Millwall 2002-03 Season Review
Millwall

Div 1 : 9th W 19 D 9 L 18 Pts 66 

Goals: For 59 Against 69

FA Cup : Round 4

League Cup : Round 1

 Chairman: Theo Paphitis

 Manager: Mark McGhee

 Assistant: Steve Gritt

 Captain: Stuart Nethercott

Player of the Year: Tony Warner

Transfers In: Kevin Grogan (Free Agent) Andy Roberts (Free Agent), Christophe Kinet (Free Agent), Denis Wise (Free Agent), Sergei Baltacha (Free Agent), Daniel Severino (Free Agent), Mark McCammon (from Brentford Free), Kevin Davies (Loan from Southampton), Glen Johnson (Loan from West Ham)

 Attendance: 195,776 (aggregate)

 Attendance: 8,512 (average)

 Top Scorers: Neil Harris (12),    

 Steve Claridge (12)

 

Transfers Out: Marc Bircham (Free QPR), Sean Dyche (Free Watford), Christophe Kinet (Released), Daniel Steele (Free  Colchester) Leon Constantine (Free Brentford), Ryan Green (Free Cardiff), David Tuttle (Retired), Kevin Grogan (Released), Leke Odunsi (Loan Colchester), Ben May (Loan Colchester)

Ever had one of those horrendous hangovers that puts a dampener on everything you do the next day?  Well Millwall had one of those in season 2002/03 and no potions or patent cures could shake it off despite threatening briefly to come to life in January and then finishing with an all too late flourish in April.

As if the fall out over the riots of May 2nd were not bad enough, Millwall were facing the harsh reality of life without  any Television money following the closure of ITV Digital.

For the second summer running Millwall spent no money in the transfer market, what movement there was, was all the other way with first team squad players, Sean Dyche (Watford), Christophe Kinet (Released), Marc Bircham (QPR) all released on free transfers along with Leon Constantine, Ryan Green and Danny Steele.

The releasing of Bircham and Kinet was understandable in the light of the club trimming the wage bill. However fans were left shaking their heads at the Club allowing Sean Dyche to go to Watford on a free transfer, whilst his natural replacement, Darren Ward had cost up to 500,000 from Watford last season, could not dislodge Dyche from the team.

(Back Row) Nethercott, Robinson, Dolan, Phillips, Ward, Sadlier, Rees, May, Tuttle, Ifill, Lawrence (Middle Row) Grogan, Elliot, Dunne, Booth, Gueret, Warner, Harpur, Sweeney, Livermore, Harris, Constantine (Front Row) Claridge, Odunsi, Ryan, Reid, Samba, Cahill, Bulll, Hearn, Lambu, Braniff

The Millwall first team squad at the start of the season comprised 17 experienced players and 8 youngsters: Goalkeepers: Tony Warner, Willy Gueret, Chad Harper, Full Backs: Matt Lawrence, Robbie Ryan, Ronnie Bull, Alan Dunne, Central Defenders: Stuart Nethercott (Captain), Darren Ward, David Tuttle, Joe Dolan, Mark Phillips, Paul Robinson, Midfielders: Tim Cahill, David Livermore, Paul Ifill, Steven Reid, Leke Odunsi, Charlie Hearn, Peter Sweeney, Forwards: Steve Claridge, Neil Harris, Richard Sadlier, Kevin Braniff and Ben May.

 The Aftermath of the 2nd of May

The actual events of the night are covered in the previous seasons review, however it will suffice to say that the tactical decision of the Police that night to uphold the law another day (no arrests on the night) and to contain the mob rather than enforce order on the streets coloured their actions over the following days and months.

In this modern 24 hour news world, its interesting to see how a story develops in its reporting, especially when there are no eyewitnesses from the press to the event itself. 

 

The television pictures of the Riot:  Helicopter shots and home videos

There were radio reports on the evening football phone ins of petrol bombs, coaches ambushed and dead horses, most of these coming from Birmingham Fans with X-ray eyes capable of a seeing through a railway embankment.

