Well it's five days on now and I've had all I can take.
On Friday, my response to taunts such as "are you out on bail", was a comparatively light "don't be silly". On Saturday, a remark such as "no black eyes then", was met with a somewhat less polite, "go away". By Monday it was "piss off". Today it was "fuck off". God help anybody who crosses me tomorrow!
Let's get this straight, I did not take part in Thursday's riot, however like a lot of others I did stand around and watch it out of morbid fascination. I do not condone what happened, but I don't find myself as appalled by it as the general public seem to think I should be. In this violent age I am not shocked by such scenes, indeed I'm surprised that anybody is. Be honest, did you raise an eyebrow at the trouble in Belfast after the Scottish Cup Final? Thought not. After all it is difficult to be shocked at scenes that, unfortunately, we have become accustomed to.
I feel sorry for the rank and file policemen who had to face the howling mob. I feel sorry for the local residents who had their property damaged. I feel sorry for Millwall Football Club and most of all I fell sorry for the supporters of Millwall.
However I can't find in my heart any sympathy for the Police Horses. Perhaps I'm alone, I know it's horrible to be cruel to animals, but these horses are used as weapons. They are not pets or show horses that are used solely for Royal Funerals or other ceremonial duties. They are used because people are scared of being trampled or crushed to death by them.
If you don't believe me, ask the family of the Rotherham fans who was killed by a Police Horse after their Division Three Championship decider against Swansea at Millmoor. I have seen them in action, trampling a Fan in South Africa Road after a game v QPR. The Police use them because they know that the average football fan is scared stiff of them.
The startling thing about Thursday night wasn't the fact that it kicked off with the police. It was that the Police's bluff was called. Usually a charge of mounted or riot police disperses a crowd. It didn't on Thursday and the police did not know what to do. The mob had the weapons and the balls to deal with the horses. A few fireworks and flares and a barricade of burning cars and the police were boxed in. Any charge was met with a hail of missiles and fireworks. Chief Superintendent Mike Humphreys said, "The hooligans were there to cause as much injury as they could. It was absolutely disgraceful. This was not a normal incident. This was toe-to-toe fighting and they weren't running away. The fans were furious and ready to strike. It was sheer hell."
The only thing that would have worked that night would have been tear gas or water cannons.
So after Thursday night I went home knowing full well what would come next, but I didn't know the half of it.
The pen is mightier than the brick
Often I find myself more hurt by the hateful words printed and said about Millwall than being punched or spat on at a football match.
So what exactly did I expect? The usual Press headlines calling Millwall fans animals, calls for Millwall to be punished and usual rag bag of fans of other clubs posting messages on the internet calling us scum and wanting us all hung, drawn and quartered.
The radio during the night had the story as a riot involving 50 fans and five policemen injured. Myths starting arising which would sneak their way into the morning radio programmes, petrol bombs, dead horses, coach crashes, the end of the world as we know it. What is it they say about first impressions?
The Riot seemed to be too late for the papers or at least down played as we only made page 27 of The Sun and page 10 of the Mirror. However the radio was the main driver of the story on Friday. On Talk Sport Parry and Brazil talked sensibly saying the club could not be blamed for what happen outside the ground. However on Radio 5 Live was discussing if certain clubs were more trouble than they were worth.
Its hard to take seriously a guy who used to spin a wheel for his living, but Nicky Campbell was doing a good job of laying into Millwall lining up calls from Birmingham Fans who despite having a railway embankment between them and the trouble were able to comment on everything.
The radio reports now said that the number of police hurt was 47 and that between 600 and 900 rioters had taken part.
Around 12:00 O'clock the police held a press conference and boy could they show New Labour a thing or two about spin.
Deputy Commissioner Blair (he of the sour face) said he would be summonsing the Millwall Football Club to a meeting next week. A very deliberate and devastating word. Not asking Millwall to a meeting but summonsing. Who the bloody hell does he think he is, a high court judge? He certainly used injudicious language, "For an Hour and 10 Minutes the football fans of Millwall decided to attack the police." Nice to know that a guy, whose wages we pay, makes no distinction between hooligans and other fans.
The New Headline was that the Police were looking to sue Millwall FC and that 26 Police Horses were injured including a couple that had taken part in the Queen Mum's funeral.
It was clear that Millwall FC have no friends in the police despite employing ex-Lewisham Commander Ken Chapman. The Current Lewisham commander Chief Superintendent Mike Humphrey, said, "Millwall has always been a difficult club and last night it disgraced itself."
That quote in itself should be enough for the club to demand his resignation.
Now Thursday night's riot was moved up the running list of the news. Item 2 on the BBC 1 O'clock news. Still not good enough for the police. So, some sexy video footage taken from the Helicopter and special police video units was released. The TV cameras and photographers were shown the injured horses. Hey presto item 1 on the Six O'clock news. Only the death of Barbara Castle relegated the story from the lead item on the BBC 10 O'clock news.
