“Millwall fans get a bad rap, a lot of it very deserved, but there are times that you really want a lot of Millwall fans – and that was one of them” Piers Morgan 06.06.17 ITV
If you’d have asked Millwall fan Roy Larner whether he was a hero last Saturday night, just as he sat at the bar of the ‘Black and Blue’ restaurant and having ordered his first beer, you might have drawn a funny look.
Possibly even asked if you were taking the piss or something?
From the battlefields of history, to the modern pleasure palaces of the Borough, few heroes set out to be such at the start of their night.
Instead events plunge them into life or death decisions without any preparation. A night out turns to horror, forcing bravery (or its opposite) in the hyper-reality of frame-by-frame micro-seconds.
Three Islamic terrorists hacking their way into innocent bystanders in a maelstrom of horror is a situation that most of us would run from – but not Roy Larner.
No, he did ‘what he had to do’ when the murderous scum launched their attack.
As staff and customers scattered, the 47-year-old Roy shouted back, ‘F**k you, I’m Millwall’ and counter-attacked with whatever was to hand.
Pint glasses. Stools. His bare fists. Anything.
All against three deranged fanatics, who let’s not forget were potentially wearing explosive belts as they stabbed.
Now don’t ask me where the dividing line between courage and madness lies. I really don’t know how I would behave in that mayhem.
Maybe Roy can say, because he braved the machete blades, saving others’ lives and forcing the terrorists outside into the street. Out into the police hail of bullets that thankfully ended their lives, just eight blood soaked minutes after their assault began.
Raw courage. No other words will do. He deserves the George Cross in my emotion driven opinion.
‘Fuck you, I’m Millwall’ is rapidly going viral as a phrase, thanks to the power of the social media.
We’ve even got commentators as diverse as Piers Morgan, Tony Parsons and John Simpson praising Roy’s actions as an example of the people fighting back. The people not being terrorised. The people not giving in.
It’s akin to the Blitz spirit. Something that (still) lives on in the as yet un-gentrified streets of Bermondsey.
Call me a lemon, but I see something more at work here. Something class driven.
For how long has the name of Millwall and its fans been associated with being old-fashioned, stuck in the 1970s and out of step with the modern world?
A fanbase with an almost dinosaur image?
Forever is how long…
Along with the denigration of the working classes generally, Millwall and its fans are regularly held up as examples of ‘all that is wrong with society’ and out of step with the right-on sport that football has become.
Millwall fans are seen as lunatics who are always likely to invade a pitch. Sing a naughty song. Or take the piss using inappropriate language. Always being a bit … out of control … you know how the script goes.
All very working class isn’t it?
The modern world though is waking up to the fact that there is maybe virtue in the people it has ridiculed for so long.
Millwall supporters in particular, being so close to the alien world that London has become, have been seen as ‘dispensable’. Just witness our battles with Lewisham Council who would love to turn Bermondsey into a hipster paradise.
As Kipling might have put it, it’s Millwall this and Millwall that and throw him out the brute! But it still seems to be walk this way sir, when the guns begin to shoot.
The example of Roy Larner’s fierce and instinctive bravery in the face of a terrifying attack, offers a glimpse of the true strength of our country.
The much maligned working classes have once again shown that you don’t have to run, hide nor tell. Our island home really can be defended on the beaches, landing grounds and in the streets. As it was before, so it can be again.
It requires courage. Just like Roy showed us. And there is a price to be paid – his severe injuries are testament to that too.
But maybe, just maybe ‘fuck you, I’m Millwall’ can become a rallying cry. These terrorists depend on one thing – the ability to terrify. Take that away and they really are nothing…
It is in all of our interests that we are not cowed – just as Roy wasn’t.
So thank you Roy. Your words spoken in the heat of battle have carried far beyond what you will have expected mate.
We all owe you a pint…