Hot topic turns tepid in Cold Blow Lane Stand
This Gem from Rachel Cugnoni gives away the Agenda of the Media (The Yellow Jersey Press and Guardian in this case). Seeking to follow up the recent 'Outrage' of the Phantom Pie Flinger of Olde London Town, they sought to send an undercover reporter to sit in the general area from where it was chucked and dig up some dirt on Millwall. However thanks to our Ticket office and their own ineptitude they failed to buy a  ticket for Block 18/19 in the East Stand, which the reporter could have purchased from the Ticket office on the evening. This led to reporter sitting in the South Stand away from the home turf of the little Herberts and having to admit that our fans are indeed human and not knuckle dragging Ne

Hot topic turns tepid in Cold Blow Lane Stand

Rachel Cugnoni Monday January 21, 2002 The Guardian

Want to know what twisted emotions enter the head of the average football thug, what is going on in his mind just before he smashes the bloke next to him in the face? Try ringing the Millwall FC ticket line. "Thank you for holding, your call will be answered as shortly as possible . . . Thank you for holding, your call will be answered as shortly as possible . . ." I never actually got to speak to a human being before the phone got as pissed off as I was and automatically terminated the call.

And before you start sending emails suggesting I enrol for anger-management classes, let me tell you I did not start experiencing violent emotions until the third time of trying the ticket "hot" line. It then became a matter of urgency that I speak to an animate object. Something with a pulse needed to be punished for the recorded-message torture.

But when I finally did get through to someone who claimed to be a receptionist and explained the problems I had been experiencing, the response was "Oh yeah". Next time maybe she should try "No one likes us. We don't care".

According to the media, football violence seems to be coming back into vogue, so the idea was to get me down to the (new) Den to dig up some easy copy. The Australian Open is topical too, but nobody suggested that. So Tuesday night saw me steering my family hatchback reluctantly in the direction of South Bermondsey in search of a blind date with the descendants of the F Troop. It was a cheap trick really.

The date did not get off to a good start. I was late. The hinterlands of Millwall have been savaged by urban regeneration and the place now seems to be a Rubik's Cube comprised entirely of Barratt homes. After half an hour of turning my A-Z in an anti-clockwise direction I abandoned the vehicle, attached myself to some

straggling fans and followed them down to the Den, where I went to the nearest turnstile, handed over 15 and got a ticket for the Cold Blow Lane stand.

Trouble was, the boys I was supposed to be meeting up with were far away in Upper East. Phew. A bit of rough's one thing, but even from that distance I could see they were not my type.

They were not much interested in me, either. All their attentions were concentrated on the small, orderly contingent of Watford fans, neatly corralled over in the North Stand. But no amount of raised finger-jabbing and screamed abuse from the Millwall boys could provoke a response.

At last, though, the situation I found myself in had a serious upside. I got to sit down and watch a game of football with no frightening operatives with dangerously low IQs for company. Instead I was surrounded by friendly Lions (the kind that wear woolly hats and eat jellied eels), including a bloke carrying a mascot in the form of his three-year-old daughter.

She, however, was clearly not going to give in easily to the obvious disadvantages of being born within the catchment area of the Den. Just before Steve Claridge scored the only goal of the game she took refuge from the potentially infectious joy around her by falling asleep, no doubt hoping that, when she woke up, Daddy would tell her it was all just a dream.

I should not be so harsh. The football was not great but there were no "ugly" scenes. The meat pies were used as weapons but only against the human digestive system, and the next hour was nothing more than cold and vaguely boring - not the first time I have experienced those two things at a football match.

I felt no menace in the ground, in fact quite the opposite. I felt a slightly corny sense of community, something akin to how it must feel on the set of East Enders. The knuckle-dragging thugs are, of course, a problem, and Millwall do carry the tremendous burden of having Gary Bushell and Danny Baker as their celebrity fans. But despite this, they are thriving near the top of the First Division.

With the game all but over and not a scuffle in sight I gambled on sneaking out early in search of my car. The next day's Guardian brought bad news from some goody- goody who had stayed right to the end. "Ugly mle at Millwall," I read. So violence had broken out but, luckily for me, between the players on the pitch, not the fans.

Rachel Cugnoni is editorial director of Yellow Jersey Press

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