A “devastated” grieving family has thanked Millwall fans for erupting in applause for their dad and uncle during the opening game of the season.

Lifelong Millwall fan Steve Murrell died suddenly aged 57 on July 20 after collapsing in the street in Kennington, just around the corner from his house. A post-mortem found he had died from a blood clot caused by deep-vein thrombosis.

“It was so sudden and unexpected,” Steve’s niece and Goddaughter Louise Gaul, told News Shopper.

After his shock death, Steve’s 15-year-old daughter Maisie appealed to Millwall fans on social media to clap for her father in the 57th minute of the Lions’ fixture against Preston North End on August 3 – a game she had planned to go to with her dad.

News Shopper:

Maisie and Steve were both season ticket holders

“They never missed a game,” Louise said.

She added: “It was all Maisie’s idea. They were planning on going to the game together and a few days after he died she put a plea out on Facebook for everyone to clap for her dad.”

Peckham-born Steve had been going to The Den since he was six years old when his dad started taking him to matches.

“The whole family is Millwall really,” Louise told News Shopper.

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Steve's brother in law, Brian, nephew Anthony, daughter Maisie, son Billy, niece Louise and partner Susan

But the 38-year-old from Plumstead, who grew up next door to her uncle, never managed to make the trip until Saturday’s game when about 20 family members gathered to pay tribute to Steve including his partner Susan.

His 25-year-old daughter Kerry, who couldn’t make the match as she lives in Somerset, released a lantern in memory of her dad when the game kicked off.

When the stadium broke into applause in the 57th minute of the match, Louise’s family were staggered by the support.

“I was just bawling my eyes out. The noise went right through you.

“I was so mixed with my emotions. I so wish I’d gone there sooner. I’d have loved to have gone down there with my uncle,” she said.

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Billy, Maisie and Susan hold up Steve's memorial flag in the Barry Kitchener stand

And Steve’s son, 29-year-old Billy, was equally overwhelmed with emotion.

“Bill’s really not one to show emotion. But on Saturday his face was burning bright red and he turned to me and said: ‘that really choked me up, Lou’,” Louise described.

As well as the incredible support from fans – which included Preston supporters in the away stand – the club stepped in to pay tribute to Steve by putting him in the match programme.

“The club contacted us and said to let them know if there’s anything else they can do – but what more could you want?” Louise gushed.

After the family’s emotional day out, they have vowed to go back down to The Den when the Lions will play Hull City – hoping to be joined by Steve’s mum and dad, Maureen and Bill.

Louise thanked fans for clapping for Steve, describing it as “beyond anything we could have imagined.”

She added: “It will stick with us for the rest of our lives. Everyone was willing to take part and everyone stood up - even the Preston fans.

“It was amazing to see everyone united.”