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Agent Lomas talk has freshened up Millwall v West Ham rivalry
3:34pm Wednesday 18th September 2013 in Sport
MILLWALL columnist MATT LITTLE reckons whatever you think about Steve Lomas, his appointment as Lions boss has at least introduced a new dimension to the historic rivalry with West Ham.
WELL, I did say this season would be anything but dull - and so it has proved.
Only a betting pervert would have included Millwall in their accumulator last night, but low and behold the team sitting bottom of the table, having got thumped 5-1 at home to the mighty Derby County in their previous game, came from behind to thrash league leaders Blackpool 3-1.
Whatever your thoughts are of Steve Lomas the ex-West Ham United captain, or of Lomas Millwall manager, you must at least be pleased for his family, who probably genuinely feared for their son/husband/dad’s safety as he left his house to face the baying Bermondsey hoards.
Perhaps that's overstating it, as there certainly weren’t hoards at The Den last night.
Only 8,500 were able to put the horrors of Saturday behind them to show up and witness the game that may very well be the turning point in Lomas’ professional life.
You can only assume those that turned up are the local, hardcore Millwall fans still holding out in the ever shifting landscape of inner-city south London.
I find it hard to imagine many went to the effort or cost of travelling in from the suburbs or even further afield, given our horrific home form over the last two seasons cumulating in Saturday’s humiliation.
Indeed, out of the five of us in my family who go regularly it was only the season ticket holder who lives just down the road from The Den who was confident that he would ‘more than likely go’ to the match.
As for myself, having avidly followed the game via Twitter (and as a result am now optimistic that we will almost definitely make the play-offs), well I would have laughed in your face if you’d offered me a free ticket, programme and pint to go to The Den before kick-off last night.
Football fans fickle?
The 45,000 Millwall fans who go to Wembley picky, bandwagon jumping charlatans?
Not on your nelly.
One Millwall fan who did make the effort to travel in from outside the immediate area was the chairman, whose presence seemingly had an effect similar to that of an Ofsted inspector turning up to observe a failing teacher.
This analogy can be pushed even further, what with the formerly under-performing players pulling out all the stops to show that they do respect the manager, much like poorly behaved pupils suddenly becoming focused and responsive under the gaze of the head teacher.
John Berylson must have wondered what all the fuss was about as Millwall completely dominated the league leaders from our equaliser onwards.
And on that showing he would have given the manager a 'Good', with the simple target of 'achieve consistency' as feedback, with another observation scheduled for this Saturday at The Valley to confirm the grading.
Millwall's record against Charlton is so strong that despite the morale boosting victory against high-flying Blackpool, the pressure is straight back on Lomas to show last night was no fluke by coming away from SE7 with no less than a point.
I don't think it's a coincidence the return of club captain Paul Robinson into the fold saw the team produce a much more Millwall type performance, and he will be a key player in Lomas’ quest to prove he is the right man for the job.
Whether Lomas turns it around or not, one thing his appointment has done is add an interesting new dimension and lease of life to the famous Millwall v West Ham rivalry.
For so long the exchanges between the two sets of fans have focused on tedious arguments about who 'run' who, or who 'showed' where, nonsense that only a tiny percentage of both sets of ‘supporters’ can really comment on with any meaningless authority.
Now, though, there's a topical and football related dialogue bouncing back and forth between the two sets of fans via social networking sites, work emails, texts and over pints in the pub.
And just like their wild celebrations at equalising against little old Millwall in the League Cup back in 2009 demonstrated, it proves West Ham still care very much.
You only have to type Agent Lomas in to Twitter search to see that!
The reason I bring this up now is because what with our very short trip to The Valley coming up, it just highlights to me the fact Charlton never get our juices flowing in quite the same way as that lot from over the river do.
I've sometimes wondered why this is, after all a lot of Millwall and Charlton fans live in the same areas such as Bexleyheath and that's why so many of those Millwall fans (the type that go to Wembley but miss Barnsley at home) turn out for this fixture in big numbers.
But I just think that for the hardcore, every-game Millwall fan, the majority of which are still based in SE London, most Charlton fans simply seem too disparate from their own football philosophies to ignite any real feelings of antagonism.
A big part of Charlton’s modern identity since leaving The Valley in 1985 and then returning in the early 1990s is they've been obsessed with crowd figures.
A significant number of their modern fan base has been recruited from places as far ranging as Faversham and Folkestone via ticket offers and promises of seeing players from the big clubs live in their relatively successful stay in the Premier League.
This is a totally alien concept to Millwall fans, because for us the team you support is something passed down to you through your family, not something that you are bribed in to doing.
Yep, there’s bragging rights to be won at The Valley this Saturday, but for most Millwall fans it will be about who gets to send out, rather than be on the receiving end of, Agent Lomas abuse - or 'banter' as the youth call it - and not who is the best team in Bexleyheath.
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