‘No One Likes Us’: Football, Identity, and Belonging in Post-Industrial London

Jensen, Ole (2023). ‘No One Likes Us’: Football, Identity, and Belonging in Post-Industrial London. The London Journal, 48(1) pp. 70–86.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/03058034.2022.2058788


This article explores the role of Millwall FC as a reference point for a working-class population feeling increasingly marginalised in the post-industrial city. The analysis is framed by, respectively, Sandra Wallman’s continuum between open and closed urban systems, developed in the 1980s, and Edward Soja’s concept of a multi-scalar view that offers an understanding of smaller geographical areas within a wider urban context. Overall, it can be argued that post-industrial dynamics, in particular the loss of industrial, inner-city employment and changes to housing stock and tenure patterns, have triggered a general move towards more open urban systems, thereby challenging the continued relevance of the open–closed continuum. With the closed system still existing in small ‘pockets’ of memories and nostalgia, Millwall fan culture represents one of few remaining closed systems, keeping alive memories of the docklands, and with Millwall support as a ‘blood tradition’, practiced across generations. But it is very much a pocket of the past. Where Millwall emerged as a club of its immediate neighbourhoods, this geographical area is now characterised by widespread gentrification and a rapidly increasing BAME population. With an increasing proportion of Millwall fans now located in Kent, Millwall FC has come to represent a last working-class bastion in South London.

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