and anticipation as a new season begins is, this week,
tinged with cynicism and doubt.
The Prime Minister has
made it clear that her patience has run out with a game she
admits she knows little about, and there are plenty of
people who seem to toe discovering critical opinions they
didn't know they had, now that she has made her feelings
A national membership
theme planned for next year will be imposed and
protestations that it will be an irrelevancy to the problem
it seeks to curb are a waste of breath.
The decision has been made
that something must be done about soccer violence and the
authorities will have to make it work.
Images of outrageous
behaviour by drunken English supporters in West Germany this
summer following so close on the Heysel Stadium disaster are
far more powerful than logic. True or not, the game of
football is now overwhelmingly regarded as a nursery of
violence, a catalyst for crime, and no amount of sensible
words will make any difference.
It is a time for clubs,
supporters and the police to get their heads down and to
show that they are working positively towards a trouble free
season. Whinging will get them nowhere.
Millwall Football Club,
more than most, has a problem. Like many problems the
substance of it is less than the image but that makes it
even harder to solve. There is a public belief, especially
outside London, that the terraces of the compact ground in
Cold Blow Lane, SE14, are peopled on Saturday afternoons by
hard-core psychopaths on home leave from Rampton.
As a statement, it is as
true as saying that all coppers are corrupt and every single
black youth is a mugger, but as we know, stereotyping is
all-important to hardening a prejudice.
It is easy to seek instant
solutions by over-simplifying the issue and past behaviour
of some Millwall supporters makes the club a soft target.
But that is not to say there is no truth in such sweeping