Needless to say I don't like Millwall. In fact I even penned something about why I hate them back in February 2008, you can read that here.
There are a few games that mean more in isolation than the three points (or advancing in a cup competition). Local derbies are in that category. We have, over the years, changed our dislikes from Millwall to Palace. Sure when we were sharing Selhurst Park they were our nearest opposition, but history and geography dictates that Millwall are our local derby. They are the club that have fans that most of our fan base work with. We (Charlton fans living in the locality of The Valley) probably have more Millwall fans on their streets that any other.
Yes, this is OUR local derby.
As has been said in a great post by Dave we all have our own history with Millwall, but the fact remains that there will be no one there that doesn't want to win this game more than most others.
Our record against Millwall was terrible for years. Partly due to the intimidation as discussed by Dave and partly due to the fact that when we've been in the same division as them we have tended to be punching below our weight and they above their weight. That made our derby games more important to them than to us.I know that sounds snobby and a tad arrogant, but the truth sometimes hurts, and Millwall are a lower division club and we are not!
However, we find ourselves in the third division, and we have to accept that we are here on merit, and until such time as we get out of this division we have to accept that we are on more of a level playing field with Millwall than we have been for many years. It is, of course, possible that we could fail to win promotion and Millwall could achieve it. It doesn't look likely right now, but we still have a long way to go.
So, there are three points up for grabs. It would be nice to keep the run going, but for me this is all about beating the neighbours. I don't know many Millwall fans, just a couple actually, and I don't see them anymore, and, in fact, don't have their contact details, so there is no bragging rights for me, but due to the way I was brought up, and my own personal history I really, really want to win this one.
Just to clarify, I don't have any anger towards the Millwall fans. Not only would I not want to punch one, but if I saw one hurt I would offer help. I was, probably, a little less diplomatic in my youth, but I have learned to be able to switch off the animosity that I have for the duration of the game as soon as I leave the ground. I wouldn't want to be my drinking buddies on Saturday night if we lose, as I'll be terrible company, but I cannot abhor football violence. I have no problem with singing (and swearing if I'm honest - even if I choose not to) at games like this, but as well as wishing for a win and a good atmosphere, I hope that the whole event goes off without any trouble. Millwall can have as many fights as they like with West Ham and Chelsea, and chances are those other two clubs want it too, but it is not something that I want anywhere near my club, or where I go to watch football.
That out of the way, I am looking forward to a good open contest. It is very rare that derbies turn out to be a one sided game, and to be fair to them Millwall have been a good side in this division for the last season or so. I think they will come full of determination. As Dave suggests, I think it is much harder these days to intimidate football players. Just because they have nice houses and flash cars doesn't mean that they are soft. The more money these footballers earn the more demand for their job and the tougher they need to be. There was a time when that "Millwall" (the word dragged out) over and over again would intimidate both players and fans. not any more. I cannot see Nicky Bailey or Semedo being bothered by a loud chant.
I am confident of a win. I would go as far as to predict a 3-1 win. I think, due the the pressure that comes with a game that everyone really wants to win, it will not feel comfortable until the final whistle goes, but I think it will be a good Saturday night out for the Charlton fans.
Up the Addicks!