The Times has published a list of what it describes as the ‘50 Worst Famous Football Fans‘. From those celebrity fans who have drowned near fortunes into their beloved club – Elton John at Watford, Delia Smith at Norwich (“let’s be having you…!”) – to those that you just wouldn’t want – Timmy Mallet at Oxford United, Michael Jackson at Exeter City – the list is an entertaining and highly amusing read.
What caught my eye the most was the inclusion of what must surely be my beloved Millwall’s most famous and most unlikely ‘fan’. Whilst I’ve always been aware that Millwall has had ‘celebrity’ fans – from the glorious Des O’Connor through less than glorious Danny Baker to the imminently glorious, David ‘The Hayemaker’ Haye – the list stated that Bermondsey’s finest was most recently being courted by none other than Morrissey. At number 48 on the list, The Times wrote:
Maladjusted, miserable former lead singer of The Smiths who has started swanning about Los Angeles in a Millwall top. Viva Hate.
Somehow I seemed to have missed this story completely when it first broke. Back in October, The Telegraph ran the following:
Times are about to change. After being spotted swanking around Los Angeles in a Millwall shirt with “Mobster” printed on the back, Manchester’s greatest musical miserablist, Morrissey, has let it be known to club officials that he would like to attend the next home game, against Leeds. While not previously regarded as a club that might have much to offer the patron saint of introspection, some of the singer’s solo output would suggest he has been auditioning for his enrolment as a member of F Troop for some time.
Surely Viva Hate, Maladjusted or Ringleader of the Tormentors would make ideal tunes to soundtrack the entrance of the Lions. Though it appears the singer’s most famous number – Bigmouth Strikes Again – has already been appropriated by the club’s only other well-known supporter: Danny Baker.
It was though ‘Jigsaw’ in The Sun that scooped the news first, quoting Millwall’s assistant-manager in the process:
There’s panic on the streets of Bermondsey – after it was revealed that Morrissey has become a Millwall fan.
The former flower-throwing frontman of The Smiths wears a Lions shirt printed with the No 9 and Mobster printed on the back.
And he even asked the League one club if he could play for them on their pre-season tour of Ireland.
The Suedehead crooner is close pals with Lions assistant-boss Joe Gallen, who revealed:
“Morrissey is obsessed with Millwall and its culture. We’ve been mates for a few years and he’s always e-mailing me to see what’s going on at the club. He kept badgering me to ask if he could play 10 minutes for us in our pre-season friendly against Shelbourne. He was deadly serious and desperate to play – but we couldn’t do it. So instead I sent him a shirt with No 9 and Mobster on the back and he loves it. When I went to see him perform in Dublin he wore it to the after party. He hasn’t been to see a game at The Den yet – but he says he is going to try and get over for the Leeds game in a few weeks”
Despite the suggestion that he was going to attend the Millwall Leeds match a few weeks ago, it appears that Steven Patrick declined to attend. Nonetheless, this didn’t stop The Times reporter after the match using a Morrissey analogy to heap praise on the performance of Millwall legend Neil Harris’ sparkling performance in the Lions 3-1 victory:
Two years ago, Morrissey recorded a solo album entitled Ringleader of the Tormentors and, when [Neil] Harris eventually retires, never has a name been more apt to commemorate one of Millwall’s greatest players.
Millwall is not Morrissey’s first foray into English football though. Around the time of the release of his second solo studio album ‘Kill Uncle’, Morrissey was seen kicking a football around in various photo shoots. And then on ‘Maladjusted’ he included the homo-erotic tribute to former Manchester United midfielder Roy Keane (‘Roy’s Keen’).
But possibly more fitting for the image and reputation of Millwall is his track ‘We’ll Let You Know’ from the album ‘Your Arsenal’. In what amounts to little more than a eulogy to a lost Britain – a Britain of Empire and conquest – Morrissey uses the analogy of football hooligans to intone:
We’ve stayed alive ’till now, We’ll let you know, We’ll let you know
But only if – you’re really interested
We’re all smiles. Then, honest, I swear, it’s the turnstiles that make us hostile
Oh…We will descend on anyone unable to defend themselves
Oh…And the songs we sing they’re not supposed to mean a thing la, la, la, la …
We may seem cold, or we may even be the most depressing people you’ve ever known
At heart, what’s left, we sadly know
That we are the last truly British people you’ll ever know, we are the last truly British people you will ever know
Given Morrissey’s penchant for the criminal underbelly of society, his numerous laments on a slowly dying Britain, and – if some are to believed – his interest in the far-right and its associated ideologies, the attraction of Millwall does not come as a complete surprise. For him, Millwall must represent a tradition that is being lost in Britain: one that he voiced many times during his time with what might be the finest British band ever, The Smiths. Morrissey – despite living in the swanky un-British environ of Los Angeles – continues to cling to a nostalgic notion of what made Britain – and the British – great.
Yet because I truly believe that Millwall, Bermondsey and Morrissey are all in their own way unquestionably great, it would be hard for me to oppose the arrival of our latest celebrity fan.
Whether for Millwall, Morrissey or myself, altogether now:
“No-one likes us, no-one likes us, no-one likes us but we don’t care…”
Everything on this site by Chris Allen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 UK: England & Wales License. www.chris-allen.co.uk.