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2009 Upton Park riot: When West Ham faced rivals Millwall in League Cup

West Ham v Millwall is probably the most fierce rivalry in British football, up there with the likes of Celtic v Rangers, Newcastle v Sunderland, Aston Villa v Birmingham, Sheffield United v Sheffield Wednesday, the list goes on.

Let’s throwback to 2009, West Ham United were playing in the Premier League and their fierce rivals Millwall were playing their football in League 1.

The match would result in what was known as the Upton Park riot.

If you don’t know much about the West Ham and Millwall rivalry, we suggest you give Green Street a watch and then you will realize what it means to fans of both sides.

Despite being two leagues apart, when the draw was announced for the League Cup 2nd round, West Ham would face Millwall in their first clash for 5 years.

The clash would take place at West Ham United’s Boleyn Ground also known as Upton Park which is just 6 miles down the road from their rivals.

upton park riot
West Ham now play at the London Stadium, Upton Park was demolished in 2017 (Image: Wikipedia)

When the cup tie was announced, trouble was inevitable.

Both sides had their own firms, West Ham’s firm was known as the ICF (Inter City Firm) which dates back to the 70s and 80s when hooliganism was rife.

Millwall on the other hand had their own firm called the Millwall Bushwackers.

Due to the anticipated trouble this game was going to bring, the Met Police cut Millwall’s number of away tickets down from 3000 to 1500 in an attempt to nullify the violence.

west ham millwall league cup
There was an appeal to find those responsible for violent behaviour

West Ham found themselves 0-1 down in the 26th minute thanks to Millwall striker Neil Harris, but 3 minutes from full-time the Hammers fired home when Junior Stanislas equalised which sparked a pitch invasion.

Ultimately, the game went into extra time where West Ham took control, scoring 2 goals to make the final score 3-1 to the Hammers.

Before West Ham got their third goal, the game was halted due to further pitch invasions which prompted the Millwall players to retreat to the dressing room.

On 28 September 2009, both West Ham and Millwall were charged by the FA with offences related to the match.

Both clubs were charged with failing to ensure that their fans refrained from violent, threatening, obscene and provocative behaviour, racist behaviour and throwing missiles, and harmful or dangerous objects onto the pitch.

West Ham were also charged with failing to ensure that their supporters did not enter the field of play.

A Millwall fan was stabbed as a result of this, but he was in a stable condition not long after, the pair met once again in 2011 and 2012 due to both playing in the Championship.

Due to the crackdown on hooliganism, the Met Police were able to take control resulting in no incidents during the games.

Is West Ham v Millwall the most fierce rivalry in the United Kingdom? Let us know!