Friday, 15 May 2009

Millwall party but a stupid few remain

An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a coin for a cigarette.

Last night at Elland Road, Millwall made the headlines for all the right reasons. It was a shame, then, that only a thousand Lions fans were in attendance as their side reached a Wembley final for the first time since the 1999 Auto Windscreens Shield. The story was the same at the New Den, with only 1,000 tickets issued to Leeds United fans. The reason - reputation and the idiotic acts of a tiny minority.

There is sensible policing and there are extreme measures - the travelling support from Yorkshire were barricaded by police horses at the final whistle of the first leg, while Millwall fans had to exchange vouchers for match tickets at a motorway service station on their way up to Leeds for the return fixture. This is not the way football should be - but should these teams meet again next season, the tactics will remain. Following Neil Harris' goal at the New Den, a handful of fans spilt onto the pitch in celebration - not an issue in itself - but one felt the need to flick a lit cigarette at Casper Ankergren, Leeds' Danish goalkeeper. Ankergren's opposite number, David Forde, was struck by a 20p piece thrown by a Leeds fan, shortly after saving Jermaine Beckford's penalty at Elland Road. The blow itself did not harm Forde, but the damage done to the reputation of both clubs will only serve to affirm the opinion of both the Metropolitan and West Yorkshire Police that this fixture has a potential for trouble. The fantastic support of 50,000 over the two matches will be forgotten by the time Leeds United v Millwall comes round again. Congratulations to the two idiots - you win.

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