However Millwall did not make the usual front or back pages but did feature on the inside pages. A small report on Page 27 of The Sun had the sub headline of "Shops torched, motors smashed after defeat" 

Despite the inaccuracy of the headline, taken from an elderly eyewitness, the story was far from hyped. "The Cliftonville Pub, which is now used as a furniture shop, was set on fire. I saw a car pushed on its roof and set on fire." What the witness actually saw was one car on fire outside the Cliftonville. The article stated that 5 police officers were injured.

A Car alight outside the Cliftonville which contary to reports was not burnt down

 The only car set on fire outside the Cliftonville

A further quote from a Scotland Yard Spokesman "At about 10pm a crowd of 50 people began throwing missiles in Ilderton Road. Flares and fireworks also thrown and a car was set alight. One police officer was kicked by a Police Horse." 

The Mirror went more overboard in their Page 10 story "Riot of Millwall". "Hundreds of Millwall fans went on the rampage after losing a crucial play-off match. One eyewitness who asked not to be named said: 'This is the worst incident of hooliganism I've seen in 20 years of living in this area. They left the streets looking like Beirut. They are worse than animals."

The Mail did use the back page for a couple of paragraphs and a photo under the headline "Den of Hate" The only quote they had was of the non sensational type from a policemen, "It was pretty lively out there. I've never taken as much flak in any situation. There was one car burned out while another was smashed up while someone was sitting in it. We shouldn't have to do this, but I suppose that's football."

The Evening Standard Early edition however went to town with a front page splash of "Hooligans" The toll of injured police was now up to 45 and three horses were reported hurt. The number of rioters was put at 900 based upon a police quote. Commander Humphries said "I will be forming an investigation and over the next few months we will be making arrests of all those who have been filmed who have been involved in criminal activity. I have a message for everyone involved: I promise we are going to find you"

The Evening Standard seemed to be following the TV and Radio media in playing up the trouble. Nicky Campbell's Radio 5 Live phone in was 'Are certain clubs more trouble than they're worth.' The BBC were reporting that the number of police hurt was 47 and that between 600 and 900 rioters had taken part.

Around 12:00 O'clock the police held a press conference and boy could they show New Labour a thing or two about spin. 

Deputy Commissioner Blair wearing a sour face said he would be calling (reported on TV as summonsing)  Millwall Football Club to a meeting next week. "For an hour and 10 minutes the football fans of Millwall decided to attack the police." 

The story now had a new angle, The Police were looking to sue Millwall FC and that 26 Police Horses were injured including a couple that had taken part in the Queen Mum's funeral.

The Lewisham commander Chief Superintendent Mike Humphrey, said, "Millwall has always been a difficult club and last night it disgraced itself."

Now if Millwall FC was a shop selling knives, guns or other weapons to all and sundry they might have a case. But to seek to link a company that merely provides entertainment to customers in the form of football matches is silly. Millwall football club does not have any parental responsibility for it customers on their way to or from a football ground

Now Thursday night's riot was moved up the running list of the news. Item 2 on the BBC 1 O'clock news. Still not good enough for the police. So, some sexy video footage taken from the Helicopter and special police video units footage was released. The TV cameras and photographers were shown some of the injured horses. Hey presto item 1 on the BBC Six O'clock news. Only the death of Barbara Castle relegated the story from the lead item on the BBC 10 O'clock news.

It's a sod when you are caught up in someone else's agenda, the Police were pushing for Football Clubs to pay all the costs of matchday policing, not just the cost of police on duty inside the ground. The BBC even used its 6'oclock news to advertise its forthcoming 'Hooligans' documentary.

The M Word

The Standard was unable to resist using the M word to describe the hooligans. No not Morons but Millwall. They start by calling them Millwall Hooligans but further into the article they drop their pretence and it's Millwall fans this and Millwall fans that.

The only thing missing was the usual promise of severe punishment from the FA. Unlike the Millichip's and Kelly's of old, the current FA knows that clubs have no control over their 'fans' through bitter experience over England hooligans behaviour at World Cups and European Championships.

The afternoon radio was just as bad. Richard Kaufman on Talk Sport started with a tirade labeling all Millwall fans as scum.

