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Palace Ultras' Millwall banner was hardly worth all the effort
2:07pm Wednesday 24th October 2012 in Sport
MILLWALL columnist MATT LITTLE is still bewildered by the Palace Ultras after they unfurled a banner mocking the Lions in Saturday’s 2-2 derby at Selhurst Park.
ONE of the things you have to sometimes endure in the military is the monotony of guard duty.
I was no different, except mine was sometimes interrupted by the local kids.
They somehow instinctively knew we couldn’t chase after them, let alone shoot the cheeky little scamps.
Therefore they had great fun trying to wind us up any way they could.
They shouted abuse, pulled faces, even threw stones at us.
Sometimes they’d spend hours goading us before running off.
But that’s kids for you.
I was transported back to those days on seeing the banner the Palace Ultras unfurled on Saturday.
Funny enough, a bit like those local kids, I don’t even think they themselves thought the banner was funny or particularly eloquent.
It certainly didn’t make much sense, but it was the fact that they could ‘get away with it’ that gave them their real pleasure.
How many hours spent working on that for literally a few minutes of childlike mirth though?
I just feel sorry for the poor parents whose garage was besieged by teenage banner zealots for a week.
And again, as asked in last week’s blog, what cost to Palace’s coffers and family image?
Especially as I now hear they are thinking of making a banner for now departed manager Dougie Freedman when he returns with his new club Bolton Wanderers.
I am sure the police would take a dim view of that intelligence and use it as a reason to increase their presence and therefore costs.
I guess that’s their lookout though, and anything that weakens local rivals is alright by me – whether it’s departing managers, soon-to-be-off star players, sinking stands or higher police bills.
On the pitch Millwall kept up their excellent record against the Eagles, especially at Selhurst Park.
We just don’t know how to lose there and despite giving them a two goal head start we can actually feel a little bit disappointed not to claim all three points after totally dominating the second half.
However, to grab a point from the position we were in against a local rival and the division’s form team away from home is a terrific result, whatever way you look at it.
Our second half domination did expose another weakness of the Ultras, that is to say that being such a fabricated atmosphere it often falls flat when the home side are being so dominated for such a long period of time.
There’s none of that raw energy of frustration and anger you get without a drum or use of choreography.
I’ve lost count of the amount of times an angry Den crowd, frustrated with a poor decision by an official or woken up by someone in blue finally putting in a hard tackle, has spurred the team on to grab a draw or snatch an unlikely win.
In fact, it happened most recently against Dougie Freedman’s new club, Bolton Wanderers.
Yet we could exercise no control over the rather embarrassing collapse to Birmingham City last night.
In fact, it was probably our taunts that spurred Marlon King on to his hat-trick.
Fair play to him and more fool us, perhaps a drum is the way forward, as although he is a decent striker at this level, I doubt he has ever been that pumped up at Selhurst Park or The Valley.
But on a serious note it did highlight a frailty of ours over the last two seasons, one that developed as soon as the likes of Neil Harris, Gary Alexander and Andy Frampton were moved on.
We just don’t seem to have that killer Millwall instinct or nasty streak in this current squad.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, we miss a Terry Hurlock or a Kevin Muscat in this side.
At 3-2 these types of players would have woken their team-mates up with a few home truths and also made the opposition a bit fearful for the future of their tendons and ligaments.
Last night we tamely let a rather poor Birmingham City back into a game they had been trailing 3-0 in.
People can go on about tracking players and such all they want, but put simply there is no excuse for that kind of collapse at home.
A bit more character would have seen us through, it is why you get Cup upsets.
However, let’s finish on a positive, we are scoring goals quite freely at the moment and are creating plenty of chances.
In fact, there is a negative in there too – we should be scoring a lot more goals than we do.
Palace should have been swotted four or five goals to two and Birmingham City should have been 5-0 down at half time and ready to go home.
We have been extremely wasteful this season and that can be the difference between lower mid-table and outside bet for the play-offs in this division.
On Saturday we really need to see the perfect football performance against Huddersfield Town – a comfortable 2-0 win.
As insurance though, or if you’re a rival fan reading this, I would definitely put this game down on a Goals Galore coupon.
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