Cottagers Confidential: Millwall fans don't necessarily have the best reputation. Speaking as someone who's from America, about the only times we hear Millwall mentioned at all is when something bad happens (or the supporters show up in a bad movie). How do you find it best to let people know that the club isn't how it's portrayed in the media?
The Man in Block 11: I'm not sure (at least an element of) the club isn't how it's portrayed in the media, it's more a matter of the problems at our club being far wider than just our club. The difficulty is, when the media wants to shine a spotlight on an issue, like violence, like racism, like abusive chants, while they can find it pockets in most clubs, they tend to select Millwall as the example. I suspect this is because as a smaller club there will be reduced disagreement and backlash - if the TV broadcaster did something similar about, say, Liverpool they'd be biting the hand that feeds them. There'd be a risk of people not doing interviews, and tens or hundreds of thousands of fans threatening to boycott or cancel subscriptions. I also suspect that, because the reputation is already there, readers and viewers will be less inclined or able to disagree - the reporter's new story is passively evidenced by precedent. Everyone reads an initial story, while a small fraction take notice of any retraction made later when the club argues and evidences back.
The only way to combat this is to try to publicize the good things we do, and Millwall both officially and unofficially does a lot for the local community. Trouble is, what story would you rather read as a neutral? Millwall fans lead anti-knife crime initiative in Lewisham, or Millwall fans chant about Jimmy Savile versus Leeds?
CC: The club wasn't that successful last season and I don't see that they've strengthened themselves a whole lot in the off-season (I don't think Matthew Briggs is going to put anyone over the top). What's your realistic expectation for the season? Which teams do you see being promoted? Relegated?
TMIB11: While we were terrible last season overall, we finished the season 8 games unbeaten and have looked strong in pre-season and the opener. I think we were a good side badly managed for the 1st half of the season, and we've now regained some self-belief on and off the pitch. I think with our current squad we'll finish around 14th, but Holloway is the kind of manager people want to play for, and we could further improve the squad over the season.
My feeling is we'll see Wolves, Derby and Fulham go up, while Blackpool, Birmingham and Leeds go down.
CC: I can't remember the last time Millwall came to Craven Cottage. It seems that about 4000 supporters have bought tickets. How do the teams supporters view a club like Fulham?
TMIB11: Did you know the Craven Cottage single-match attendance record was for a Millwall match? It's on Wikipedia, so it must be true.
I think we find the supporters and set-up of the club to be laughable, but grudgingly admire what the club has achieved in recent years. Out of all the London clubs, Fulham probably does the most to try to lure tourists with no football allegiances (or at the very least, no allegiances in London). Having a neutral section is ridiculous. Who is so intimidated by Fulham fans and their aggressive clapping that they have to be securely segregated? Who, as a neutral supporter, is so committed to neutrality that they can't pretend to like the home side in the match they are attending? Is this the kind of support you want to attract? Swiss diplomats in London on business? Don't even get me started on the Michael Jackson statue.
However, most Millwall fans dream of making the Premier League one day, and the limited rationale behind this madness is "if Fulham can do it, maybe we can do it". To last in the Premier League for so long, as a London club, with attendances middling around 20,000, it's set an aspiration for us to aim for. We'd just like to fulfill that ambition more rowdily.
CC: Predicted Lineup? Result?
TMIB11: Fulham 1 - Millwall 1. I think Millwall will go with the same starting 11 that beat Leeds United, and a lot of players were rested on Tuesday to enable this.