FAN TROU­BLE TAKES PRIDE AWAY FROM THE LIONS

MILL­WALL ........0 Vi­o­lence mars Mill­wall’s Cup run

The Football League Paper - - FA CUP SEMI-FINAL - By Chris Dunlavy

THERE was to be no re­peat of 2004 for Mil­wall. No fairy­tale fi­nal for play­ers who bat­tled bravely but were badly out­classed.

Yet if the per­for­mance of the team was for­get­table, the dis­grace­ful be­hav­iour of a sec­tion of their fans will live long in the me­mory.

Mill­wall have worked in­cred­i­bly hard to erase a tawdry rep­u­ta­tion for vi­o­lence and hooli­gan­ism, to shed the stigma and shame of the eight­ies.

Yet in scenes evoca­tive of their very worst ex­cesses, Lions fans in­ex­pli­ca­bly turned on each other, rain­ing kicks and punches as the TV cam­eras looked on.

What ap­peared to be­gin as a scuf­fle quickly es­ca­lated into a ten-minute brawl in­volv­ing some 50 sup­port­ers. Po­lice and stew­ards watched help­lessly as chil­dren caught in the cross­fire were led or car­ried away in tears.

Against such a back­drop, Wi­gan’s 2-0 win – courtesy of goals from the Cal­lum McMana­man and the won­der­ful Shaun Maloney – seems ir­rel­e­vant.

“I didn’t see it, I wasn’t aware of any fight­ing or prob­lems,” said Mill­wall boss Kenny Jack­ett. “The first I heard was when ESPN (the broad­caster) asked me the ques­tion.

“I’m not say­ing that it didn’t hap­pen but I haven’t seen any im­ages of it. I’m sure the ev­i­dence is there but I would need to ex­am­ine the facts, see it my­self and talk to peo­ple be­fore I could give an opin­ion.

“The board of direc­tors have worked in­cred­i­bly hard to im­prove this club’s rep­u­ta­tion. We’ve had many, many big games which have been trou­ble free. Our work in the com­mu­nity has been con­sid­er­able. I as­sure you that we have done ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble.

“We want to be talk­ing about foot­ball, not crowd trou­ble. I’m very, very sorry if that (the vi­o­lence) is the case.”

Mill­wall look likely to hand out life bans for any­one in­volved but the dam­age is done. Just as be­fore, the ma­jor­ity of their fans will be tar­nished by the stu­pid­ity of a mi­nor­ity. And for Jack­ett, things could yet get worse.

“I’m very proud of my play­ers to have come so far,” he added. “But we need to put this to one side and get over it quickly.

“We’re fight­ing a bat­tle to stay in the Cham­pi­onship and that’s what we’ve been talk­ing about.

“We can’t af­ford a hang­over and it would take the gloss of a

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