The Saturday papers had more coverage than the previous day. It was a story with momentum thanks to the police briefing. There were plenty of pictures of Alamein, one of the Police horses hurt on the night. The Mirror keeping up its red top tabloid image decided to splash us on the front page with a sensational headline "We Saved Their Lives" claiming that they prevented the murders of Birmingham City Fans.

The Sun reporter Ian Hepburn excelled himself with "Millwall Thugs Maim 26 Horses" Perhaps the reporter should look up the difference between injured and Maimed in a dictionary.

The Times debunked Deputy Commissioner Ian Blair's threat to sue Millwall FC. "Legal experts said that they could not see how the club could be held legally responsible for the actions of its fans. 'There needs to be a link between the club and the activities of these fans to enable a compensation claim to get off the ground,' Anuja Dhir, a barrister specialising in crime and public order offences, said."

No one was giving Theo's line that "The problem of mob violence is not solely a Millwall problem, it is not a football problem, it is a problem which plagues the whole of our society," much prominence. 

In the Sunday papers we got the counter point of view from such luminaries as Former Editor of the Guardian Peter Preston. It's a shame that such sense is confined to lower circulation newspapers.

The Sunday papers started the theme of publishing the Police rouges gallery, however the quality of these mug shots in light of today's video technology was rather poor. However the count of injured police was now up to over 100 in most papers.  This was a blurring between those being treated for injuries and those not reporting for duty the next shift. The tradition of Policemen throwing a sickie was alive and well and inflating the official statistics. However given the stress of quelling a riot the night before its understandable that a few fancied a duvet day.

The News of the World revealed that Detective Chief Inspector Peter Newman would head up the investigation. They also revealed that they have just recovered further items thrown at the Police including a carpenter's chisel and a Wheelie Bin. (48 Hours to find and recover a Wheelie bin, obviously the Met's top men were on the case!)

The customary knife in the back quote came from Birmingham Chairman David Gold, "Those horrific TV images will stay in my mind forever. Never have any of us seen such appalling violence after a football match. (tip: try looking out of your board room window sometime David). If it had happened at my club I would have to resign. (You didn't resign though after the Villa game!) How can I have carried on when policemen were being taken to hospital, a police horse maimed (repeating a myth) and the area was turned into a war zone. But it is laughable to believe that life bans will solve the problem. The only thing these people have in common is a desire for their clubs to do well, so points deductions are the only solutions. The events at Millwall justified a nine point deduction at the start of next season." (further tip: stick to peddling porn David as your not the sharpest tool in the box)

By Monday news of the first arrests of rioters was reported. The Three, Ian Stone (24) a Stockbroker from Rotherhithe, John Manzarillo (24) a Warehouseman from Fulham and Paul Healy (19) and Engineer from Bromley were charged with violent disorder. Of the Seven arrested on the night, Nigel Haywood (22) from Dudley was charged with breaching a banning order, James Mullen (19) from Gravesend, John Parker (18) from Halstead were both charged with Public order offences. A 21 year unnamed man from Enfield was bailed to return in connection with a public order offence, while a 22 and a 24 year old man arrested outside the ground were cautioned for drunkenness. A 40 year man arrested was released without charge.

Tuesday's South London Press headline was "We Will See Off The Scum". Theo Paphitis admitted that he and Manager Mark McGhee had considered quitting, but decided "not  to be defeated by criminals. We will simply redouble our efforts to rid ourselves of these scum."

Tuesday was also the day that the Met Police had arranged to see Theo at New Scotland Yard. Naively, Theo expect the meeting to be a good natured chat about the situation and what they could jointly do to prevent any repeat.

The room was full of Senior Police officers and the Lewisham Police team in charge of matchday policing at the Den when the Millwall delegation  arrived, (Theo, Bermondsey MP Simon Hughes and Ken Chapman). Deputy Commissioner Ian Blair then breezed in and laid down the law in a rude, abrupt diatribe in industrial language. Theo was a horrible man....The club was a horrible club.....The Supporters were all thugs .... he presumed Millwall would be paying full compensation.....He presumed the Millwall accepted full responsibility....and.....I think you should know, I have no intention of renewing you safety certificate.....He then left.

