Millwall not scabs shock

BBC Radio 5 Live presenter and Millwall fan Danny Baker swapping shirts with Hollywood star and West Ham United supporter Ray Winstone

Prior to the two clubs meeting at The Den back in September 2011, Transpontine discussed the Millwall and West Ham rivalry and asked whether its origins in the 1926 General Strike is based on reality of fiction.

Millwall are playing at home to West Ham on Saturday in case you didn't know, and the police have promised a massive operation across South London to deal with it. Let's just say there's a bit of a history between the two clubs, and when they last met in 2009 there was some pretty heavy fighting.

One oft-repeated bit of football folklore is that this rivalry dates back to the 1926 General Strike. Here's what the Daily Mail said:

'Millwall, formed in 1885 by dockers and shipbuilders on the Isle of Dogs gained support in the surrounding areas and were then the best team outside the FA, nicknamed the 'Lions of the South'... Tensions reached their peak in the 1920s when Thames Ironworks moved to a new home and adopted the name West Ham United. As Millwall struggled, West Ham's star was rising. Fighting broke out during the 1926 general strike when the West Ham dockers were on strike while Millwall carried on working' (26 August 2009).

Or The Telegraph (28 August 2009): 'To the north you had the workforce of the Royal docks (drenched in the claret-and-blue of West Ham) and to the south, the Millwall, London and Surrey docks (Millwall 'til they died). When the Millwall shipyard broke the 1926 dockers' strike, the outrage over the water raised tensions to tipping point'.

This gets endlessly repeated across wikipedia etc. But is it true? By 1926 Millwall had been based in New Cross for 16 years, having moved from the Isle of Dogs in 1910. Doubtless Millwall had many supporters employed in the docks on the South of the River and presumably some still working across the Thames on the Isle of Dogs. But during the 1926 General Strike, the dockers across London seem to have been solid. Looking through quite a few books on the matter, I can find no mention of South London or Isle of Dogs dockers being strikebreakers.

On the contrary, at Surrey Docks only seven people turned up to work out of 2,000 on the first day of the strike. A mass picket at the gates of the Dock kept it effectively closed, and even the Port of London Authority clerical staff walked out - their first ever strike. The only attempts at strike breaking involved the use of students and naval ratings to unload ships. There were clashes between police and strikers in Tooley Street as these strikebreakers were brought in to Hays's Wharf (source: Nine Days in May: The General Strike in Southwark, Past Tense Publicaitons). But none of this involved dockers, Millwall supporters or otherwise, in strike breaking.

I am afraid the myth of the Millwall scabs seems to be a vicious slur on the South London proletariat! This will no doubt come as a relief to the team's most well known supporter today: Bob Crow of the rail workers' union.

[update 18 September 2011: this myth got yet another airing yesterday on the BBC's Football League Show with the presenter saying that in 1926 there were 'differences of opinions between the rival docks about whether or not to support the General Strike' and some interviewed West Ham fans repeating a similar line. Apart from anything else it is not true that there were rival docks in 1926 - all the main docks on both sides of the river including East India, West India, Millwall, Surrey and Royal Albert were taken under the single management of the Port of London Authority in 1909]

From Transpontine, written Friday, September 16, 2011.

Posted By

Jan 10 2012 21:17


Attached files


Dec 16 2016 17:14
Chilli Sauce wrote:
You may mean someone should keep quiet while they learn the ropes here.

No. What I meant is that you shouldn't be a dick and that making sweeping, preachy posts about whatever caricature you've created in your head about flirtini-drinking, secret London-anarcho toffs will probably not be well-received.

Anyway, just for the record, the first thing I replied to wasn't what you said about politicos, but about what is, in my opinion, pretty lazy use of the term "middle class". It's a term that, if we're going to use as communists, we need to be very clear what we mean by it as its accepted usage obscures far more than it explains. Although that's a trap you seem to fall quite happily into.

Also, just for the lolz:

I'm talking about people who often have the term "working class" on their lips, without having a clue about, or much interest in, the actual history of the working class in connection with the city that they live in

"real working class"

Oh fuck off. I just read your last bit where you use the dimwit bullyboy language of "lolz" - and where you think you're making a point by juxtaposing two quotes from me but you actually fall flat on your smug face - and your first sentence where you call me a dick. I don't care what cunts like you think. But who knows, eh, maybe if there's one reader here who finds something useful in what I posted, then your shitty little scene that only talks to itself might go down in numbers from 19 to 18. Which would be in the right direction. You may want to stay in libertarian communist idiocy until you drop dead; others might have more sense.

Chilli Sauce
Dec 16 2016 20:34

Woodgrain, changing the word, one libcom reader at a time. I'm sure your oh-so-friendly and preachy manner must work really well when talking to members of "the real working class".

Noah Fence
Dec 16 2016 22:12

Fight fight fight fight!

Dec 17 2016 07:48

What's wrong with Danny Baker? I enjoyed his appearance on room 101. ^^

Noah Fence
Dec 17 2016 08:37
wojtek wrote:
What's wrong with Danny Baker? I enjoyed his appearance on room 101. ^^

Have you listened to his Saturday morning show on 5 live? It's a hideous mixture of nostalgia and whimsy. Too revolting.
I don't know how old you are but this guy has been pissing me off since the late 70s. Maybe it's just a build up of irritation.
That said, he does make some excellent music shows for BBC Four, he really knows his shit when it comes to music and he truly seems to love a huge range of stuff without bias. All the same a cunt is a cunt and he is a one of such magnitude that the full force of the Iron's hooligan element should be unleashed on him without hesitation or delay!