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Last Updated: Saturday, 22 May, 2004, 17:47 GMT 18:47 UK
Millwall's big day out
By Andy McKenzie
BBC Sport at the Millennium Stadium

Millwall fans enjoyed their day out - despite defeat
Some might say the sight of Millwall fans on their feet, chests out and with both arms spread wide, as they taunt their opposition is a familiar one.

But this time, it was all in good faith as the Lions fans used their moment in the spotlight to show the world their good side.

The team that nobody likes even found some unusual allies as the neutral tuned in hoping to see Dennis slay Goliath.

Millwall arrived at the 2004 FA Cup final in determined mood. Determined to show they were worthy of their place on the top table with Manchester United, but also determined to make it a day to remember.

Lions chairman Theo Paphitis vowed to have a great day no matter what the result.

And it was not because of the 1m cheque on offer to the runners-up, but about ending 119 years of hurt as Millwall made it to their first FA Cup final.

The 123rd final of football's oldest competition saw Millwall take up the role as possibly the competition's biggest ever underdogs, but quietly confident of ensuring it would not be a walk in the park for United.

With their ever-competitive player-manager Dennis Wise back in the side after injury it was never going to be a stroll for United.

And they did not have it all their own way as Millwall had appeals for a penalty and Tim Howard twice came to the rescue to prevent Paul Ifill scoring in a competitive first half.

But in the end the game followed the script with United comfortable 3-0 winners.

United's superiority in all departments eventually shone through as brightly as the sun at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, which once again played the perfect host in what is likely to be its penultimate FA Cup final.

But while Millwall's players may have come away second best, their supporters were determined to prove to be a match off it.

The second goal led to United fans taunts of "you're not singing any more", but in truth it would have taken considerably more than a few goals to dampen this all-singing, all-shouting, flag-waving party.

The fans did us proud, we just hoped we could have done the same for them
Millwall striker Neil Harris

With quarter of an hour to go, the game was over as a contest and the celebrations kicked off with United giving reserve keeper Roy Carroll a surprise run out.

Even then Millwall had an answer, bringing on 17-year-old Curtis Weston to replace Wise as he became the youngest ever player to appear in cup final.

It became the cup final where both sides went away feeling like winners.

Their medal might say runners-up but Millwall's memories will be no less special.

The Lions can look forward to European football for the first time next season and there is also the prospect of Paphitis fulfilling his promise to streak through the streets to celebrate their achievements.

Millwall will next week go back to being the team that nobody likes.

But they won't care - they have been to an FA Cup final and loved every minute of it.





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