No fairy-tales then.
After a month of hype and build-up that has outshone Millwall’s increasingly dangerous league peril, yesterday’s FA Cup semi-final was something of a let down if truth be told.
For the Lions to have ever stood any chance of winning, we needed to disrupt Wigan’s passing game and (fundamentally) get in their faces. Neither happened.
Indeed for most of the first-half we could barely get the football, let alone keep it. Waging a decent holding action being the limit of our possibilities. And David Forde in the Lions’ goal proving what a good keeper he has become in the last year or so.
The problem with decent holding actions is that in the end, they are doomed to failure if you can’t nick a goal – and we couldn’t.
Wigan’s first goal was well put away by Maloney on 28 minutes after he found acres of space – although that should probably read hectares given Wigan’s continental line-up. And in all honesty but for the quality of Forde, Millwall could easily have gone in two or three behind at half time.
The second half was thankfully more of a contest as we managed to press Wigan and get the ball forward in a way that we couldn’t in the first 45. Lady luck wasn’t smiling on us today though – in fact she was grimacing. And Calum McManaman 78th minute killer was the end of us.
Overall a fair result I felt. The better side won and we have little to complain about losing to a side with their ability. I wish them well in the final.
The headlines of course will not be about the football. They will be dominated by the seemingly endless second-half ruck that took place very close to me in Block 138. As odd as it might sound, I was so close to it all that I couldn’t tell you who did what – nor to whom. All I could see were the backs of peoples’ heads, the odd truncheon swing and a hail of crap coming down from above. Confusion reigned as they say.
What I can say that I saw though were so-called Millwall fans in the upper decks throwing stuff down into the fan-police-steward melee. Stuff as in a glass bottle, coins and general stadium crap. Two blokes up there in particular stood out as being – how shall we put it – ‘under the influence’…
Indeed I would not fancy their chances if they are seen at The Den on Tuesday night. Neck-slitting gestures and wanker signs are all very well when you are safely ensconced a tier above – with no prospect of anyone getting upstairs. But something tells me that their ugly faces (both burned into my memory incidentally) won’t be seen at Zampa Road for the relegation dog-fight ahead.
So that was that. Our big day out at Wembley Stadium ended in a damp squib on the field – mixed with some very real anger at what took place in the stands.
Personally I find the national stadium a curiously passionless place. Maybe it’s the size, maybe it’s the ‘ultimate modern stadium experience’ or maybe it’s just the complete arseholes that turn out for ‘big’ Millwall matches. Call me boring if you like, but I have always struggled with the concept that the way you enjoy a game is to get utterly smashed out of your head.
But then it’s not really about the football for these hangers-on is it? It’s about the reflected reputation of being ‘Millwall’ and the twisted moral compass that makes chucking glass into family zones OK – because we’re fucking mad ain’t we?
So what’s the answer you might ask? Genuinely, I haven’t got a clue. The club and the 99.99% of decent Millwall fans deserve better than what happened yesterday, but how that gets to happen is beyond me.
All I know is that I am not in a hurry to go back there. Indeed if a football genie – perhaps one let out of a magical bottle of Scrumpy Jack – could offer me three wishes, I might even pass up on the rest of the Millwall season. I have to confess to feeling rather maxed out on Millwall after yesterday’s shenanigans.
Big build-up, beaten by a decent side and now the inevitable media frenzy as the magic words ‘Millwall’ and ‘trouble’ can be mixed and matched in the headlines to suit. Yep, that’s what we do.