Date: 6th June 2017 at 12:54pm
Written by:

I am not going to lambast Millwall supporters or the club like everyone else is that’s just too easy, I will never bad mouth supporters of any club in any sport that storm the pitch after full time especially at seasons end or if their team have won promotion or a title as I know full well if half a dozen City fans jumped onto the pitch, hundreds would have followed suit as is human nature. The tabloids will milk it and use sensationalism to sell papers or get views on their website as everyone has a perverse interest in all things bad and negative in the tabloids, tabloids will continue to dish it up even if there is nothing to report, we are half a week after the game and still the headlines are about “unacceptable Millwall fans”, I say move on, it’s done, how many empty statements can still be made or repeated telling us nothing in fact? I will say congratulations to the Millwall players and management team, I will say congratulations to the thousands of well behaved Millwall fans but like anywhere, it always seems to be the same “names” that get the bad press.

Stewards and sensationalism.
We have to remember stewards are volunteers and part timers and when I see some stewards at some grounds I just think “really”. One of the photos from Wembley showed a female steward tugging at a Millwall supporter’s sleeve, I was just thinking if he wanted to overpower her with excessive force, she really shouldn’t be doing that job, “equality” or not, she wouldn’t have been able to stop him and he wasn’t even a big guy, he was more like the gristle on the side of some cheap stewing steak that you try and chew but just spit out after boredom. Some of the stewards I see, I really wouldn’t want them between me and some of the supporters I have come across over the years, I know I can protect myself, but feel some of these volunteers shouldn’t be putting themselves on the front line especially if trouble really kicked off, Saturday was just more high spirits, yes they went too far, but it is far from what I have seen and literally walked through down the years. Some of the headlines I have read report a city fan was “sexually assaulted”, I’m thinking Oh My God was someone raped outside the ground or in the toilets, was someone severely groped and half her clothing ripped off? No, someone said she had verbal abuse on a sexual nature. Don’t get me wrong, that is bad, but the headline conjures the worst about the Lions supporters, but we have to remember it is acceptable to verbally sexually abuse male referees and players week in week out and that is overlooked, because no one can’t make it sound sensational and it’s acceptable to target certain groups in society, and as we know from the past with The Sun for example, stories can be made up to put someone in a bad light as I am sure any Liverpudlian will attest to and exaggerations can be easily accepted as fact. I know McCall was all talk when he said he would have lamped one or 2 of the supporters, I wish he did was my initial reaction, but then I thought immediately straight away, if he had he wouldn’t have walked out of the ground and neither would any of the City players. That would have ended up with hundreds if not thousands brawling with both clubs punished. A very scary thought indeed if he did one stupid little action especially knowing McCall is a bundle of amber and claret passion. If he genuinely felt like hitting someone, thank God he refrained himself, and I am glad to see I have not seen headlines reporting our own supporters from the weekend causing trouble or retaliating. At least next season Leeds, Cardiff and Sunderland fans can deal with them and I know some clubs won’t put up with what we had, I’m far more happier having a drink with the Pompey and Donny supporters, even the Millers.

What would I do to punish such behaviour?
If any club’s fans in mass numbers act in such an unsporting and threatening manner and bringing the game into disrepute I would take promotion away from that club and give it either to the losing finalists, or I would stop promotion of a 3rd club and reduce the relegated teams by 1. Simple solution and easy to apply, it would make a massive statement that any club’s behaviour will not be tolerated. Maybe even giving offending clubs a number of years ban from Wembley, so in this case, if Millwall got to Wembley again next year in any competition, their place would be forfeited and be given to the next highest ranking club in said competition, maybe even denying automatic promotion in the same period for very extreme behaviour, would we want such representatives in our flagship league which is broadcast worldwide representing ALL English supporters?

Did we really lose and Millwall win?
This may seem like a very strange question but I ask you, would you want to pay and watch your team winning maybe once in 10 games and getting relegated, everyone miserable and negative, or would you pay and watch a team that loses maybe once a month gunning for promotion? Hindsight is a wonderful thing and I have mentioned in an earlier article that promotion this season is maybe a season too soon. If we play next season in the Championship like we did this, we would finish bottom of the 2nd division no question, yes we would have improved the squad, but would the tactics be the same? Would the application be the same? We have forwards that can score, Jones and Wyke in particular and also we had Hiwula, but for some reason many a time we can’t get a couple of the board in a single game or kill a game off, we had 60-70% possession most games yet we couldn’t kill off a game no more than Hillary Clinton can kill off an election. This season was too soon to be promoted in my eyes and I think getting to Wembley and losing was the best possible outcome for us this season. Better than last season, McCall is still seen in a good light and this season has to be seen as a success. 2016/17 was a learning curve for the management team and chairmen, that was far more important than any short term success and brings with it a bit of a reality check.

