Herbert was a quiet man, untypical of most football club directors.

They were pioneers for a generation of comparatively affluent young men for whom there was no war to fight, and no National Service; who roamed from the ugly shadows of urban ghettos, where alienation from the glossy materialism of the late Sixties was a demoralising fact of life, to take their place in the glamorous, then fashionable, world of the Glory Game.

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And thus, give or take a rhetorical flourish here and there, matters still stand in 1988.

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Herbert's father had been a docker, and Millwall, the docker's football club, was for this successful Mayfair man a cause - a losing cause, but one that bound a community together because the sense of loss was shared, as much a matter of concern to Herbert as to the stevedores at the Ilderton Road End.

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During the last five years of his life, Herbert had seen Millwall, disgraced and demoralised, tread the old route between Divisions Two and Three, bleak territory rendered even more desolate by the barbed wire and spiked railings that now surrounded his beloved Den, and by the penury that threatened the Football League in general and Millwall in particular.


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This was also the corner of London that spawned Oswald Mosley, and where during its brief flirtation with electoral success the National Front polled up to 2000 votes in certain boroughs.

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The Millwall Boys found that by banding together, being uncouth, "taking over" a town centre like Oxford, pulling a communication cord or two on the way home from matches and chanting a few slogans, they could make national headlines.

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Thus a small band of aggressive young men were not intercepted at Oxford Station and sent back to where they'd come from, but rather permitted to go about their business: to seek gratification through the incitement of rage, disgust and fear in others.

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One afternoon in May this year I joined 15,000 other Millwall fans at The Den to celebrate a remarkable sporting achievement: 103 years after they set out, two years after almost ceasing to exist, the Lions made it to the First Division.

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This sane, courageous response assured that Evans, then a prospective Tory candidate, and his club, would be harassed and pilloried by football's other 91 League members, and those who chronicled the game's affairs on the back pages of newspapers.

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When the bovver boys from Birmingham, West Ham, or any other Football League club sought to prove their virility, it was to Millwall that they turned.

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Reg Burr, a city financier friend of his father's, and Brian Mitchell, a London public relations consultant, joined Jeff to form a new three-man board with working capital of £100,000.