Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Stepping into the Lions' Den

Millwall 1 v 0 AFCB - our away day.
First call, bus into Redhill.
Robert ans Stephen at Redhill, keeping their AFCB colours hidden already.
We did not have to get up so early for a trip to Millwall from Redhill in Surrey. It was not more than 25 miles away as the crow flies but for Robert, Stephen and myself it meant a bus trip down to Redhill, a train to East Croydon and then a tram to West Croydon station before another train to South Bermondsey. We had to do all that by 11.15 if we wanted to get to the match an hour before the start and things started well with the early bus into town.
Just caught the tram in time, but where is West Croydon station?
Where we went a bit astray was in knowing where the trams needed to be picked up from in East Croydon, but with some guidance we soon found our way and jumped on the first tram just as it came into view on our exiting the train station. West Croydon was another puzzle though as the train station there is well hidden and it took several more minutes to locate it meaning a late dash for the South Bermondsey train, but we made it and were soon walking along the platform at South Bermondsey where there were thousands of Lions' fans making their way to the ground as well.
Our first glimpse of The Den behind us at South Bermondsey station.
I had told the boys to cover up their colours and stay close at all times but the Millwall fans seemed in joyous mood and quite relaxed despite the gravity of the game for their club. We found our way slowly at the back of the queue to leave the station and peeled off to the away supporters walk. It is comforting I suppose to have the pleasure of walking the fence caged route to The Den with a few policemen scattered around for good measure. But it is a shame that the fans can't mingle safely and away fans get a good look at all four sides of the ground without the segregation. All was calm though at the Away stand and after a few photos we stepped inside to the concourse which was very wide but packed with Bournemouth supporters getting their pre-match drinks and grub.
Heading down to the stadium - our protecting fence lined walk.

I have the tickets somewhere.
We headed upstairs to get a good view of the pitch for the first time and once seated we looked around to see what was going in all around. Ryan Allsop and Lee Camp were first to emerge with plenty of hoots and cheers from the AFCB fans. The teams soon followed and it was photo shooting time for me while the boys set about blowing up their inflatable bananas and catching as many red and black balloons to release when the teams came out.

All ready to enter The Den.
Lots of security and police guard the entrances.
Stephen and Robert tick another ground off on their 92.
It was good to see a big screen although it was pixellated and not the clearest you'll ever see. We had plenty of room around us though and spread out along the seats while the players did their warm ups. Tokelo was coming in for a lot of attention as well as Yann Kermorgant and Tommy Elphick. Meanwhile, we were joined by Michael Dunne of All Departments and Damien Hill and their friends, and we started to chant and get into the spirit of things.
The big screen.
I'm not sure that you're going down chants did AFCB any favours.

Stephen is happy to have an inflatable and a balloon.
Almost time to release them chaps.
Tommy Elphick goes through his routine.
The teams came out to quite a racket and while it was an early start there was no less enthusiasm from the crowd which was a capacity turnout. I thought that our fans were on top form again and while the "Your going down with Yeovil taunts" were perhaps ill advised, I don't think Millwall fans were that interested in anything apart from getting the three points. Their team seemed similarly keen to do a job and before half time they were one up through a Martyn Woolford header, and the best I thought AFCB could do would be a draw. As it was I think the number of changes to the Cherries did not help and with the passing not quite on song it was Millwall who came out on top by just the one goal.
Millwall fans have a party.

Millwall's day to celebrate.
Robert and Stephen watched on with amazement as the Millwall fans ran onto the pitch to see the players consumed like a pack of bees had landed on on them as they disappeared from view. We had no need to hang around for long and when the Millwall fans started to turn their attention to the away stand we felt it was time to exit to let them enjoy their team and Ian Holloway's big day.

Stephen decided that two balloons had to be taken home, so we had quite a journey home with Stephen holding his Bournemouth balloons on a platform that was jam packed with Millwall supporters at South Bermondsey! We managed to squeeze onto a London Bride train before finding a south bound train back to Redhill. We'll look forward to visiting the lion's Den again next season. 

If you want to hear more about how AFCB slipped up on the last day of the 2013/14 season have a listen to Michael Dunne's last All Departments' Kangaroo Court of the season. The podcast can be found on the All Departments' website or on the right hand panel on Cherry Chimes - just scroll down to the sound bar and click on it.   


  1. As I've said elsewhere, the steward who greeted us as we'd climbed the steps into the stadium, was different class. The vast majority of stewards could take a page out of his book, you'll know who I mean Peter, as you walked past him as well.
    What I watched on the pitch was pretty horrifying to be honest, it seemed the referee had little control of the game, and allowed Millwall to make challenges that frankly should of seen a minimum of two sent off before halftime, which also had our players wondering if they had the ball too long, they could end up being maimed, add to that, the appalling scenes from Holloway and his coaching staff, it made for a more than torid time for the team, resulting in Adam Smith being subbed. In fact, the way that referee was, I half expected him to send Smith off for his challenge, he was that inept. I have no time for clubs and their fans who behave like that, they can't win by fair means, so let's intimidated everyone and win that way, cowardice basically!!
    But I'll give credit where it's due, they did make a heck of a noise, you can't take that away from them, although what I did find amusing, and hope someone can correct me here, but in our support, were many women/girls, of all ages, yet all I saw amongst the Millwall fans were guys, is it because there behaviour is so poor, they can't take wives/girlfriends along to games with them, as it would cramp their style??
    I'd be ashamed to support a club like that, I'd be ashamed of our fans, and the fact the away fans have to be penned in to what was more like a prison environment than a football ground, purely for our safety in this instance, I'm sure it's to prevent all out war with some other teams. Again it shows how poor the F.A, are as well, that they allow clubs like Millwall to have grounds where the opposition play in fear of their safety, it was Leeds at home all over again, great shame we weren't able to relegate them!! UTCIAD

    1. I don't know how we fare statistically against other clubs for women supporters but I have always been surprised at how many there are of all ages. Was Adam Smith targeted? When he played against us for Derby he was certainly trying to get Millwall players booked and tried to con the ref into thinking it was the other way round. This time I didn't notice but that was the excuse for his substitution. As for intimidation, Millwall fans have to be careful about what they shout or they get arrested. That does make them remarkably clever with their remarks which sometimes work and frequently rebound. Barry Fry once told the press that Millwall was the one ground he wouldn't take his kid along to and his players got the message and consequently played like a bunch of pussies. On the other hand many good players (we obviously don't bother with the mediocre) take on the challenge of being targeted and stick it to us. Are we a bunch of cowards for trying to subvert the opposition? I thought that was our job as supporters but then I am Millwall.

  2. I suppose it comes down to what is acceptable, and what you're used to watching. It wouldn't do for me!! No problem with the chanting from the Millwall fans, far from it, I thought the atmosphere generated was fabulous, and any player quaking in their boots at that, shouldn't be playing. My concern was how things were allowed to degenerate on the pitch as I saw it. I'm sure you will of viewed it differently, as I've said, that sort of behaviour is not what I look for in my team. Yes, Smith came in for a great deal of poor tackling, I can't comment on the Derby game, but again it depends on the treatment he was getting then as well, which as a Millwall fan you see nothing wrong in. What you find acceptable, and what I find acceptable, I think are poles apart!! UTCIAD