It’s the Colour of the Shirt, Mate


When asking about the role of diversity and race inside The Den, answers were largely identical. For the duration of the match, inside the stadium, the only colour that mattered was the blue-white Millwall shirt.

Here Phil Walker shares his experience as a Millwall player – including some of the first matches when he was injured and watched how fans in the stands responded to Trevor Lee.

This very much contrasts Phil’s experience when coming up against black players on the away team:

‘I came up against Garth Crooks, and Garth Crooks was called all the names under the sun, but I was Phil. I mean, he got so much abuse, and I got ‘Phil’, come on, Phil’. Then you think to yourself, ‘well I know some of them are racist, but they cannot be all racist. On one side they call one black guy all the names under the sun, and the other black guy, they call him by first name, wanting him to do well. So in the end you get to say, are they all racist, or do they want to put you off, because you are not wearing their kind of shirt?
There were big fights, and they said “Oh, you’re a coconut, how can you be fighting your own blood”! And I say, “I don’t see it like that, they (white Millwall fans) are my friends, you are attacking them, and I am with them, what am I gonna do? Should I leave them and turn to you, just because of your colour?” […] And the same with Tiny. He lived in Peckham, Peckham was more black, and he had a lot of problems, you understand, black boys wanted to beat him up.

(Norman Garcia, Black British)