‘Some Millwall fans may go along out of curiosity’

Wigan's Kris Radlinski at The Den with Millwall boss Neil Harris
Wigan's Kris Radlinski at The Den with Millwall boss Neil Harris

WIGAN may profit from Millwall’s decision to postpone their League One fixture today.

The host club of today’s clash between Warriors and Catalans were due to face Port Vale away.

But after four international call-ups, they requested for the game to be put back - leaving many Lions supporters with a free afternoon.

Bob Asprey, chairman of Millwall’s Supporters Club, reckons a few may be tempted to go along to the familiar surroundings of The Den – to watch a very unfamiliar sport.

“It works in Wigan’s favour that our game has been postponed, and you’ll probably get a few additional people going along – probably out of curiosity more than anything else,” said Asprey.

“The fact you can take beer to your seat, that is a first and that’s one of the appeals to going along!”

Asprey admitted the initial reaction among Millwall supporters to staging a Super League match was concern – but it has now changed to interest.

“When it was announced, the knee-jerk reaction by some was alarm, because there was a vision of the grass disappearing under the scrums,” he said.

“Obviously we know more about rugby union and we’ve seen what’s happened to the pitches at those clubs who have ground-shared with union outfits – Watford for example.

“But as we understand it, rugby league doesn’t punish the pitch as much, and now I think our fans are interested to see how it goes.

“Since we moved to this stadium in 1993, we were told there was the prospect of other events taking place.

“But to this day, I think there have been two, which has been a disappointment.

“So I think the fact there’s a non-football event on, fans are hoping it’s a commercial success, and also find it quite interesting.

“Rugby league is not a sport we engage with. There have been attempts to popularise the sport here, with London Broncos, and we’re mindful of the fact the Challenge Cup Final at Wembley is a big occasion each year.

I don’t think any of us identify with a rugby league club, unless you’ve got the tie there before moving down here.”

For a typical Millwall home game, many fans visit the pubs around London Bridge station before and afterwards. The train journey from there to South Bermondsey (close to The Den) are regular and take just four minutes.

“There are about 50 pubs within a five minute walk, and the area there is quite gentrified,” said Asprey. “If you find a Wetherspoons you may get some northern prices, otherwise they may find the beer quite expensive!

“The fans villiage at The Den is fine.

“The pitch is amazing, the capacity is a bit smaller than the DW – it’s about 20,000 – but it’s a nice stadium. I hope the Wigan fans enjoy it.”