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Millwall 1 v 1 Queens Park Rangers
SkyBet Championship
Tuesday, 8th December 2020 Kick-off 19:45
Coming to a head - Preview
Tuesday, 8th Dec 2020 14:38 by Clive Whittingham

QPR, three defeats in a row, travel to Millwall, winless in eight, tonight, but unfortunately the football is a long way down the list of pre-match talking points.

Millwall (4-8-4, DDDDLL, 14th) v QPR (4-5-7, LDWLLL, 18th)

Mercantile Credit Trophy >>> Tuesday December 8, 2020 >>> Kick Off 19.45 >>> Weather – Cold, foggy >>> The New Den, Bermondsey

Ordinarily Millwall, winless in eight, and QPR, dire in a third straight defeat at the weekend, would probably welcome a distraction from the actual football ahead of their midweek meet at The New Den this evening. Not, however, like this.

An issue that Millwall, QPR and football in general have rather allowed themselves to sleepwalk into exploded at the weekend when a good chunk of the first 2,000 Lions supporters allowed back in the ground – by definition their most loyal, steadfast, season ticket holding fans – decided to use their first live football experience since February to boo, abuse and heckle their own players for ‘taking the knee’ in support of the Black Lives Matters movement. It demoralised their own side to such an extent they were beaten 1-0 by bottom of the table Derby, an eighth game without a win now for Gary Rowett’s men. The media coverage since has been wall to wall.

This has been coming. That it’s come first and loudest at Millwall will surprise no away fan who’s ever been there, stood in that cage being pelted by coins, seen the hand gestures being made either side of the upper tier towards people of colour among our number. But it happened too at Colchester at the weekend, and it will happen elsewhere. If it happens at Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium on Saturday it will be a low point in the history of our club, but it wouldn’t surprise me as much as it really should.

It’s been coming because the question Les Ferdinand asked about it several months ago is still to answered. Great, about time, nice gesture, pleased to hear it, but now what? What are you actually going to do? Are we going to have a Rooney rule? Are we going to have proper, substantial, punitive punishments for nations, clubs, supporters and players who commit racist offences? Are we going to have programmes to bring more black coaches through? Nobody’s said. Nobody’s come up with anything. We kneel down, which looks great for the television cameras, and the Sky commentator gets to read whatever sickly, sweet, cringey, cliched, hackneyed line he’d prepared earlier in the day about it being so much more than this or that or the other, and on we go with a sport where the England captain gets a four game ban and a lifetime of lucrative employment as a coach despite calling somebody a “fucking black cunt”, and the Leeds goalkeeper walks straight back into the team as captain in a Black Lives Matters t-shirt after a ban for racially abusing a black Charlton player, and Bulgaria get fined the cost of a match programme for disrupting international games with monkey chants. Nothing changes, nothing is done, the kneeling goes on so the sport can feel better about itself, and people start to get irritated and feel they’re being hectored to.

It's been coming because as it has been allowed to drag on, so other causes and factions have latched on. Britain First, Tommy Robinson on one side, defund the police types on the other. A Black Lives Matters political party has been registered, with wider aims and ideals than the simple clue’s-in-the-name original title. There have been running battles with the police in central London during a global pandemic involving both the far right and the far left. The original aim and message from the footballers has been lost among all this bile. They’re sick of there still being incidents of bananas being thrown, or racist abuse hurled, at football games in 2020. They’re sick of the comments on their social media platforms filling up with vile racist language and insults. They’re sick of the monkey chants at England away games, and the pitiful punishments handed out. They’re sick of inaction over incidents such as that QPR’s U18s suffered on a tour of Spain last year. They’re sick of the different way The Daily Mail covers the story if a house is bought or a girl gets pregnant depending on if it’s Raheem Sterling or Phil Foden doing the buying or shagging. They’re sick of mediocre white men walking into one managerial role or coaching job after another, often after multiple failures, often playing football nobody wants to watch, while Chris Hughton, Darren Moore and Keith Curle stand alone as black managers among 91 Football League clubs. They’re sick of being ruled over by dinosaurs like Greg Clarke. That’s what they’re sick of. They’re not Marxists, they don’t want to end the white race, they don’t want to defund the police, they don’t want to tear down statues and deface monuments. But they’re booed as if they are regardless. Millwall’s Mahlon Romeo on Saturday’s events is a heartbreaking must read. Can anybody read that and think he deserves to be booed for taking a knee? Apparently so.

It’s been coming because that’s where we are, in this country and in the US. Everything is one thing or the other, this or that, black or white if you’ll excuse me that. You’re either Brexit or remain. You’re either Trump or AOC. You’re either Corbyn or you want to close all the hospitals and let poor people starve in the street. You’re right or you’re left. You’re in or you’re out. And once you’ve picked a side, it’s time to start entrenching. Once you’re on that side that side can do no wrong. Everything the other side does is evil, everything your side does is pure, and everything is to be framed in that context – every incident, every debate. There is to be no surrender, no giving up of ground, no admission of guilt, no apology, no resignation, no sacking. Nothing. In that climate it’s not possible to be a footballer kneeling because he’s a bit sick of scummy teenagers telling him to “go pick cotton” on his Instagram account, or tired of seeing team mates of different colours but similar ability afforded post-career opportunities that don’t present themselves in the same way. If you’re kneeling you’re a Marxist, you hate white people, you hate this country, you hate Winston Churchill, and you must be booed. People are either too dense to see an in between, or they just don’t care to bother.