There then followed over two hours of discussion during which the Millwall delegation explored several ideas such as banning all traveling supporters, introducing an ID scheme, donating a substantial sum towards police costs, improved street lighting, extended CCTV coverage, the walkway, Millwall Stewards on the streets etc. Each suggestion w
hilst welcomed was met with the rebuff,  No Safety Certificate for The Den.

News filtered out the next day in the Evening Standard that Millwall FC were thinking about introducing a range of 'Draconian' measures to prevent any further trouble. The measured included banning away supporters, preventing Millwall supporters traveling to away games, Improved street lighting and extended CCTV around the ground.  Theo was quoted "I went there to offer my sympathies to the officers and horses who were caught up in last week's disgusting violence. I do not want our good fans to suffer but we have to make sure their safety and the safety of the Police and Local community is protected. We will do whatever is needed to be done to prevent a repeat of the horrific situation we had last week. What happens outside the ground is not down to me but we will work with the relevant authorities and are prepared to help in whatever way we can."

By not divulging the threat to Millwall's safety certificate, Theo deliberately left Millwall supporters with the  impression that  these measures were the Polices ideas, but no one could see why the club would accept such a punishment. What need was there to ban Millwall supporters visiting Walsall or Grimsby  or Walsall or Grimsby fans visiting the Den? 

Blackmail

The Friday Headline from The South London Press was 'Lions' Future In Doubt'. Theo was more forthcoming with his quotes two days on from the meeting: "The threat is clear and very precise and made in an open forum. Unless we pay them a large amount of money there will be no football at The Den next season which will mean the end of the club."

Continuing the local infighting of South London's police commanders, a Posting by Lambeth's Commander Brian Paddick on an Anarchists website Urban75.com stirred up a hornets nest. In response to claims of police brutality on May 2nd  he said that a minority of policemen were Criminal Thugs. "I would not like to say what size of minority are criminal thugs masquerading as police officers." Writing under his pen name Brian the Commander, "What I do know is that a substantial majority of police officers will feel betrayed by this sort of behaviour. We all have a responsibility to identify and testify against these people including, primarily, police colleagues of the officers concerned."

Paphitis met with Committee members of the Millwall Supporters Club on Friday 10th of May to brief them on his meeting with the Met Police. He told them of Deputy Commissioner Ian Blair's threat and asked the MSC Committee for anymore suggestion of how to overcome this. A few suggestions were made and mulled over by all present. By this process Theo had brought the MSC inside in the Tent over the implementation of unpopular measures. To paraphrase an old saying, better inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in.

MSC chairman Bob Asquith said: "We are in the last chance saloon. It is a dire situation. We were very pleased with the chairman's determination to sort this out but he has been so battered by the damage to our club it is too early to find solutions yet. We may have seen the end of the chanting and baying at visiting fans because anyone dropping a tissue in future may find they have done the wrong thing. We are not going to have another chance to get our house in order, now the police are saying that night was the worst ever of football violence. Millwall has been a companion to me all my life. I have no intention of deserting the club now." 

In the middle of all this the long trailed BBC's Hooligans documentary series was aired. The first episode was entitled 'No One Likes Us' Whilst full of shocking footage of disturbances around the Den from several matches that season, the programme was centred around several members of various Midland firms who went to England games. It did however cap an awful ten days for the club. The programme also featured Sergeant Neil McPherson who is the Police Intelligence liaison for Millwall. It showed him at the end of his tether in dealing with the trouble, claiming that they had tried everything. The theme of the Police contribution was the cost of policing football and how little football pays toward it.

 

  Victims of the Cash Crisis at Millwall: Dyche, Bircham & Kinet

 

The South London Press revealed that the Police demands for 'compensation'  had scuppered new contracts for Sean Dyche, Marc Bircham and Christophe Kinet. Contract talks with all three would be suspended until the club had worked out its budget for the new season. McGhee's also admitted that his attempts to sign Dundee's Juan Sara were over and he would probably be unable to bring in Brentford's 22-goal striker Lloyd Owusu - who is out of contract in the summer.

