Filed: Thursday, 15th September 2011
By: Preview Percy
Preview Percy is actually away on a Saga Cruise on the SS Marco Boogers which is currently touring somewhere where he’ll complain about the food, water, tea, heat and anything else he can think of while he’s not chasing after rich widows. Which is exactly what he’s like when he’s at home really.
In his absence, we got an old Millwall preview of his, dusted it down and added a few bits and pieces in the hope none of you would notice. We’re not going to give him any more Werthers Originals though...
Since the date of this weekend's derby was announced every teenage keyboard warrior on both sides of the divide has been chipping in about 'standing your ground' and 'making sure that they don’t take liberties', seemingly oblivious to the fact that Green Street was fiction rather than a documentary. It was a bloody awful film as well for what it’s worth.
Of course it’s fair to say that they have more than their fair share of unpleasant characters amongst their numbers. Years ago your correspondent lived not a million miles away from their ground. Unsurprisingly, most of my then local pub was actually Chelsea. One of the funniest things I’ve ever heard a Chelsea supporter say came up in a debate he was having with a Millwall fan who was spouting forth very loudly that only Millwall fans had any true passion for their team.
The Chelsea fan calmly pointed out that: a) the side for whom the fans showed 'so much passion' were playing at home in a vital promotion match as they spoke; b) the ground was literally half empty; c) the ground was only two miles away from the pub; and d) neither the Millwall supporter nor any of his replica kit-wearing mates had managed to muster up enough 'passion' to either make the two-mile trip to the ground or to bother to watch the match on any of the five big screens that the pub possessed.
Of course whenever Millwall are mentioned there is usually someone on hand to point out the strides the club have made in recent times to disassociate themselves from the more Neanderthal elements of society, though employing Dennis Wise as manager a while back was probably a bit of a publicity own goal in that respect.
In researching this piece I did happen across one unofficial attempt to give the club a slightly different image in the form of a website aimed at gay supporters called The Pink Lions. The home page calls upon the London gay community to adopt the club in order to 'reclaim the club from the thuggish element' and asks us to imagine a 'sell-out at the New Den every week with a carnival atmosphere'.
Sadly for those of us who love cheap jokes, since the site was set up some years ago that appears to have been it, with little activity taking place since. You have to give them ten out of ten for trying mind, though I’d say that the home page slogan 'You ain’t a real man ‘til you’ve had a ‘Wall fan' is probably a few years ahead of its time in New Cross.
Last time the two clubs met in the 2009 Carling Cup (a game won 3-1 by West Ham after extra time), Millwall had just missed out on promotion after a hilarious play-off final that saw them go down 3-2 to Scunthorpe, a team that play in in claret and blue and are known as 'The Iron'. Which made a few of us smile at the time.
Goalscorer for the Lions that day was Gary Alexander, another player who started life out at the Boleyn and eventually ending up the wrong side of the river via spells at Exeter, Swindon, Hull and the Os. Alexander missed an absolute sitter at Wembley and, if one were in mischievous mood, one might almost think that he was simply doing his job as a former Hammer. An amusing thought but for the fact that he was reputedly a Millwall supporter as a boy.
On the pitch it’s been an unbeaten start at home thus far for 'Wall. They've beaten Forest (2-0), Morecombe in the Carling Cup (2-0) whilst drawing with Peterborough (2-2) and Barnsley (0-0). These results, combined with just one win and a draw from their four away games leaves them in 15th place in the Championship going into the game.
Leading goalscorers in the league this season are Darius Henderson - Millwall's summer signing from Sheffield United - and Liam Trotter (no, really) with two apiece. Hameur Bouazza, who moved to the Den on a free transfer in the summer having been released by French Ligue 2 club Arles-Avignon also has two to his name, although one of those came in the Carling Cup.
In between the sticks should be regular stopper David Forde, one of a number of players to have featured for both clubs. The 31-year-old Irishman spent two years at West Ham from 2002-2004 but failed to make a single first-team appearance; subsequent spells at Derry City, Cardiff, Luton and Bournemouth led Forde to Milwall in 2008, for whom this weekend will mark his 150th league appearance.
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce - who made 65 apperances for George Graham's Millwall during a two-year spell in the early '80s as part of a side that featured a young Teddy Sheringham - has a plethora of options to choose from this weekend but will almost certainly stick to his favoured 4-3-3 formation. That should leave Carlton 'Goals' Cole as as shoo-in for the target man role with John Carew likely to take the suspended Freddy Piquionne's place on the bench.
Julien Faubert and Matt Taylor started out wide against Portsmouth last weekend and with both likely to pose unique problems for the opposition - Taylor from his free kicks and corners, Faubert with his pace and crossing ability - the likes of David Bentley and Sam Baldock will almost certainly have to settle for the bench, at best. Mark Noble has his best game of the season against Pompey which should guarantee him the nod ahead of Papa Bouba Diop, whilst Kevin Nolan and Henri Lansbury did little to suggest they deserve to be dropped.
However the defence represents Sam Allardyce's biggest problem, with West Ham having conceded eight goals in their last four outings. Joey O'Brien and George McCartney will probably start given the lack of competition - although Guy Demel could be an option for Allardyce due to his size - but the boss faces a real conundrum at centre half where he will decide whether to stick with youngsters James Tomkins and Winston Reid, or introduce Abdoulaye Faye for a little added steel and experience.
Enjoy the game - and stay safe.
Danger man: Darius Henderson. Signed on a free during the summer, the 30-year-old striker maintained a 'one in three' goalscoring record for some six years in the Championship whilst with Watford and Sheffield United. With two from six games so far this season, he looks set to continue that respectable record.
Referee: Lee Mason. His first appointment with West Ham this season although he officiated on three occasions last term; the 1-1 draw at Stoke, the 4-2 home defeat against Man Utd and, most notably, the 3-3 Scott Parker-inspired draw at West Brom. The other officials on duty are Ceri Richards and Simon Bennett (linos) and fourth official Gavin Ward.
Look out for: People trying to tell your fortune or sell you heather. If you must buy the heather make sure it comes from a sustainable source and on no account agree to have your drive tarmaced.
Last meeting: West Ham Utd 3 Millwall 1 AET (Stanislas 2, Hines) - 25th August 2009.
Head to Head: (Football League only) West Ham 9; Millwall 5; Draws 10.
Leading goalscorers: Cole (West Ham) 4; Nolan (West Ham) 2, Henderson (Millwall) 2, Trotter (Millwall) 2, Bouazza (Millwall) 2.
Latest odds: here.
Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.
01:28PM 15th Sep 2011
''"People trying to tell your fortune or sell you heather. If you must buy the heather make sure it comes from a sustainable source and on no account agree to have your drive tarmaced."
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