1984/85 Previous Next
Lions Eye The Top
but goal ace Dean is out

by Brian Stater

Millwall can go top of the Third Division tomorrow.

The third-placed Lions, who face Brentford at The Den, will take over the promotion race if leaders Bristol Rovers and York slip up. But the bid for top spot will he made without leading scorer Dean Neal who will he missing for at least a fortnight.

He went off with a groin strain in Tuesday's Milk Cup clash with Chelsea. Teenage striker Teddy Sheringham - who came on against Chelsea - is likely to continue as Neal's understudy.

Manager George Graham slammed two players as “disgraceful” after the Milk cup action, yet refused to name the guilty men.

And he will stick with the same line-up, saying, “Overall I was very pleased. We played some excellent football.”

Injured midfield man Nicky Chatterton saw a Harley Street specialist this week who gave an encouraging verdict.

Chatterton's right knee is not as badly damaged as first feared and he could be back in two weeks.

But Graham says midfield partner Tony Kinsella will need another week to shrug off his ankle injury.

Millwall will bid to maintain their 100 per cent home record tomorrow in a game given extra spice by the fact that Brentford boss- Frank McLintock was a long standing team-mate of George Graham, captaining the Arsenal 'double' side in which Graham played.

Meanwhile Graham is continuing his hunt for a striker.

● Missing: Deano out for at least a fortnight
Billy the boot turns his back on the West
Bill Pierce meets a player who settled for life with the Lions.

The day Bill Roffey met JR's double was the day that almost changed his life and made him a dollar-loaded star of the American gridiron.

Instead Millwall's left-back turned tail on Texas and headed. home to choose between life with the Lions or a return to Brentford, their Third Division rivals with whom he finished last season.

Tomorrow, in place of the sunshine Superbowl style he might have picked, Roffey will get to grips again with a more familiar scenario of a London soccer derby at The Den - between Millwall and Brentford.

Big Bill, 30, a Strapping flame - haired defender who played 11 years at Orient after opening his career, in 1972 at Crystal Palace has no regrets over his decision.

But he admits: “I could have been a rich man if I'd become a goalkicker in American football like a lot of people wanted me to.”

The gridiron moguls sat up when two seasons ago they saw Stepney-born Roffey putting the full power of his 13 stone frame into long-range shooting at a soccer training camp he now part-owns in Dallas.

They reckoned he'd make an ideal kicker-not a dirty player, like it sounds-but the man who makes brief, yet significant on-field appearance to thump long-distance kicks for vital points before being hit by a mass of muscle bound tin helmeted opposition.

Roffey says: “I’ve always been able to hit a ball and although I’ve only scored only 10 League goals in my career, they've all been from around the 30-35-yard mark. I just don’t get any other kind.”

“At one stage there was queue of American football clubs after me - names like the Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys and Buffalos Bills. But the one who impressed me most were the Houston Oilers, and when our season closed last May I went to see them.”
“I met the owner in fact I was flown to see him by a private plane - and. yes, he was just like JR: Stetson, the lot. Nothing was too much for him because when the Americans, and especially Texans, get interested in you as a sportsman they give you the full treatment.”

"It was hard to, resist and I actually got as far as signing a lucrative contract. I could have put up with the occasional crunching from a bunch of 20st. bruisers because the money involved was staggering, well, into six figures.


"Then I began to have second thoughts. After all, the contract meant nothing if you didn't actually make the team. You could be out on your ear just like that, and when I went to a place called San Angelo for the Oilers' pre-season training camp there were at least three or four other kickers trying out. ”

With his wife expecting their first child Roffey decided to return home.

Roffey says. “I expected to be at Brentford again and so did manager Frank McLintock then George Graham came in with a two year offer from Millwall. I know my decision upset Frank, and I am still a little sad about it because Brentford are potentially a great club and they have always treated me well. With somebody like Frank in charge I'll be surprised if they don't start to going places.”

Brentford hope to field an unchanged side, their only doubt being right-back Bobby Fisher who limped off during Tuesday's Milk Cup tie with Leicester.

Teenager Tony Lynch stands by. Meanwhile, Millwall face tomorrow's game almost certainly without top scorer Dean Neal, who suffered a groin injury in Wednesday’s Milk Cup-tie against Chelsea.

Neal is named in the squad along with Teddy Sheringham his substitute, but manager Graham may decide to play central defender Lindsay Smith up front with Alan McLeary standing by to provide defensive cover.

● Bill Roffey: Still kicking the round ball

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