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Would Millwall have a bigger ticket allocation if not for Palace Ultras?
3:59pm Thursday 18th October 2012 in Sport
MILLWALL columnist MATT LITTLE feels the pre-match antics of the Palace Ultras ahead of this Saturday’s derby is the main reason why the Lions have been handed a reduced ticket allocation at Selhurst Park.
AS you read this there is a hive of activity going on in a garage in suburbia somewhere.
In this garage a ‘highly provocative’ (their words, not mine) banner is being spray painted by Crystal Palace fans for the benefit of visiting Millwall fans.
Ironically this is one of the reasons the police have reduced our allocation - because of the nature of this new fan culture among a section of home fans at Selhurst Park.
I say ironic because we do have our own fan culture at Millwall that does cause the police problems, but this has never been the case for our visits to Palace.
I have never known Millwall to take what would be known in hooligan parlance as a ‘firm’ to Selhurst Park in all the years I’ve been going, which is more than 25.
Yes, there have been minor incidents, but for such a nearby derby fixture involving up to sometimes 6,000 away fans they have been just that – minor.
So after all those years of calling us nasty names from their high horses it is actually the Palace fans under police scrutiny.
What cost turning the once sterile and silent Selhurst Park into a mini San Siro then?
Well, quite a lot by the looks of it, what with police escorts for home fans, road blocks and ticket reductions for away fans.
The board at Millwall would dearly love to be able to allow as many away fans as possible at The Den and reduce our astronomical police bill.
However, we are forced to turn away 4,000 potential customers in both home and away sections for high profile games such as the play-offs or against the likes of Leeds and West Ham.
Thankfully common sense prevailed with the last visit of Charlton, another fixture which doesn’t get the juices of our more volatile fans going either.
The police recognise this and give us the rare chance to maximise the crowd without too much fuss.
Yet Palace are seemingly happy to, if not encourage, then at least not dissuade this element that are starting to cost them money.
They know Millwall and Brighton would take up as many tickets as possible, but now the police will not allow that.
I am not sure of the situation with Charlton, but I assume it will be similar for their away allocation.
Ironically (again) this isn’t because these so-called Ultras are serious hooligans, but they act in such a way that they could provoke a negative response in high profile fixtures against the likes of us, Brighton and Charlton.
This blog compared their behaviour being akin to your little sister blowing raspberries at you from behind your dad’s legs last season – and we all know that we are capable of throwing a bit of tantrum when we see that.
This leads me back to this provocative banner (again, their words not mine) being made by these admirers of European fan culture.
I’m not going to mock them this year, we’ve all done stupid things when we were younger, although mine involved beer goggles and getting slaps from bouncers, rather than being on YouTube waving camp banners and singing even camper songs. But each to their own.
But what on earth are they trying to achieve?
Apparently it’s about Crystal Palace being against racism.
Scratching your head?
Yeah, I know.
This is meant to be an insult.
The only thing it is insulting is people’s intelligence.
Last time I checked no player has ever left Millwall because of a racist rant by one of our chairmen.
Unfortunately Palace cannot claim the same.
It is an insult to all the people that work so tirelessly at Millwall to counter racism, people that have been recognised by Kick It Out for their outstanding work and dedication, as well as being an inspiration to other clubs – given that it’s supposed to be a cheap shot at us.
Millwall are a small football club playing in 21st century inner-city London and all the problems that that entails.
I’m not sure if the opinions of some teenagers from the suburbs are that relevant to us or those of Daily Mail readers either.
Anyway, what a disgrace it is to trivialise racism and use it as a currency in tedious football ‘banter’ in this way.
Almost as bad as Marvin Sordell not taking his claim of racism seriously enough to actually report it to the numerous police officers and stewards present at the time, instead being almost blasé about it on Twitter hours later.
In fact it’s interesting the way the media have missed the real story behind the Sordell claims.
Why hasn’t Marvin been asked about his lack of action at the time?
He wasn’t playing so had plenty of opportunity and time to make an official compliant. Also where are all the ‘Millwall AND police in racism accusations’ headlines?
He is after all claiming the police ignored the alleged abuse.
Then again I am a historian rather than a journalist, so perhaps look at things a little differently.
Indeed I would argue headlines like ‘Millwall fans racially abuse Marvin Sordell’ as just a bit misleading.
It conjures up images of the whole stadium involved in monkey chants or the like when in reality the allegations are levelled at an individual.
Anyway, back to this banner rumour - it could be the usual internet nonsense.
Yet enough posters on Palace’s message-boards felt it was a ‘good idea’ if true and ‘funny’.
Perhaps it will be the now legendary ‘south London is ours’ motif that they are so proud of instead?
This would only be provocative if Palace fans had travelled in decent numbers to The Den over the last 50 years.
But as they haven’t it’s just more raspberry blowing from them.
I think the final irony is whatever this banner says it will say far more about them than it does us.
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