McGhee also drew a line under the loan deal which brought Leeds United mid-fielder Stephen McPhail to Millwall in March. "Trying to bring him here is a non-starter," he said. "Regardless of his experience, Leeds will think of him as a multi-million pound player and we are not in a position to pay that." 

 

Pre-Season Deja Vu

For the second summer running Millwall's pre-season tour was thrown into chaos. The Previous summer had seen German Police canceling Millwall's tour games at the last minute when they were already in Germany, this summer it was discovered that Millwall, Birmingham and Cardiff would all be playing in and around Glasgow at the same time. Millwall were to play Morton on July 22, Ayr United on July 24 and St Mirren on July 27.

Millwall's security adviser Ken Chapman said "We believe as we were the first to organise our fixtures, the other clubs should take full cognisance of that. At the moment, we want to go ahead with the tour as planned." 

A spokesman for Strathclyde Police, which covers all the grounds affected, said: "We are aware of the fixture situation and the games will be policed appropriately."

Nevertheless, the friendlies were cancelled one by one, no doubt because of the increased policing costs and pressure. The old chestnut of hooligans planning violence on the internet was again raised.

During this period one bit of good news was Steven Reid's late call up for Irelands World Cup Squad when former Lion Mark Kennedy pulled out. 

Millwall also announced the Season Ticket prices for the new season, the announcement had been held back incase Millwall had won through the Playoffs. 

All season ticket prices were substantially up, some by as much as 50 and Matchday prices saw a Category system instigated. An Adult East or West upper stand ticket would cost 25 for a category 1 match (Ipswich Town, Derby County, Leicester City, Gillingham, Crystal Palace, Coventry City) and 22 for other games.  The Adult South stand ticket would cost 18 or 16 and a West Lower 22 or 20.

Paphitis said: "I am not happy at increasing them way above inflation. But we have tried to keep them sensible and realistic and they cost less than many other clubs in the division."

He has also warned of the consequences of the loss of TV money and riot on May 2 for the squad. "Let's not kid ourselves, this could cost us players. With the ITV Digital deal going down, we are not in a position to be as generous as we would like," he said.

"We have to be realistic enough to know when we can't afford to keep players because of what has happened. The atrocious occurrences of May 2 will play their own part in terms of extra expense incurred by the club."

Jumping on the friendly cancellation bandwagon was Mitcham & Morden MP Siobhain McDonagh who wanted Tooting & Mitcham to call off their friendly with Millwall to open their new Bishopsford Road ground on July 16. She said, "My constituents don't want anti social behaviour in their area and neither do I" 

Tooting's Chairman John Buffoni said that they had not had problems before when they played Millwall but no final decision on whether the game would go ahead would be made for a month. This was more to do whether the ground would be ready in time.

Ticket prices weren't the only thing being inflated as by the end of May Scotland Yard commissioner, Sir John Stevens, revealed to the Metropolitan Police Authority that the number of injured officers had risen to 127, with several still off sick.  

The article by Justin Davenport was trying to place the blame on Millwall for Police moves to make football clubs pay for policing outside the ground. (It had been the police agenda for sometime)

"At present clubs pay towards the cost of a police presence inside grounds but now senior officers are calling for clubs to meet more of the costs if trouble takes place outside."

Commissioner Sir John Stevens said: "It is our intention to call Millwall to account for the violence and to seek compensation."

Sir John, speaking to the Metropolitan Police Authority, said: "This was a very serious disturbance and a totally unacceptable situation. We will not tolerate that level of violence." He also issued a warning to the football thugs involved in the rioting, saying: "These people should know one thing: they cannot rest in peace. We will pursue them, arrest them and take them to court no matter how long it takes."

Deputy Commissioner Ian Blair said Millwall would be receiving a bill for "a pretty substantial sum".

The irony of an incident that was in the news just before May 2nd, that of the Yarl's Wood detention Centre was lost on the senior officers of the Met. The 43m detention centre which was owned and operated by Group 4 was burnt down during a riot of Asylum Seekers. Group 4's insurers cited the 1886 Riot Damages act to sue the Police for the damage to the centre.

