The famous chant has been part of the repertoire of Millwall fans since the 1970s, emerging in response to negative media coverage. It also resonates with the assertion of the former Millwall chairman Reg Burr, that ‘We are a convenient coat-peg upon which football hangs all its evils’. While made in 1993, it can be argued that this is still the assertion underlying prevailing popular opinion and media discourse.
But being rough and tough is also part of an image that is held high, as expressed in the knuckle duster quote. So perhaps it is also ‘No one likes us – and that’s how we like it’?
‘I think a lot of it is pride in who you are and where you come from. I know the, because of the reputation of the club, you know, the sort of, the bad side if you like, the hooliganism, it’s always going to be there. But although all of us can see that certain ways of conducting yourself in that regard are not right, there is still a bit of macho, sort of, pride, if you like, that you are part of a club where the real tough boys are.’
(Frank Preston, White British)
‘Name Millwall, what do you say? Like you said, “Real Madrid, Barcelona”, you say, “yeah, yeah football, good football”. You said “Real Madrid, Arsenal, oh yeah, they play good football”. Man United, “win trophies”, this and that. Millwall, they say “thugs”.’
(John James, Black British)
I type Millwall into eBay and knuckle dusters come up.
(Facebook entry, November 2017)