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Chelsea and Arsenal fans of today genuinely bewilder me
1:40pm Wednesday 18th April 2012 in Millwall
LIONS columnist MATT LITTLE this week looks back at the not too distant past when Millwall were in the top flight, Chelsea were just a mediocre club and Arsenal were not considered quite as exotic as they are today.
THEY say that the football club you support is one of the few constants in your life these days and with people moving jobs, home and even countries on a regular basis, I guess it's true.
I cannot speak for others but I have always thought the view of football and football clubs you form when you are between eight and ten years old remains constant too.
The snapshot of football which I took between 1988 and 1990 has always stayed with me to this day.
Perhaps this is why I find some of the norms of 21st century football a bit perplexing.
I grew up in an era when mostly working class men watched direct, full bloodied football in intimidating and crumbling grounds, where hard tackles were cheered and posers were jeered - not the other way around.
Maybe my glasses are very rose tinted, but footballers and football grounds did seem to have a lot more charisma back then.
For better or worse, give me Terry Hurlock and the old Den over Theo Walcott and the Emirates any day of the week.
As for the clubs themselves, well to me Arsenal will always be conservative and a bit stuffy and for some reason no amount of exotic players or samba football will change that.
When I see trendy blokes with haircuts and designer stubble sporting an Arsenal scarf, while waxing lyrical about sexy football over a flat-white coffee, I still cannot help but laugh.
Twenty odd years ago they'd have been Tottenham fans, getting excited about pretty, but ineffective, football down at White Hart Lane.
And when the kids I teach ask me why I don't support a 'big' club like Chelsea I give them a frown and slowly explain to them that to me Chelsea will always be the London club which play at a car park in front of small crowds and with Commodore written across their chests.
It always makes me feel old when I then have to then explain who and what Commodore were.
If they then suggest Manchester United as the team to follow I laugh and say 'what those bottlers? They'll never amount to anything'.
I don't dislike United in the same way others do because I still see them as gallant triers - Liverpool are the club I dislike as the big ‘I ams’.
As for Manchester City, well I always think of them as that team we beat to promotion and whose fans liked waving bananas around.
I did like the fact they had Brother written on their chests, assuming they were a really close-knit club.
Norwich City's success this season is no surprise to me.
The Canaries have always played good football and who can forget Robert Fleck's wonder strike at The Den live on TV?
And when the likes of Talksport go on about West Ham needing to get back to 'where they belong' I always wonder what they mean.
To me they are where they belong - fighting to get back up after getting relegated in truly amateurish fashion.
The teams that need to get back to where they 'belong' in my mind's eye are Nottingham Forest, Derby County, Luton Town and Southampton.
These were very much part of the furniture back then.
In fact, Nottingham Forest will always be a name that I think should be associated with good football, cup finals and the top half of the league.
One illusion that has been shattered, however, is that Millwall are title contenders, long-shots or not, or even a top flight club.
It took many frustrating and disappointing seasons to make me rethink that particular assumption I made from my formative years as a Lions fan.
So this morning will be a particularly painful time for older Coventry City fans.
As the Lions continue to end the season in impressive style, our 1-0 victory looks like condemning the Midlanders to their first taste of third tier football in nearly 50 years.
I'll always think of the Sky Blues as the ultimate top flight survival specialists and epic FA Cup final winners, yet they could be playing Crawley next season.
As for us, well if we can finish as south London's top club then it will seem like normal service is resumed in my slightly skewed view of football.
Because in my mind we always were.
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