let them come, let them come ..."
      Millwall in all white (our only true colours in my book at least) and the Lions are on the pitch.
      The match is now hazy, but I remember the goal and the ROAR that went up! (Barry Bridges scored).
      1 - 0 it finished and I knew that I had discovered my club.
      Through thick, thin and thinner as they say, boy and man.
      That season finished in crushing disappointment and we've known a few more since.
      But also the highs have been higher than I ever imagined in '72 - Division 1, topping the league, looking like potential champions (in '87 - 88 for a while at least anyway), Wembley etc.
      Regrets? Just a few, but then again too few to mention...
      Who doesn't know the pleasure, when asked who you support, of saying ... 'Millwall ... and proud of it'.
    1. TEA -
      Comments submitted by jackyboy
      Born in Catterick army hospital in 1974 to my Royal Green Jacket father and "British Irish" mother, amybe I should really be a Leeds or Bradford supporter. However, the old man came out of the army six months after I was born and we all moved home to Lewisham Hill. My dad (or mum) never really had any interest in any form of sport at all, and nor did I until aged about six, we moved with my little sister now, to the other side of Lewisham just off Lee High Road. This is where I met Gary, our next door neighbours brother who was (and still is) an out-and-out Hammers nutter. He offered to take me off my mums hands one Saturday afternoon and take me to Upton Park. Don't remember much about the game (think it might have been Forest or someone like that), except that we had to leave before the end because he had me with him (?).
      Anyway, a couple of weeks later, talking about it with my mate who lived across the square, he suggested that I should go to Millwall with him and his old man because West Ham were "...a load of wankers." - something that I still honestly believe to this day.
      Thus the following Saturday found me and my mate in the back of his dads Hillman Avenger on the way to the Den.
      What else can I say but the bug bit! I found this completely different from the Hammers game, maybe because I had someone of my own age to talk to and explain things to me, but the atmosphere, th noise, the vibrancy of everything, the fact that I had a place like this almost on my doorstep, just blew me away!
      Anyway to cut a long story short, that was the start of a sporadic love/hate relationship with the Wall, during which time I made lots of friends and enemies, until I hit the teenage years, during which time I decided it more worthwhile spending my time and money on getting high and raving. I stilled followed from afar, and would never hear a bad word said about the Lions, and indeed still had a sense of pride in "supporting" Millwall, but lost the inclination to get off my arse and get down there.
      Sadly, to this cause I reckon I miseed some of the better years of recent times and am forever kicking myself when I hear people reminiscing about Teddy, and Fash and the like, because I wasn't there.
      Never mind. I "renewed my relationship", as I put it, about four years ago now, when I moved into a place in New Cross, and was fortunate enough to be at Wembley for the AWS last year. It was an experience that comes second only to the birth of my son (18months and second-gen Millwall already), and maybe the occasional good E.
      I live in Bromley, Kent now, and although I work nights and most weekends, I try to get to as many homes as I can. And guaranteed, as soon as my son is old enough, he will be coming with me. His names 'Arry, by the way - no coincidence there eh?! And who knows, one day he could be on this site, telling you how comes he is Milwall potty!!

      Comments submitted by Paul Neve
      I kid you not. This is a kosher (geddit? :-) email. Mayer's having trouble registering at the moment but as soon as I sort him out I daresay we'll see him on CC...
      From Rabbi Mayer Schiller:
      Why me and Millwall? Why does a New Yorker decide to throw his lot in with "the best team of all"? Well, there are a few parts to the puzzle:
      1) As a boy in the early 60s my father and grandfather took me to a summer competition called the International Soccer League which played in New York City's Polo Grounds and Randall's Island Stadium. It featured about 12 international squads, including, at assorted times, Rapid, Shamrock Rovers, Dukla, Kilmarnock, Bangu (Brazil) and so on. Via this league I came to love the sport -- unheard of for an American youngster at that time.
      2) Years later I followed the Cosmos of the NASL and kept track of the European game, primarily England.
      3) Politically I am a "leftist" of the Right -- anti- big money capitalism but loyal to the preservation of European identity. I say no more on this for fear of giving offense to some.
      4) I like underdogs and the unpopular.
      5) The sad events of your 1972 season's end seems romantically tragic.
      6) I admire courage and perseverance.
      7) I think The Lion Roars fanzine is quite good.
      So, there you have it.
      I am a high school teacher in a Jewish private school in Manhattan and have about half my students in a Millwall frenzy. They are closely following the current season's finish day-by-day on the internet and debate among themselves the various possibilities and threats that Gillingham and Burnley now offer. I have even promised them an in school Millwall promotion party if and when.
      BTW I'd be most interested in e-mail correspondence with Millwall supporters in the Mother country (as well as any in the USA. My address is rms16@ibm.net
      Thanks and good luck the rest of the way.
      Comments submitted by Tory Boy
      Is this thing still working? If it is, then all good. Its been interesting to see the response this has had, and the various ways in which people have become Lions, so heres my reason. I'm a 17 year old boy, who for the last 15 years of my life have lived in Sydenham, in south-east London. I know what you're thinking, "Local Ties". Not in the slightest. Infact, the first team I ever supported were Leeds United in their Div 1 championship year (91?). I was nine and impressionable. I kinda didn't really give a toss about Millwall, but I hung around with the Kevs and the Pikeys at my primary school, and so football instantly became attractive. Millwall though? I should, if I had been true to my family tradition, support Shrewsbury Town, it is the homeland of the Millinship family, and indeed I do go and see them occasionally. The reason I support Millwall is due to a girl I fancied on the quiet at Primary School. "So who do you support?" I asked. "Err, Millwall, cos their local int they" came the reply. This was amazing. I had always believed Millwall to be a northern team (I was 9! Although I still occasionally get asked "Where is Millwall?"). That gave me the pro Millwall leanings.
      Then came the killer. Fast forward to secondary school, and Wilsons Grammer, Wallington. What a bunch of wankers. They all supported Palace and were the kind of people who wouldn't wake up in the morning if nothing was in it for them.
      Anyhow, there it is.