Nuance is dead, and QPR have attempted to take a nuanced position regardless. They knelt, to begin with, and then they stopped, and when called on it by a multi-national, billion dollar broadcasting company without a single black face on its entire executive or management board, they turned round and rightly pointed out that while everybody else is kneeling and doing nothing, they’re employing more black coaches and execs than the rest of the EFL put together, have had more black managers in the last five years than most other clubs in this country have had in their history. Actions over words and gestures thank you very much indeed. They were right to do it. But by taking the position they have in this climate, they’ve allowed some of the groups outlined above to latch onto them as a cause célèbre. The Millwall Supporters Trust’s horribly cack-handed “we’re not being racist honest guv” statement at the weekend even mentioned Les Ferdinand’s comments earlier in the season. The people booing at that match are as far away from what Les Ferdinand thinks and believes about this as it's possible to be, but we left ourselves open to them latching onto us and now here they all are making themselves comfortable at our table and saying they align with us, just as we’ve got a live televised game at Millwall wouldn’t you just know it.

So now what? Millwall have perhaps been lucky that doors have been closed on football grounds, and that only 2,000 people were allowed in at the weekend, or this could have blown up on them a lot bigger and sooner. QPR, meanwhile, have been fortunate themselves that after an initial blast of highly unfair media coverage post Coventry away, nobody has really picked up on half the team kneeling while the other half does not. That Bright Osayi-Samuel is currently sulking around with a face like a smacked arse, refusing to join in goal celebrations, while the captain of the club is posting Trump voter fraud conspiracies on his social media. Perhaps unrelated, but I'm surprised some tabloid hack somewhere hasn't at least taken a swing at it. Well, neither can dodge it any longer. It’s lights camera action tonight. Oh to be the press officers on either side trying to sort this colossal mess out, with some weird fudge planned where the players are going to hold hands and wave a bit of a flag around rather than kneel, except the ones that are still going to kneel.

A horrible, bleak, messy end to a horrible, bleak, messy year. And for it all, still no plan. Still no action. Still nobody saying this is what needs to be done, and this is how we’re going to do it. If this week’s proved anything it’s that this is needed more urgently now than at perhaps any other point in the last 30 years.

Profoundly, profoundly depressing.

Links >>> Who needs Sol Campbell – History >>> Another newbie – Referee

Tuesday

Team News: Mark Warburton must survey what few options he has available for change with the games coming, cliché klaxon, thick and fast, and Saturday’s tired effort at Huddersfield barely enough to fight our way out of a wet paper bag.

Millwall were without Scott Malone at the weekend for the defeat to Derby as he is on loan from the Rams, but he can return tonight with Tom Bradshaw also back in contention. Big summer signing Kenneth Zohore is a medium term absentee with Mason Bennett doubtful and Conor Mahoney out.

Elsewhere:
Tuesday
Coventry v Luton
Huddersfield v Sheff Wed
Stoke v Cardiff
Swansea v Bournemouth
Watford v Rotherham
Wednesday
Preston v Boro
Barnsley v Wycombe
Brentford v Derby
Bristol City v Blackburn
Norwich v Forest
Reading 0-0 Birmingham

Referee: Another relatively new referee for a high profile Championship game – Australian A-League alum Jarred Gillett is in his second full season on the EFL list and in charge of QPR for the first time tonight. Referee.

Form

Millwall: The Lions’ strong second half to last season under Gary Rowett and eye-catching summer transfer business marked them down as a good outside play-off bet this year. Indeed, they’ve only lost four games to this point, however two of those have come in the last week and with five consecutive draws prior to that they’re actually without a win in eight matches prior to kick off tonight. The injury to Kenneth Zohore hasn’t helped – Wall haven’t scored more than two goals in a league game all season, and have scored one goal or fewer in each of their last eight with five blanks. They’ve won only two of ten home games in all competitions this year, and one of those was against Cheltenham in the League Cup.

QPR: One win from nine away games in all competitions now for Rangers after the weekend loss at Huddersfield, and four defeats from the last five road games. They come into this one on a run of three consecutive league defeats. After keeping four clean sheets in the first ten games, the leaky defence is back with no shut-outs and 12 goals conceded in the last six. They’ve shipped two goals in each of the last four games. Rangers’ 2-1 win at this ground last year was there first in seven attempts since Simon Barker and Roy Wegerle scored at The Old Den in 1990.

