Rob Parrish looks at the ugly scenes from the Den in the latest instalment of the League Insider.
Rob Parrish looks at the worrying scenes from the Den in the latest instalment of the Football League Insider
Millwall find themselves under the spotlight for all the wrong reasons following ugly incidents during their home defeat by Middlesbrough.
Referee Chris Sarginson was forced to halt proceedings at the Den on two occasions as objects were hurled towards his assistant following the visitors' second goal before goalkeeper Jason Steele was targeted by further morons among the home contingent.
Sarginson came close to taking the players off the field and abandoning the fixture, but was persuaded by Lions boss Kenny Jackett and Boro counterpart Tony Mowbray to continue as stewards and police moved into position to prevent any further incidents, with the visitors eventually running out 3-2 victors in what would otherwise be remembered as a cracking contest.
The match official's report into the afternoon's events will now be studied by the Football Association as they ponder what action to take against a club whose supporters, it is fair to say, have more than a little bit of 'previous'.
Had the referee taken the players off the field it would have been absolutely the wrong decision to make and could have only served to encourage others among the lunatic minority who still blight football grounds up and down the land to follow suit.
Instead, the idiots responsible for hurling bottles and coins in the direction of the linesman and Boro keeper Steele need to be indentified and banned. Any Millwall fans out there unhappy with the reputation your fans have? Then help the club identify those responsible and weed out the troublemakers.
And while Jackett should be commended for helping persuade the referee to continue with the match when an abandonment looked likely, his comments after the game were far too conciliatory towards the Lions supporters.
"I'm not condoning it," said Jackett, before effectively going on to do just that, adding: "But I do like the passion and enthusiasm. And some of the decisions we've had lately have been tough.
"From our fans' points of view, there was some fantastic passion there and perhaps they felt aggrieved at one or two decisions which didn't go their way."
Let's get a couple of things straight. We all want passion and enthusiasm from supporters. There are few more powerful sights in the game than a packed stadium roaring their support for the men on the field.
But hurling bottles and coins at a match official who you reckon should have raised his flag for offside? That's not passion and enthusiasm, that's violence and thuggery. And it has no place in football.
The chumps in the Dockers Stand who decided to dispense with their drinks in the direction of the linesman after Scott McDonald's effort in the 62nd minute may also be interested to know that the official made the right call.
While the FA took no action against Millwall following incidents involving their fans in the matches against Leeds United and West Ham in 2009, failure to penalise them on this occasion would serve as an invitation to the mindless minority to offend again.