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Last Updated: Saturday, 7 May, 2005, 03:39 GMT 04:39 UK
Saints fans protest over Millward
Ian Millward
Millward said he is "devastated" by the decision to suspend him
Around 2,500 St Helens fans staged a sit-down protest about the suspension of coach Ian Millward after Friday night's win over York.

Millward was suspended on Wednesday over allegations of swearing and was not at the Challenge Cup fifth round match, which Saints won 62-0.

Sean Long scored a try in each half and finished with 22 points in total.

St Helens fans held up posters of Millward throughout the match and also chanted "sack the board".

The disciplinary process is currently on-going and St Helens say they hope to announce a decision on the matter early next week.

Comedian Jonny Vegas was among the fans who protested for over an hour after Friday night's match at St Helens' Knowsley Road ground.

He said later: "Millward is loved by the players and loved by the fans. We're all in a bit of disbelief; this can't go any further than it has done.

"People say he's truculent, but how can he be? After we lost the World Club Challenge the other year, he spent half an hour listening to my dad telling him how he was putting a ladder up to the loft."

St Helens director Eric Ashton has distanced himself from the club's decision.

Ashton, who was coach of St Helens from 1974-80, is a member of the Super League club's four-strong board but said the decision was made without his knowledge.

"I've had nothing whatsoever to do with this decision," he said. "I knew nothing about it until Bob Millward, Ian's father, rang me to ask me if I knew he'd been suspended.

"I'm only speaking for myself but I have taken terrible abuse. I don't mind that if I've had some part in it but I haven't."

Millward has had great success with Saints since joining them from Leigh in March 2000.

The Australian won the Super League Grand Final in his first season in charge and within months had also claimed the World Club Challenge and the Challenge Cup.

The 44-year-old from Wollongong steered his side to Super League glory again in 2002 and guided the club to victory in last year's Challenge Cup final against Wigan.

Millward, who is halfway through a five-year deal with Saints, is one of the game's most outspoken and colourful characters.

He has already been in trouble this season and was fined 100 for leaving his coaching area during the Challenge Cup game with Huddersfield on 3 April.

The Rugby Football League have also launched an inquiry into Millward's behaviour during an engage Super League game with the Bradford Bulls on Easter Monday.




WATCH AND LISTEN
Interview: St. Helens director Eric Ashton


Comedian Johnny Vegas joins Saints fans' protest against Ian Millward's suspension



SEE ALSO
St Helens 62-0 York
06 May 05 |  Challenge Cup
Millward suspended for swearing
06 May 05 |  St Helens
Millward tipped to weather storm
05 May 05 |  St Helens
St Helens suspend coach Millward
04 May 05 |  St Helens


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