At the beginning of June, Steven Reid became the second Millwall player to appear for Ireland at the World Cup Finals, coming on in the 77th minute against Cameroon in a 1-1 draw.

Millwall also revealed that they had offered a contract to Lloyd Owusu, the out of contract Brentford striker who was available on a Bosman free transfer. Millwall also lined up Steaua Bucharest at the Den as replacement opposition to fill the gap in the pre-season friendly fixture left after the cancellation of the Scottish tour.

Millwall held a press conference on Tuesday 11th June where they announced that six clubs (Burnley, Leicester, Nottm Forest, Portsmouth, Stoke & Wolves) would have their fans banned from the Den and Millwall Fans would not allow to their grounds and that ID cards would be required for home fans to attend all Millwall games.

Four other games (Coventry, Derby County, Reading and Crystal Palace) would have kick off times so that the game finished at least one hour before darkness.

 

Eight Men Out (of their minds ?): DCI Peter Newman, Ken Chapman, Ch Supt Mike Humphrey, Theo Paphitis, Simon Hughes MP, Neil Harris, Bob Asquith, Sgt Neil McPherson.

Theo Paphitis said "These measures are unprecedented. We were left with no option but to take these measures. The club's future had been put in doubt by the actions of criminals who attach themselves to our club. A smart card (Millwall had been talking to Teamcard prior to May 2nd) will be issued to all members. Unless we know you, you will not be allowed in."

This meant a tightening up of the proof of identity required to get a membership or season ticket. Applicants now had to produce either a passport, a birth certificate or a driving licence with their current address, plus a recent utility bill or bank statement. The measure was introduced after it emerged some of the suspects involved in rioting had given false addresses on their memberships and season tickets

Theo recognised that the measures may deter the casual fan as well as the hooligans. "It will be an inconvenience for the club, the players, the staff and the fans," Paphitis added. "We apologise to them for that. But it is the hooligans who have brought this upon us. But we need to make sure we can keep our players, meet their aspirations, and that means there is no room for violence at this club."

Millwall's head of security Ken Chapman said: "We are sorry to have to do it but supporters, we hope, will appreciate we are not doing this out of bloody mindedness. We have to do what is necessary to ensure fans can enjoy the chance to watch football next season. The scrapping of the Scottish tour has shown that at the moment people do not want us. So we have to be seen to be doing something about it - and probably more than others will have to."

MSC Chairman Bob Asquith said: "Why should anyone who is law-abiding worry about it? The only people who have anything to fear are those who glorify in violence and make the decent fans suffer. It is exactly the same thing as railway season ticket holders have to do every week. And many of us have to use a swipe card to get into their workplaces these days."

However Millwall supporter Dave Bannon was unhappy and gave a dire prediction that was to prove spot on. 

"I am worried home gates will be halved if people buying tickets face these kinds of restrictions. Asking for such personal details is an imposition. I don't happen to have a passport and there must be others in my position. The police are dictating too much what Millwall have to do. I am from a group of 14 fans who go together regularly and none of us can believe the restrictions."

Chief Supt Humphrey said: "We want to support these very sensible measures. Up to 20 of the people we have arrested after May 2 have been charged with riot - and there are a lot more to come."

"Out of that terrible night has come the opportunity for the club to rid itself of the hooligan element. I say to any hooligans who want to try to come to matches next season - We will be waiting for you."

But he admitted the events of May 2 had not been predicted by his intelligence officers: "There was no specific intelligence. We used more officers than at any games in my six years here - 300. But we never foresaw the scale of the problem - the viciousness and the venom behind it. But very rarely have we ever got it wrong."

Detective Chief Inspector Peter Newman, heading Operation Zampa, added: "We have arrested people from all over South East England. Many were ticketless fans who had stayed in the area of the ground during the match. But some are ticket holders - and they all consider themselves Millwall fans, rather than casual supporters."

He said he would research with other London clubs on whether some of the thugs were known to their police intelligence officers.