      Comments submitted by Lurch
      I guess it was family that got me involved. Everyone on my mum and Dad's side were and are Millwall, and I got taken down there for the first time when I was about three. After that got taken down there on and off by my old man, untill Graham took over. That's when I started going with him reguarly. Of course I was hooked from the off. It wasn't the football, it was the atmosphere, the going into the pub with my Dad and 50 like minded people, the tension in the air that did for me. Then much like Tory, when I went to secondary school, (in Dulwich), I was the only Millwall. I became even more passionate. I hated those Palace mugs then, although now I don't give a fuck about them now. West Ham are the enemy for me. I love being Millwall. I love being different from glory chasing Chelsea, Man U and Arse fans in their "middle class, inoffensive, best league in the world bollocks Premiership". We all know that clubs like Millwall are the life blood of English football. I'd hate to be anything else.
      Comments submitted by holonia
      i have an interesting story of how i had become a millwall fan. i am from israel. my favorite team is called "hapoel holon", and it's not even a football team- it's a basketball team (even thuogh i like football more). any way, the fans of my team are known in israel because they are the most crazy fans in the country. the fans of other teams don't dare to come to our home ground, and the braves who do come sit quietly and hope to get out safe in the end of the game.
      i never liked any team in england. i hate both man. united and liverpool, the teams that were dominant when i was a child. i may have heard the name "millwall" several times, but didn't know much about them.
      my love story with millwall began something like six years ago. my team played in the cup final. we believed that we are going to win and to take our first title ever. howoever, two minutes to the end we saw that we are losing. our fans began to throw bottles to the court and tried to hit the referees. it was a big mess. after this game everybody hate us (but we don't care).
      a week after that there was a game between england and ireland. the englang fans started to throw chairs, and the game stopped. i read in the newspapers that the fans who did it were millwall's. i don't know if this is true, but from then i have a favorite team in england - millwall!
      so, it may come as a surprise for you but you have a fan from israel. i hope to visit london and i'm going to make a dream come true -see a millwall game. until then i read the great book of Colin Joohnson and enjoy it very much.
      good luck to the lions!
    1. TEA -
      Comments submitted by Ben Fudali
      I have only ever seen highlights of Millwall in the late eighties and for some reason they appealed to me. I would have only been about 10. Since then the only way I have followed them is by reading the league tables every Monday in the newspaper(mondays daily telegraph) for the past 12 years.
      Now I have moved to Sydney to get a job and have started following a team called Northern Spirit. We have an area we call Barmy Point and I am known to all the English fans that gather there as bushwacker. Whether this is a good thing or not I do not know but we always sing "no one likes us ,no one likes" so I proud that that is my little contribution to spreading the Millwall word. My girlfriend has also become a Millwall, I think mainly because of the interest it creates in fellow Spirit fans.

