A Millwall supporter has admitted that the fact that no one likes him is a source of great anxiety.
Mike Walton, from Dagenham, has long purported to be unmoved by the low opinion other clubs have of him and his fellow fans, regularly proclaiming his indifference to their dislike.
He said: “For years, we knew they didn’t like us, and we took a certain pleasure in telling them that we cared nothing for their opinions. You should have seen the looks on their faces!”
But the regular need to publicly announce his disdain began to take its toll on Walton, and last season he began looking enviously at clubs who seemed to be popular members of the football community.
“After a while, everyone giving you the cold shoulder starts to get you down,” he said. “It’s always 'Millwall fans did this', 'Millwall fans ripped up that', 'Millwall fans rampaged over there'. Nobody says that about Crystal Palace.
“I’ll always be able to bond with other Millwall fans over our shared unpopularity, but sometimes you want to mix beyond your own narrow, violent circle,” he continued. “Sometimes you think, 'Why can’t we be more like Swansea, or Watford', or, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, Leyton Orient?”
Beginning with next week’s match against Colchester, Walton will begin smiling at fans of other clubs, complementing their appearance, and leaving chocolates on seats in the away end.
“If just one other fan in the whole of the country was prepared to admit that they liked us,” he said, “that would be a great comfort to me. I would finally feel less alone.”
Walton added, however, that if a West Ham fan said anything to him at all, he would still give him a black eye out of principle.
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