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FA Cup: Gillingham boss Steve Lovell says notorious 1984/85 campaign with Millwall had highs as well as lows

By Craig Tucker

Gillingham boss Steve Lovell’s best FA Cup run as a player was marred by some of the worst violence ever seen in English football.

Lovell’s Millwall reached the quarter-finals in 1985 when their run was ended 1-0 by Luton at Kenilworth Road.

Lions fans rioted after the game, with the stadium wrecked and houses, cars and trains smashed up.

Gillingham boss Steve Lovell Picture: Ady Kerry
Gillingham boss Steve Lovell Picture: Ady Kerry

Then-FA chairman Bert Millichip said at the time: “The scenes at Luton were the most disgraceful I have seen – and I’ve seen a lot.”

The run may have ended on a sour note but Lovell starred in the earlier rounds as Millwall reached the last eight.

He showed what’s possible in the competition and he’d love Gillingham to go on a run this season.

They host non-league Hartlepool in the first round on Saturday, knowing it’s nearly seven years since they reached the third round, losing 3-1 to Premier League Stoke in 2012.

It’s been early exits since, including first-round replay defeats by village club Brackley in 2014 and 2017.

Lovell said: “Playing at Millwall, we got to the quarter-final against Luton years ago, that notorious night when there was a lot of trouble at the game. We lost 1-0.

“En route to that, we beat Chelsea and Leicester.

“I scored two goals at Chelsea, one against Leicester and Aston Villa and we had a good run. That was good memories of the FA Cup.

“That’s what I’m saying. To get to the quarter-final was excellent but we just want to get through round one on Saturday and see what happens after that.”

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