'A Millwall Bushwacker? What the **** does that even mean?'
Millwall has been hugely important in my relationship with my dad - a lot of our conversations end up coming back round to that one way or another. Recently, someone tried telling me that going to football on Boxing Day is against the Christmas spirit and family togetherness, but to me it's one of the most important parts of Christmas. When my parents split up that was kind of the deal – we saw my mum Christmas Day, and Boxing Day we would be with my dad at Millwall. It was really weird last season, we had Brighton away on Boxing Day and they postponed it because the transport wasn’t good enough. We literally didn’t know what to do. We kind of just sat around my dad’s – it threw a spanner in the works as we were so used to it.
I’ll never forget it - my cousin gave my brother a black eye – he jumped up to celebrate and punched my brother in the face.
I’ve always loved away days. There’d be me and my brother in my dad’s car, my uncle and cousins in the other. We had a system that I now realise is really weird – you’d flash your lights once if you wanted to stop at the next services, and the other would respond with one flash to agree, or twice to say no. Admittedly it’s odd why you’d have the option of no – but if they said no, you could flash twice to say ‘No, I’ve really got to’. God knows why we had such a complex system, but that was life before the mobile phone, and I loved it.
Our chant ‘No one likes us’ is great - it’s our bonding mentality and it fires everyone up. And it’s true! We’ve always had terrible press, in my opinion outrageously and completely unfairly. I remember the infamous article in The Sun of a black reporter’s experience at Millwall. He was disgusted because he saw Millwall fans saluting and shouting ‘Sieg heil’. But when they actually looked into the footage, the hand signal was just wrong and the chants of ‘Sieg heil’ were actually Brighton fans chanting ‘Seagulls’. But there was this big story, a full two-page spread on ‘The horror at Millwall, the worst things I’ve ever experienced at a football game’, except he didn’t actually experience anything bad.
Last season we had Brighton away on Boxing Day and they postponed it because the transport wasn’t good enough. We literally didn’t know what to do.
I have seen people who think they are hooligans, but we don’t get much violence anymore, so if you’re a Millwall Bushwacker, what the f*** does that even mean? In the ’70s and ’80s, and when I was going as a kid, it did mean something – they did meet up to fight. But in a way it was also a protection thing, when you were a family going to away games. As horrible as that sounds, it’s like when people say the Yakuza and the Mafia actually make an area safer. Because of the reputation that Millwall are Millwall – people would just back off.
I was at the Millennium Stadium for the FA Cup final in 2004. It wasn’t bittersweet at all, it was great seeing all the Millwall fans having a great day out, and the Man United fans not really enjoying themselves despite the fact they were winning the FA Cup. It was amazing watching Dennis Wise almost give Ronaldo a breakdown, because every time the ref looked away at a corner he literally hugged him. I liked Wise. I thought he fired up the crowd and players well. I always remember him taking a corner one time and the away fans started to throw coins at him. He paused, picked them up, put them in his pocket, said thanks and took the corner. I thought that was brilliant.
We don’t get much violence anymore, so if you’re a Millwall Bushwacker, what the f*** does that even mean?
We were all stunned when Ian Holloway was appointed. I couldn’t believe we got an actual manager, like a great, established manager who plays really good football. Obviously you never know how it’ll turn out, but I’m completely on board with the dude, I think he’s an amazing manager and a great character.
Naturally, the focus this season is staying up and that’s all we can hope for at the moment. If he can keep us up this season I genuinely think he can get us promoted into the Premier League. I may be over-optimistic, but I’ve always felt we have a great squad with quality players. We have a small squad, which has always been our struggle – it’s why I don’t want us to have any more FA Cup runs, because although the times we’ve done it has been great, it’s pulled apart our actual season.
I’ve never been more star-struck than when meeting footballers. As a kid I was all about music and Millwall, I’d go to tonnes of gigs and meet bands, and I’d never get star-struck. But I was working on the till in HMV once, looked up and Neil Harris was standing there. I couldn’t speak. I didn’t let him know I knew who he was, just served him and took payment. No one else there had a clue who he was, but I literally couldn’t speak.
So Harris got testicular cancer and was obviously out for a long while. But we kept him on, kept his contract and he eventually beat it. When he returned he was a little off pace, and though we were pleased to have him back, he wasn’t quite the same player. But then there was a game, it must’ve been towards the end of the season, and he still hadn’t scored since coming back.