      Comments submitted by Lion523
      Hello, This is in response to Alex's (from N.Y.) letter. I have only recently started following the Lions, and I live in Oklahoma City. Three years ago I was asked to play in the local Sunday leagues. As a result, I found myself watching and reading more about the game, and in
      particular English football. Several of my teammates follow different teams from different divisions, among them Swansea, Cardiff, Wrexham, Liverpool, Leeds, and West Ham. As you can see, there are a few of the lads who like
      the Welsh sides. I was tipped about Millwall by our manager/coach and started to read up on the Lions. Since a couple of my friends were Cardiff and Swansea supporters, they not only gave me stick about not having a club
      that I really supported, they tried to sway me into the Welsh teams (One of our previous players Tony is Welsh). I wanted something of my own to call 'My Team'. I just started following the club's progress on the web. The next
      thing that I knew I was reading "No one likes us, we don't care." by Garry Robson. After that, I was hooked and have been following ever since.
      Now, given, that I have never been to The New Den, nor have I ever seen live coverage of a Millwall game, I followed every word on several different sports sites. The main things that have endeared me to the Lions are as
      follows. I like their style of play. It seems to me that the lower division sides play a more hard-nosed style of the game than the Premiership sides. Millwall in particular provides this in the form of tough tackling and hard play. Millwall also have a good offensive force in the likes of Paul Ifill and Tim Cahill. Also, I respect the history of Millwall. From their record first as a Third Division side to reach the Semi's in the FA Cup, to 97/98 when I started following the team when they were fighting off relegation. Millwall has a certain tenacity that I love, they may be the
      underdog, but I love them all the more for it. Above all, Millwall supporters seem to be the most avid followers of all the clubs that I have come across. I would have to agree with Alex in that Millwall are a tough team from a tough part of town and they show it proudly on the pitch week in and week out. When you are subjected to the retirees and nobody's that play in the MLS, you are either enthralled, bored, or driven to find something better. I guess that you could argue that since I am not from London, that I cannot be a Lion. I would just have to disagree, I am a Lion, and will continue to be as long as I can continue to find information on the club.

      Comments submitted by Ekim835532
      u dont become a millwall fan your just born one! Everyone in London and surrounding areas wants to support Millwall but most are to superficial to do so.
      We are the Newcastle United of the south except we double hard lions and there northern monkeys.
      I've been a Millwall fan all my life. I live in corringham in Essex. Where most muppets support wenger's benders or the bottom of the league hammers (ha ha).Millwalls reputaion of being the hardest fans in the world is the main reason why im still a fan because the fear it strikes into people when your asked who you support is hilarious. As my dear friend Ronnie Kray said "When people are affraid of you, you can do anything."
      My local fish shop used to give me and my dad free food whenever we wore our millwall shirts in the shop. But the health inspector shut them down, I wonder whose having the last laugh now.

      Comments submitted by rick4lions
      How did i become a Lion. Well first of i was born in the elephant & castle so what other team was there? second my old man always whent 2end div 3rd div the old 4th div he whent and as a kid i was draged to see the likes of worthington in the rain and frooge my balls off. as a teenager i took my girl there and now shes my wife of 30yrs so thats some thing ells i can blame the Lions for plus the heart attack when they dropped out of the old 1st div (who remembers when Sheri was a good player?)
      So what other team can make you cry What other team can make you weep your heart out
      What other team can make you so proud that when your asked "Who do you suport" you say with your head held high Millwall.
      Rick 4 lions

      Comments submitted by Arthur Axident
      Iam a Scot and a season ticket holder with Hearts.So not so long ago I found myself in London visiting relations.The relatives lived 5 min from Highbury and they were playing Villa.So I turned to my 4 year old son and said get your coat on were going to watch Millwall.I knew of the Scottish connection with the club and also Millwall were not a kick in the arse of what my own club were in the early 80's(violence,trophyless,atmosphere etc).Anyway too cut a long story short Millwall won 4-0 I bought the wee guy a Blue away top and myself a baseball cap(The old lion emblem sends a shiver up my spine).So me and the boy are now Millwall as well as being Gorgie boys and hope to pay homage at least 5 or 6 times a season.

      Comments submitted by The Drunken Londoner
      Why I'm a fan you could say for fairly typical reasons really,grew up in the area, Catford, Deptford, Greenwich. My Dad was a long term fan etc, etc, etc. Well that's not the whole story.

      For my sins I used to support Chelsea, don't even start on me please, I was 5 at the time and they had just won the FA cup (which to me at that age was equivilant to the World Cup). It wasn't until '94, probably p*#$ed off at the World Cup fiasco, I can't quite remember why, but I remember sitting with some mates when I used to be in the army and they were gobbing off about Liverpool this, West Shite that, and I thought "Sod It, I'm a Millwall fan" why?
      1. It's my local team
      2. It's my Dads team
      3. No-one can accuse me of being a band jumping waggoneer
      4. I like to be able to walk up on match day and buy a reasonably priced ticket at the ticket office
      5. The fans are more genuine, it's not like other teams I could mention with flavour of the month fans.
      6. Being a Millwall fan is making a statement
      7. Everybody knows us

      And thats me,I have an added problem in the fact I now live in Southampton and going to games can be a bit of a problem, but now I have a newborn son, I have an added incentive to go.
      The Drunken Londoner (hear me hic)

      Comments submitted by joe_blow
      Thats clever someone that know how to use cut and paste.

      I live in the Sydenham - Catford area and I used to support
      Ipswich (only cause someone gave me the top!) Then I thought
      really hard about it and thought well it's either palARSE or Millwall needless to say Millwall won hands down.

      I've now been supporting Millwall for about 13 yrs!