Did McCall get it right on the day?
No! That is my honest straight forward answer. Following in Parkinson’s footsteps, McCall has got it wrong at Wembley on his first visit. When I saw Billy Clarke start I immediately thought we are playing for a draw here just as we did against Fleetwood, but he did almost prove me wrong and he did provide our best chance only to fluff it. Clarke has scored once since the middle of November and has only scored 11 goals in the last 2 seasons now, we really should not pin all our hopes on to such an ineffective goal scorer. Hiwula-Mayifuila should have started alongside Wyke, 2 proven scorers this season or better yet, Jones even though he has had a recent injury affecting his game time. I don’t like to single any player out, but I really feel Clarke’s time is up at Valley Parade and it is better for both to go their separate ways. Meredith and Marshall, I think it is crazy not to try and tie these 2 down earlier this year, both are good enough and worth a chance at a higher division, so if we had them signed up for the next couple of years, if we got promoted, we have 2 great players we can build around. Now we have lost Meredith and it isn’t sounding 100% about Marshall, our 2 best players this season. I will never ever question the commitment of the 2 M’s but if they were contracted for next season could we have got a bit more out of them? This is all debatable, but it is never good for any player going into their last game not knowing what will happen afterwards? End of the day, they could have got us promoted and we could have ditched them after all their hard work and promotion could be empty to them. We gave them and other players no future commitment. The first half I enjoyed, but the 2nd half, boy what a boring game, and it was clear we would have been happy with just plodding along and maybe take the game to penalties. There was just no urgency or any desire to put Millwall to the sword. But, rather than sounding a neg head, McCall got us to Wembley, and what a great experience it is for his management career and one to now build on and learn from.

Is the 2016/17 season a success or a flop?
Can we say we have had a great season and when the season is finally over come the end of June, when Sheffield United, Bolton and Millwall are finally promoted come the end of the season, I ask has our season been good, or even great, or has it been a disaster and we are left with a bitter taste in our mouths after our last game? Well, let’s turn the clock back, as good as a year ago we were losing Rhodes and Lawn, the dynamic duo were leaving City. The day had finally come that a Rhodes was not pulling the strings and guiding the club, that day I have been fearing the past 2 decades. They may not have had billions to splash into the club, but they ran a steady ship, kept us from sinking on more than a couple of occasions and any future success be it next year or in a hundred or thousand years time, nothing would have been possible without those 2. Gratitude should be given to Rhodes and Lawn. Now, we get some foreign arriving into Bradford, well one of them, very sceptical with any foreigners coming in and taking over, to them City is just another club as is Watford or Halifax, our culture or history they won’t relate to and feel it, they may want to earn a quick buck, or treat Valley Parade as a toy, a hobby. Their first action supported this, our most successful manager of recent times and maybe best all time manager had no public support from the incoming chairmen, rumours of Rosler was going to take charge was the worst possible nightmare, but oh Lord, it actually got worse. Parkinson had jumped ship, no one tried to stop him and in we bring our worst manager ever, Stuart McCall. That’s how disappointed I was, I actually felt betrayed and disgusted. Jesus, what could be worse? I knew some people refused to renew their tickets because of him as some supporters were that disillusioned and had no faith remembering his first time and how he handled the pressure and big time. So we have inexperienced chairmen who’s first action was to rip up our recent success and continuity, a useless manager that could only rise to be failing Scotland’s 3rd coach, a little over half a dozen players, this was a season of little to no hope. So did it play out like that? Did it heck, McCall was totally different to the manager we had all known and saw, Greg Abbott the chief scout was for me, the best signing the club had made, a good manager is only as good as the team behind him and the signings this season you can argue did McCall sign them or not? Irrespective, McCall chose the team, he convinced Marshall who flopped under Parkinson to stay and turned out to be our best player this season. So as a whole, it has been a bloomin’ brilliant season. This is the McCall we want, this is the McCall that is worthy of taking City forward. So what did Stuart bring us? Wembley and unbeaten at home in the league all season. Who’d have thought it? McCall and the players can hold their heads up high, not forgetting City paying our highest transfer fee since the days of the Premiership, well done to Rupp and Rahic for their input and first actions are now easily overlooked and it is looking like they genuinely want to help our club move forward and enjoy the ride. I just have to mention again, I was a massive McCall detractor after his first spell, and he I am glad he has proven me and thousands wrong. Let’s hope McCall is the new Parkinson and can have a successful City career as manager as he had as a player.

2017/18
I will just quickly finish off with, the 3rd division is going to be there for the taking next season, I can’t see any of the relegated teams walking away with it next season, the promoted teams I can see in the top 10, maybe even challenging for the play offs for most of the season and another thing, no Sheffield United. Realistically I can easily see half of the division capable of winning the 3rd division title next season, ourselves included, and in one respect, the division is the most open it has been for years. Some of the players we will need to get rid of like Kilgallon and Clarke and hopefully retain Marshall and McArdle. I never like it we let our best players’ contracts run down and expire, we have a very good chance of losing half a quality first team, but early signs is that McArdle wants to stay which is a massive boost. McCall is still learning as are our chairmen, and we really have to fancy ourselves for top spot in 12 months time. With McCall and players like Wyke and Jones, is it unrealistic aiming for that?

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