It's a sod when you are caught up in someone else's agenda!
The M Word
The Standard splashed "Hooligans" on their front pages. This story used the pre-press conference figures, 3 horses injured. In later editions it was changed to 26!
The Standard was unable to resist using the M word to describe the hooligans. No not Morons but Millwall. They start by calling them Millwall Hooligans but further into the article they drop their pretence and it's Millwall fans this and Millwall fans that.
The only thing missing was the usual promise of severe punishment from the FA. Unlike Millichip's and Kelly's of the past, the current FA knows that clubs have no control over their fans through bitter experience over England fans behaviour at World Cups and European Championships.
The afternoon radio was just as bad. Richard Kaufman on Talk Sport started with a tirade labelling all Millwall fans as scum. Thank very much, I know people who speak very highly of you! Of course when you are down up pop some charitable people to give you a kick or two.
On air came a black fan of Arsenal who hasn't even been to the New Den to complain of racist abuse he suffered at the Old Den more than 10 years ago. This gave Kaufman another line of attack that was refuted by a Black Millwall supporter.
I suppose I must be a masochist. I went looking on the net and found loads and loads of opinions of the ‘Concerned of Charlton' and ‘Nigel from Croydon'.
Typical comments from the clueless:
"The only way to deal with Millwall is to punish the club itself. This in turn will force the club to face up to its problems with hooligans and do something constructive, rather than bleat on about how good the behaviour was inside the stadium."
"There is only one solution to this low-life of a club. Shut it down - then we'll all have some peace. But it is quite obvious that someone will have to be killed for anyone to take any action. Millwall is NOT a victim of society, but a club whose fans are obviously proud of their violent nature, and the fear and dread that they inflict on those that they visit."
"I think Millwall should be thrown out of the league rather than demoted. Why should the Second Division have to put up with them?"
Although you can always count on someone to say bah humbug!
"I think everyone from Cardiff and Millwall should be shot. These people are a disgrace to football, particularly Cardiff fans as they are also Welsh, uneducated and talk in a funny accent."
Why can't supporters of these clubs be more like those of, for example, Manchester United who so bravely fought running battles with German police in Cologne on Tuesday evening. - Colonel Rupert St John-Smythe (Mrs, retired), Surrey"
The most insulting line that is trotted out is by the amateur psychologists who somehow see the genuine fans as to blame. "Like an Alcoholic, you can't solve your problem unless you first admit you have a problem." I would love to see what would happen to one of these "shrinks" if they tried to talk a yob out of lobbing a brick on Thursday night!
One of my favourite sayings seems apt here. Opinions are like arseholes, everyone has one, but that's no reason for airing them in public!
The latest Cause Celeb seems to be to persuade us Millwall fans that Singing "No One Likes Us" is politically incorrect.
This is the same bollox as the campaign in Sweden to make men sit down on the loo rather than pee in a standing position.
Both ideas stem from jealousy. Swedish women are seeking to emasculate men rather than any sort of row over lifting or lowering the seat.
Those citing the No One Like Us Song simply don't like us. They hate how loud and proud we are when we sing this song. It shows how united the fans and club are.
The song contains no swear words or obscenities, it contain no racist lyrics or threats. It does not provoke opposition fans by calling them scum or singing about past players dying on runways.
We know what the song means. It's about the press and other fans hating us. It's not about us hating them. If they don't understand it, stuff em.
The Saturday papers had more coverage than the previous day. It was a story with momentum thanks to the police briefing. The Mirror desperate to lose it red top tabloid image and keen to be seen as a campaigning newspaper decided to splash us on the front page with a sensational headline "We Saved Their Lives"
The Times debunked Deputy Commissioner Ian Blair's threat to sue Millwall FC.
"Legal experts said that they could not see how the club could be held legally responsible for the actions of its fans. 'There needs to be a link between the club and the activities of these fans to enable a compensation claim to get off the ground,' Anuja Dhir, a barrister specialising in crime and public order offences, said."
No one was giving Theo's line that "The problem of mob violence is not solely a Millwall problem, it is not a football problem, it is a problem which plagues the whole of our society," much prominence. (In fairness, the Daily Mail ran quite a good piece on Saturday which DID highlight this, and concurred with Theo's opinion on mob violence -- Paul)
In the Sunday papers we got the counter point of view from such luminaries as Former Editor of the Guardian Peter Preston. It's a shame that such sense is confined to low circulation newspapers.
Today we hear that the Police want not only to ban visiting supporters coming to the Den, but also to ban any Millwall fans travelling. It seems that the police are happy to punish the innocent rather than to seek out the guilty.
The Police want our help, the help of decent people, to put names to faces in their videos. What is our reward for this help? A kick in the teeth.
Who would blame you if you told them to stuff it?