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Roeder deflects Johnson flak

Filed: Wednesday, 16th October 2002
By: Graeme Howlett

Glenn Roeder has spoken out to quell unhappiness amongst some Hammers supporters over teenage defender Glen Johnson's loan move to first division Millwall, after the club confirmed the deal earlier this evening.

West Ham's website confirmed tonight KUMB's earlier story suggesting that a loan deal was on the cards, although the news has caused some dissatisfaction amongst Hammers fans, who still contest a bitter rivalry with the South London based club.

Roeder, speaking swiftly to counter claims of another blunder told whufc.com tonight:

"We think it is a good idea to blood Glen in the football league at the highest possible level to see how he copes. I'm very comfortable with the manager he is going to, and the coach, Ray Harford who is over there. They both have excellent reputations.

"With two London clubs we know there is rivalry - but surely the only thing that matters is Glen Johnson's football career."

But that, it seems, is precisely why an element of Hammers fans suggest the move will only serve to have an adverse affect on young Johnson. Millwall's longstanding rivalry with West Ham is bound to lead to some resentment when Johnson lines up in Millwall colours, and some fear that he may be hounded out of the club, consequently shattering his confidence - a claim apparently backed up by some Millwall fans on website message boards tonight.

Comments on one unnamed Millwall site ranged from 'there's no way I would cheer a f*cking Hammer, we don't want scum here' to 'Millwall should never sign anyone connected to west scum' (a clever play on words there), whilst another warned 'I just hope he doesn't play sh*t because he will be in for a rough ride', notwithstanding an unequivocal 'shoot him'. Pleasant stuff indeed.

The club website's story revealing the news even went so far as to claim that Hammers followers who maintained a mutual dislike of Millwall were 'less well informed fans who grumbled about a deal between the two clubs on account of their perceived rivalry'. A rivalry that has continued for some considerable time longer than the opinion of one club employed reporter, who, one would suggest, would do well to consider keeping his personal opinion to himself before criticising the very people who pay his wages...

That East/South London rivalry stretches back for over 80 years, and stems from the old India, Surrey and Royal Docks which employed much of the local working class community from both sides of the Thames both before and after the Second World War. West Ham and Millwall supporters have clashed many times since the first skirmishes were reported early on in the 20th century, and despite the clubs having not met for several years an element of supporters still maintain those longstanding rivalries.

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