Lewisham borough commander Chief Supt Mike Humphrey agreed most of the people arrested after their pictures appeared in the Press after violence on May 2 were not local - but came from Kent, Surrey and Sussex, as well as much further afield.

He said: "These people use certain games as a focus for recreational violence. But most are not from Lewisham or Southwark. They are from all over South East England, They will be less likely to travel to a game if they think there is going to be less tension."

"But there was an element of spontaneity about May 2. I believe that if the result had been different, we might have seen jubilation rather than violence."

He said he had made written submissions to the Football League about when to stage risky games. "We have told them what our preferences would be," he said.

He added: "The decent fans need to know we will continue to treat them fairly. They have nothing to fear from us. As far as I am concerned it is business as usual. I want us to be able to get on with the business of arresting thugs. But I do not want to hear people saying this is the police taking May 2 out on us. I would like to say that if any of the fans coming to the games give our officers a smile when they turn up, they will get a smile back. Then we can start the season moving on."

He stressed the measure could be reviewed at any time, depending on the behaviour of fans. But it was often very difficult to predict when violence would occur.

"There was some in the game last season against Burnley which arose purely over a row about a hamburger. I know because I saw it myself. Suddenly the whole street erupted. It was quickly dealt with. But that sort of thing can easily lead to more serious disorder."

Striker Neil Harris said: "I think at the moment we are quite used to the stigmas associated with the club. But I can see it getting worse and I can see players saying enough is enough.

Despite the tough measures introduced by Millwall FC, the Metropolitan Police did not lifted its threat of legal action against Millwall.

It was also revealed that the walkway linking The Den to South Bermondsey station would not be ready for the first four home games of the season. Closed circuit television in nearby residential streets, linked to the control room at The Den, was part of the walkway scope of works.

The walkway was still awaiting planning permission from Lewisham and Southwark Councils, with building work planned to begin in mid-July.

However the project was likely to be further delayed over two further wrangles. Millwall FC, who were down to pay for the maintenance and running cost wanted reassurances from the owners of the walkway land, Railtrack, that they would not vastly increase the 5,000 annual cost of leasing the land in the coming years.

The Walkway construction costs had also risen by 104,000 after police insisted on design changes. Southwark, paying the bulk of the construction costs, wanted Lewisham to accept their share of the increased costs of a walkway in their borough. However Lewisham were refusing, saying that they already paid for the matchday policing and the walkway was for the benefit of Southwark residents.

The fixture lists were released on the 13th of June and gave Millwall a home opening day fixture against Rotherham.

The first Hooligan jailed for the May 2nd riot, was Ian Harman (37) of Folkestone,  whose picture was featured as suspect No 1 in the first rouges gallery in the national newspapers. 

He was sentenced to 2 years in prison for violent disorder and banned for attending any football match for 10 years.

 In what was to become a pattern, Harman pleaded guilty after being shown Police video tape which showed him sparking the riot by throwing a pint glass full of urine at the police line on the corner of Zampa Road and Ilderton Road. The glass fell short showering two passing girls in its contents. The promise of convictions was being kept, but could not excuse the abandonment of the streets by the police that night and earlier in the season.

DCI Peter Newman said: "This sentence sends out a strong message from the courts that society will not tolerate this kind of behaviour. We want to thank the public for their tremendous response to our publishing images from that night".

Despite Millwall's announcement at the press conference that Millwall Fans would be banned from the reciprocal games that they banned away supporters from, Leicester,  Portsmouth and Forest broke ranks.

Portsmouth's chief executive Peter Storie said: "Two wrongs don't make a right" and indicated that Millwall supporters would be welcome. Nottm Forest also said they would monitor the situation before making their minds up on the April fixture. Leicester also said that Millwall supporters would be welcome, Stoke had not decided whether they would reciprocate, but Burnley and Wolves said they would.

Tooting and Mitcham chairman John Buffoni confirmed that the friendly with Millwall would go ahead at their new Bishopsford Road ground provided they got their safety certificate in time.

To rub salt into our Playoff wounds the FA announced that Geoff Horsefield was being charged with violent misconduct for raking his studs into Matt Lawrence back during the 1st leg game. If the referee or linesman had seen it, it would surely have merited a red card and could have swung the tie Millwall's way.

