Football, Meat Pies, Kangaroo Courts and Press Lies…..
Well I suppose it was inevitable that we would be in the Headline again as we have a Big Month and reporting football incidents is back in fashion again.

So thanks to the timely intervention of the Phantom Pie Flinger of The East Stand we are the new angle on the fourth day of the Cardiff/Leeds, Chelsea/Spurs story.

Having kicked over the idea of rebuttal unit in the style of New Labour, to be called Millwall Organisation Against Newspaper Errant Reporting (or Millwall M.O.A.N.E.R.s) heres a pilot effort.

Location and Date: The Den Thursday 10th January 2002.

Event(s): An half eaten pie and a couple of plastic bottles were chucked at a linesman, A Birmingham player was sent off and both Managers were banished to the stands.

The Reporting

Lets pick on the worst offender which is surprise, surprise The Daily Mail (Reporters Ian Cole, Ian Gibb and John Greechan)

On the back page The Mail splashes with a large picture (above) showing the usual police presence in the corner between West and North Stands. It was captioned Security Blanket: Police gather at pitchside as the tension rises at the New Den. You would be hard pressed to detect any tension from this picture!

Ian Cole's 'Mayhem at Millwall' sets the tone from its emotive headline. The main factual error is an attempt to con the reader by being economical with the truth. It says "Phil Barston ran onto the pitch to escape a shower of missiles - including plastic bottles and a meat pie - from Millwall Fans incensed by an offside decision."

The Mail lies by saying including when indeed it was a full list. A meat Pie and a couple of plastic bottles.

Ian Cole dig at Millwall continue by reminding us that "The Old Den was home to some of the worst hooliganism (surely he means best?) of the Seventies and the New Stadium retains much of its hostility." He then smears both managers by adding "Last night it (Hooliganism?) reached the dug outs with both managers banished by referee Phil Dowd.

The Match Report inside by Ian Gibb ( was headlined New Den Shame as linesman is pelted.

His report starts off with fair comment given the event, but repeats his colleague devise of listing the objects but giving the impression there were more. "..Phil Barston came under attack, with a meat pie and soda bottle among the objects rained down on him.."

Ian Gibb also tries to paint a picture of an aggressive atmosphere by including the following: "..did not help bring down the temperature in a tinderbox atmosphere….the underlying menace lingered all night…Tensions increased…Temperatures rose again".

Ian seems to call for a Kangaroo Court by declaring a  Guilty Verdict and punishment from the FA.

John Greechan's article, They're bringing back the game's dark age, was an article about possible knee jerk calls for a return to fences (Ignoring the fact that there are fences at Cardiff!) contained an old black and white photo of Millwall's Cup tie at Luton in 1985. It was captioned "…brought back memories of the last big pitch invasion when Luton hosted Millwall in 1985".

Last big pitch invasion? I don't think so. Maybe the only one you had a picture of to hand. Birmingham v Leeds in 1985 bring back any memories? Perhaps the Chelsea v Middlesbrough playoff 1988 will do the trick? Nope? Surely you recall the Man City Tottenham in 1993, it was live on TV after all!

Round up of a couple of others:

Express (Mark Fleming): Millwall yobs pile on shame

Mark claims that the Linesman was hit by a missiles. He did not state whether it was the meat pie or bottle of pop!

Here is a flavour of his article: ….reputation for crew cuts and bovver boots…in typical fashion they responded in the only way they know, with violence an spite….The predictable response (to a PA announcement according to mark) was a chorus of their theme song, "No one likes us we don't care"

The "Predictable" response is of course an out and out lie. The actual response was a cheer and round of applause!

The Sun (Andrew Dillion) …Andrew kicks off with "Millwall's notorious fans added a new chapter to soccer's shameful week when a linesman was pelted with missiles." Its five paragraphs before you find out it was a Meat pie!

Paul Weaver of the Guardian also tries to paint as black a picture as possible. He says "The police moved in quickly to evict the spectator who had thrown objects from the East stand, home of the family enclosure, after a linesman had angered home supporters with some of his decisions."  He therefore deliberately leaves the impression that the missiles were thrown from the Family Enclosure! He could have help clear up the confusion by saying the family enclosure is on the lower tier and the missiles (a meat pie!) came from the upper tier.

The reporter flavoured his report with "this match was like a nasty draught from Cold Blow Lane, when Millwall played at the other Den and their supporters were feared throughout the land." One wonders if the reporter ever went to the Old Den!

However pat on the back to the Standard for non sensationalised coverage.

The best quote of the whole saga came from Paul Walsh, who was co-commentator for ITV Sport that evening, who speculated that it might be a book explaining the off side laws thrown at the linesman!


  The Millwall History Files    The Millwall Story since the early 1980's         [Home]  [Contents]  [Links]   [Search]