The Millwall Match Preview – FA Cup First Round Special

fcum 005With about 24 hours to go until kick-off, I’ve finally got my act together to write a Match Preview. I’ve spent my time since the Crawley replay reading about the game, letting the cup fever get to me. Having said that, despite our presence in the Second Round draw this afternoon, I’m having difficulty looking beyond this tie. Thoughts have tended to sway more towards the nightmare of a heavy defeat than the miracle of victory.

Have the players been thinking too much about this one? The performance at Chester was unfortunate to say the least, and we can consider ourselves lucky that was our only League fixture. It’s a good job we had a great start as are supposedly concentrating on the cups this season…

It seems that over 3000 of us have bought tickets, and belatedly I have to say congratulations to the club for throwing on free coaches. Most Dons fans have a realistic view on the likely reception we will get from the regulars at The Den, but for the elderly or those with kids I sensed a few were thinking of ducking it just in case… Knowing they have travel from the ‘Meadow to the away end gives them a lot of reassurance, which pretty much means anyone who wants to come can come… and even those far-flung overseas types can get a chance to watch, either via their telly or the internet…

And about the 3200 we have already sold… I have heard that a number of people got a bit jumpy when their tickets didn’t arrive in the post as expected and got themselves down to Kingsmeadow to buy themselves a replacement… with only 200 for sale on the gate, perhaps anyone who does receive theirs through the post on Monday could meet at a pre-arranged point at London Bridge to sell them on to non-ticket holders, just to make sure everyone that does turn up on the night will get in?

This week I have personally been reminded just how much Millwall are disliked. I have had Arsenal, Foolham, QPR fans telling me just how much they want us to win tomorrow night. Plus we seem to have been adopted by knobhead local Chelski fans who were probably quite surprised to find the FA Cup doesn’t start at the Third Round stage and there is football below the Prem…

millwallStrangely I feel a tiny bit of sympathy for our hosts, they obviously suffer this every week… although that sounds like the typical hug-a-hoodie style reaction you would expect from the Guardian-reading liberal elite that support Wimbledon. I’m sure I’ll be reminded of various misdemeanours their supporters have got up to in the past in the comments section… It’s just I remember going on a mates stag do in Manchester which just happened to be the night before Millwall’s Cup Semi at Old Trafford, stepping out of a bar at 1am to find locals chasing anyone with a London accent left, right and centre. These weren’t thugs, they were just normal blokes like me, who happened to be earmarked for a kicking thanks to their association with a club with a large hooligan element. Obviously I stood in the corner smoking a cigarette, bricking it while my mates decided to stay for one more…

Yet it doesn’t help when you see photos of Millwall fans in Galatasaray shirts when Leeds came to visit (that reminds me of the ugly cunt on the turnstile at Fisher with the MK scarf on… of course Fisher do have links of sorts with Millwall). Still you would expect Millwall to have a little more class than start resorting to the MK chants you would expect from inbreds such as Kettering and Chester… or maybe not? Either way, the thought that an unlikely victory for us will be held up and hijacked by the more retarded half of South West London (the ones that prefer their blue with white rather than yellow…) is a little unsettling to say the least.

But onto the game itself… Don’t ask me what sort of team Terry will play tomorrow. In fact I don’t think it really matters. The difference in class between our best possible XI and our worst is minimal compared to the gulf in class between the two squads. Terry will be better off picking a side that he is sure won’t bottle it, as shocks are caused in FA Cup ties such as these more because of mental strength than the ability to pass the football around nicely.

For example, last year Brown selected Haswell over Hussey at left back. Ultimately it didn’t work as our midfield collectively suffered an arsehole malfunction when it came to the big occasion, but don’t expect this to have put him off making these sort of decisions in future… The likes of Alan Inns could find himself playing a big part in Brown’s plans, if only because Inns has a bigger heart than most blue whales.

At times like these I always like to think of the 88 Cup Final. Lets face it, ignoring the fact that Wimbledon finished sixth that year, with the experience the Liverpool side had of big occasions, they would have won that game nine times out of ten, and the other one after a replay. The victory came about thanks to a moment of genius by Bobby Gould (not that he really had much of a say in the matter…). Letting the players go down the pub took their minds off the match when otherwise they would have been stuck in a hotel, playing cards and thinking too much about what was to come. As it was they turned up on the day without a care in their heads, they were by far the more relaxed side and went on to a famous victory.

Last year, I always thought the players did a little too much publicity before the game, and were tense on the night because of it. This year it seems the players dealt with the media at training on Thursday; I understand the players are coming in for a light training session on Monday morning but the best thing Brown could do after that is take them to Thorpe Park with their families for the rest of the day…

new denLets face it, there will be no surprises coming Millwall’s way. Kenny Jackett will have watched Wimbledon, seen the DVD’s, noticed how we play, the strengths we have and will probably second guess how Terry Brown is planning on using them. The only way there will be a shock is if our boys play above themselves and a few of the Millwall players let their manager down on the night. As professionals you wouldn’t expect that to happen.

Yet I have just seen a Northwich side (a division below us) upset a Charlton team that are above Millwall in League One. Certain Charlton players looked slightly freaked out by their surroundings, and the Northwich fans seemed to notice and play on that. While Millwall will be on their own soil, they certainly won’t be used to the North Stand being full of away supporters. Lets use this to our advantage. Lets create a wall of noise, get on the back of any player in a blue shirt who looks like he might be having a tough time – right from the start. Lets really turn it into a home game.

If you haven’t got a ticket, get yourself to the ground on the day. Even if you get turned away, get yourself in the Millwall sections (obviously don’t wear your colours – this isn’t Trumpton or Staines…). And to all of you that are going, regardless of where you sit, enjoy the game… these don’t come along very often in the division we are in, they haven’t occurred at all as we rose through the Leagues, but are hopefully a sign of things to come when we eventually make it into League 2. As a club that doesn’t have a great record on beating higher ranked clubs in cup competitions (unless we eventually get kicked out for fielding illegible players…), surely we are due one now???

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