By the 3rd week of June Millwall announced that had fixed up two replacement friendlies in Sweden, against GAIS Gothenburg and Trollhattan.

With Lloyd Owusu stalling on a decision of whether to sign for Millwall, McGhee started making his excuses.

"If you look at what we achieved last year, and in the last couple of years, we were getting to the stage where we were one of the clubs on the up and up, where players would say: 'Millwall are an exciting club that I'd like to play for. After what happened at the end of last season, players will now think twice."

However McGhee felt that the bad publicity that followed the riot changed all that.

"It's definitely something that's concerning me. It's not just the players we might want to bring here, but their wives, their families. If a player is talking to his wife and says he's thinking of going to Millwall, she might tell him she doesn't fancy that, because of what happened last season. It's up to me to convince them otherwise."

Mark McGhee also admitted that Marc Bircham, Sean Dyche and Christophe Kinet had probably played their last games for Millwall. He said the trio are 'likely to leave' the club since he is not in a position to offer them new contracts because of the club's troubled finances.

McGhee said: "Those players who are likely to leave have been in a different class for us. Sean Dyche has been a great servant of the club and on several occasions last season I said he was a colossus in defence for us. And Marc Bircham is the heart of Millwall, a first-class character. But the reality is that he has not been the first choice for the last two years. It would be very disappointing to lose a player of his character."

"We have the relative luxury of young players like Charlie Hearn, Peter Sweeney and Mark Phillips who are going to be good players for Millwall and we need to bring them on soon. They have to get their chance. Like Tim Cahill and Steven Reid, somewhere along the line they will be important players for us."

The club's finances are already in the red, he added - and signing new deals with the trio would put it further in debt, he added. The collapse of the ITV Digital deal and the violence of May 2 have worsened the situation.

"We are already making losses," he said. "If I could sign anyone, it would be those three. But we cannot afford it. Unfortunately, no solution has come to light which would get us out of that situation."

Dyche said: "I want to stay and get on with playing football for Millwall. Fans have been asking me why I haven't signed but there has been nothing to sign - which does not make sense because the club has said it wants to keep me. I have only had a verbal offer from the gaffer."

"As time goes on I will have to consider other offers," he added. "But I am still hopeful something may be done."

Goodbye: Bircham and Dyche off to pastures new

Bircham said his goodbyes to his Millwall team-mates and told them he was signing for QPR on a free transfer. Before he left he said: "I had a talk with the chairman Theo Paphitis last week and it seems there is no more money. I know the problem is serious because of the loss of the ITV Digital money. I know Millwall is in a sticky situation but I do not believe it can be as bad as the club says - for instance, we are not as badly off as Bradford or Coventry, with tens of millions of pounds of debt."

He revealed he had turned down Birmingham City, he said. "I had a word with them at the end of the season and they wanted me but they have spent a lot of money on their midfield, bringing in players like Robbie Savage. Next season should be a good season for me so I do not want to spend it in the reserves. The Millwall fans would not have liked me going there much, either. I don't suppose my Millwall tattoo would have gone down too well, either."

Bircham said "I have loved my time with Millwall, I've had eight great years and enjoyed them all - that's why I got the tattoo. I will miss the fans. It does not matter which club I go to, it will not have as good fans as Millwall. I hope wherever I go they will give me a good reception if I play back at The Den. I don't think any other club has the same team spirit It will be like leaving school all over again and missing all your mates. But I won't be going too far."

Millwall's pre-season friendly to officially open Tooting & Mitcham's new stadium at Bishopsford Road, Mitcham, on July 16 was finally scrapped because the ground will not be ready in time. A replacement has been lined up against  Fisher Athletic, managed by former Millwall manager Keith Stevens.

Tooting chairman John Buffoni said: "This is extremely disappointing for both clubs. We were both really looking forward to it. But if there is any chance of re-arranging it, we would be delighted to."

Millwall manager Mark McGhee said: "We have become very good at improvising and we are already speaking to other clubs who wanted to play us."

 Continued......

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