Prediction: We’re indebted to The Art of Football for once again agreeing to sponsor our Prediction League and provide prizes. The squad is updated and you can get involved by lodging your prediction here or sample the merch from our sponsor’s QPR collection here. We were sadly spot on with our Bristol City call – today last season’s champion Mase offers us this…

“Things looked to be turning sour on the pitch at the weekend and we could really use a good performance, but most of all a result, this evening. After a strong start, Millwall and their merry bunch of *checks notes* 'anti-Marxists' have faltered in recent matches, and will no doubt see this as a good chance to get back on track. I hope Warburton will have the squad under no illusions that a repeat of Saturday would be unacceptable, and they respond well to that challenge. Hmm.”

Mase’s Prediction: Millwall 1-1 QPR. Scorer – Chris Willock

LFW’s Prediction: Millwall 0-0 QPR. No scorer.

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Phildo added 14:58 - Dec 8
Very well written in difficult circumstances. Depressing and accurate but very well put. Thanks.

I am from diversity world leader Shepherds Bush and proud of it. I grew up with Irish parents, in London best mate West Indies parents, friends with DNA from all over the world. It was magic. But even on here sometimes I could weep. The part of the human heart that wants to make someone else 'the other' because of their skin, sexuality and increasingly politics is just a bag of sht.
3

Paddyhoops added 15:16 - Dec 8
Let's see where we are in ten years time.
I can guarantee nothing will have changed.
I hope I'm proved wrong but I pretty much doubt it!!
Brilliant piece of writing.
0

Northernr added 15:20 - Dec 8
We're in a worse place now than we were ten years ago, IMO, Paddy.
1

Wegerles_Stairs added 15:22 - Dec 8
Keith Curle is at Northampton too, Clive.
0

Northernr added 15:27 - Dec 8
He is, you're right, I shall correct. I know I'd miss somebody.
0

ngbqpr added 15:41 - Dec 8
Thanks Clive, expertly reasoned / concluded. Nuance is indeed dead just now, sadly.

The 'blimey, have you seen this, Geoff publicly supports Trump' factoid has caused much debate in our little house of Rs recently. That can't help create a positive environment.
1

E15Hoop added 15:50 - Dec 8
I had high hopes that my children's generation (my eldest daughter is 26, my youngest 16) would be the ones to effect permanent change in this arena, with all the positive changes around issues such as zero tolerance of sexual harassment, bullying and wider acknowledgement of metal health issues that I've personally seen in my workplace over the last 30 years. Living in Newham as I have been for the last 10 years, which is, I think I'm right in saying, statistically the most racially diverse region in the entire UK, I find it baffling as you were saying, Clive, that we should even still be having to give airtime to examining issues of racial discrimination. However, when I read some of the social media posts that young black and Asian students are posting on social media about the abuse they're still suffering today, I have to agree that the same issues of stupidity and hypocrisy that my generation were complaining of are being reinforced today by elements of my children's age-range. And that for me is why our players HAVE to still take the knee, even given the disillusionment that Sir Les (and for that matter Chris Ramsey, Andy Impey, Paul Furlong, Paul Hall etc.) might justifiably feel about where we are right now.

Coincidentally, I've been reading some of the stories of the first of the Windrush generation who settled in the Notting Hill slum housing as it was then, and the common thread is a quiet dignity with which they confronted their abusers. Taking the knee fits nicely into that approach, and at least if the players are unified in this approach - no matter how long for - it at least says to the fans and the authorities that they're not prepared to let this issue rest.
0

LongsufferingR added 15:53 - Dec 8
Sky must be creaming themselves at this one. Viewing figures will probably be up to around 2 million from 7:30-7:45 and then around 10,000 thereafter.
1

switchingcode added 16:08 - Dec 8
Very depressing but well written agreed with sir Les on his stance regarding taking the knee and not surprised by the events at Millwall.I think football should have stuck with the “Kick it out“movement
Darren Moore at Doncaster as well Clive
0

DavieQPR added 16:12 - Dec 8
West Ham was just the same as Millwall but the MSM protect the Premier League.
0

Philothesuperhoop added 17:53 - Dec 8
I really fear for this tonight - I can see it going pear shaped.

They are going to do this linking arms idea and then various folk will take the knee anyway...and then there will be booing. I just hope and pray that doesn’t spread into the game as I can see someone like BOS walking off if it starts happening ...and quite rightly so.

The Millwall fans are the worst and love the attention, so just shining a light on what has/will go on is making matters worse.

Fingers crossed...but stand by!
0

E15Hoop added 18:08 - Dec 8
Philo: Millwall have issued the following statement (copy the link):

https://www.standard.co.uk/sport/football/millwall-warn-fans-eyes-world-on-them-

Hopefully the psychology will play into the fans' mindset..

0

timcocking added 01:25 - Dec 9
And yet i've never met a racist person...
0

TacticalR added 12:02 - Dec 9
Thanks for your preview.

I am sceptical of the 'extremist' narrative. For example if you look at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in 2017, even though it was 'a spectacular' with the 'jews will not replace us' tiki torch march and the killing of Heather Heyer, the far right of the whole US was only able to mobilise a few hundred people. It's the 'moderates' who voted for the Iraq war, killed hundreds of thousands of people in that country, and gave us ISIS. And while everybody is focused on racist football fans it's the Home Secretary Priti Patel who is trying to deport as many asylum seekers as possible before the Brexit deadline in January.
0


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