I’D like to take you back a week-and-a-half to Match Of The Day’s FA Cup fourth-round highlights show. The last of 27 ties shown that night was the 0-0 draw between Walsall and Millwall.
After the MOTD editors had somehow managed to extract 22 seconds of highlights from a game which had none, presenter Gabby Logan said: “If you’re a Walsall or a Millwall fan, someone had to be last. It’s nothing personal, OK?”
Last night’s final match: Millwall 2 Walsall 1. Reporter: Dan Walker.
The camera can, of course, sometimes lie. But I think we had a television first at last night’s FA Cup third-round replay between Millwall and Walsall. In all the highlights clips that have been shown on TV so far, I’ve not seen a single fan.
There’s Ben May giving Millwall a 15th-minute lead, with a bank of empty seats behind the goal. I can hear a crowd noise, but I can’t see who is producing it.
And there’s Gary Alexander adding a second goal for Millwall at the other end of the New Den, early in the second half, once more against the backdrop of empty seats.
Oh look. Now here come Walsall, pumping the ball forward in the move that led to Alex Nicholls pulling a goal back. And there’s no one in the seats down the side of the pitch either. And yet I can still hear crowd noise.
Did any fans actually go to this game? Apparently, the attendance was 4,645. I demand some evidence.
I’ll finish with a spooky double statistic. The last time Millwall got to the fourth round of the FA Cup was in 2004 – and they went all the way to the final. And that year, they also beat Walsall 2-1 at the New Den in the third round.
Could that be an omen? No, because they’ll lose at Coventry in round four this time. (Mind you, I did write in this blog a couple of weeks ago that Bury had no chance of beating Norwich, so don’t come to me for your lottery numbers.)
1. Derby: 6
2=. Fulham: 5 (Gubba difference: +1)
2=. Reading: 5 (GD: +1)
2=. Wigan: 5 (GD: +1)
5. Birmingham: 4 (GD: 0)
6. Bolton: 3 (GD: +1)
7=. Aston Villa: 3 (GD: 0)
7=. West Ham: 3 (GD: 0)
9. Gubba: 2
10=. Chelsea: 2 (GD: 0)
10=. Sunderland: 2 (GD: 0)
10=. Millwall: 2 (GD: 0)
10=. Walsall: 2 (GD: 0)
14=. Everton: 1
14=. Middlesbrough: 1
14=. Newcastle: 1
14=. Portsmouth: 1
14=. Bury: 1
14=. Workington: 1
14=. Huddersfield: 1
14=. Grimsby: 1
(NB. Where teams are level, positions are decided by Gubba Difference; the number of times a team is on Match of the Day last with Tony Gubba commentating.)