FAN TROUBLE TAKES PRIDE AWAY FROM THE LIONS
MILLWALL ........0 Violence mars Millwall’s Cup run
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