1964 - 1966 Back to Back Promotions
following account draws from a number of sources but heavily from Lions
of the South by James Murray.....
day after relegation to the Fourth Division, Billy Gray pruned the professional staff from 29
to 14. Amongst the unlucky 15 listed were Dave Jones, Pat Terry, Joe
Haverty, Des Anderson, John McLaughlin breaking up the team built by Ron
"We must climb out of the Fourth
Division or it could be the end of the club", stated Chairman Micky Purser.
Millwall's last spell in Division Four the average home gate was 11,583, whilst the away average
was 6,022. At this time gates receipts were split, meaning they had to share
their relatively healthy home receipts in return for a meager share of
To make matters worse the Fourth for season 1964-65 was
almost totally composed of Northern and Midland teams with the only
local clubs being Aldershot and Gillingham.
Millwall had also
agreed the previous season, before they were relegated, to fall into
line with other London clubs in charging 4/- (20p) to
stand on the terraces.
the good league form, Millwall were attracting the wrong sort of
headlines and starting to have a growing reputation for Hooliganism.
Brentford on November 6th an hand grenade was hurled into the home team's penalty area after Curran
had scored the Lions equalising goal in a 2-1 win. Goalkeeper Chic
Brodie picked it up, inspected it, and then tossed it into the net. PC
Pat O'Connell removed it from the rigging, placing it in a handy bucket
of sand and took it to the nearby station where it was confirmed as
harmless dummy. Most people in the crowd were unaware of any commotion.
However the Sunday papers went to town. "Handgrenade Shames
Football", "Soccer Marches to War" were the headlines.
had progressed to the fourth round of League Cup
disposing of Oxford (A) 1-0, York (H) 4-1 and Second Division
Middlesbrough after a replay 0-0 (A) and 3-1 (H) after extra time.
were drawn away to Peterborough but were to be without Stepney who was
making his debut for England's under-23's against France at Carrow Road.
(where he kept a clean sheet). Millwall without a regular reserve keeper,
called on Brian Gambrill, an amateur keeper serving in the
donned their new blue and white pin stripped kit for the 1964/65 season
and the opening
home game saw the team slow hand clapped as they fell 2-nil behind early
on to Torquay, but the Lions fought back for a draw. The result would
become significant two and a half seasons later.
An early season
long term injury to Snowdon forced Millwall to reshuffle the
defence. With no other recognised centre-half in the small squad,
Gilchrist was moved over from full back to cover. This gave Harry Cripps
the chance to established himself after two season at the Den, where he had played
over 40 games but found himself captaining the reserves at the
Parachute Battalion in Aldershot. He had a game to forget and was
involved in 3 defensive mix ups which saw the Lions three down at the
interval and beaten Millwall lost 4-1 at full time.
were out of luck to in the FA Cup. They beat non league Wealdstone 3-1 at
the Den, but became one of non league cup giant killers Hereford scalps
in at 1-0 defeat at Edgar Street. That December saw many games fall
victim to the weather and Millwall played only once more before
Christmas, a 1-1 draw at home to Walsall thanks to a Curran goal.
the season. Cripps was now handed the captaincy of the first team and
made the number three shirt his own.
tasted success playing a long ball game with a couple of speedy of wingers,
Neil and Rowan and briefly went top of the table after 16 games
with a 2-1 win away at Bradford City
like the Beatles with Day Tripper / We Can Work It Out, Millwall
were the Christmas Number 1 and hoping they would not be coming down
with the decorations.
As was the fashion
with league fixtures Millwall were given a double header around Boxing
day. This year it was Big spending promotion rivals Hull City with
the Lions traveling to Boothferry park on the 27th and at the Den on the
with two goals from Billy
a few weeks later the wheels seemed to have came off the wagon following
a 4-0 thrashing at leaders Bradford Park Avenue. At home Millwall
remained unbeatable dispatching Halifax 5-1 and Chesterfield 4-2. Len Julians scored Millwall's only hattrick of the season
in the win over Halifax and had two other efforts ruled out. Away from
home, Millwall were struggling, and three further away defeats on the
trot at Doncaster (0-4), York (1-3) and Brighton (0-2) meant that by
Mid-January Millwall had lost six games and pick up a modest 11
points on their travels.
unbeaten home record with 9 wins and 4 draws kept them in the promotion
hunt in 6th place. At this stage Millwall's home record was overshadowed
by Tranmere who had won their first 15 home games with 55 goals for and
Stepney was beginning to make a name for himself, saving his fourth spot
kick of the season in the 2-1 win over Lincoln on the 2nd January, two
others had been previously missed.
had won through to round 3 of the FA Cup, beating Kettering and Port
Vale at the Den and were drawn away at First Division Fulham.
Things looked grim for the Lions as they fell two behind in first half
before Curran cashed in on the keepers error to make it 2-1.
the second half a Harry Cripps penalty was saved and it looked all over for
the Lions when Stratton made it 3-1 soon after. Millwall hit back
it the last half hour of the game. Whitehouse scored from 25 yards and
near the end Whitehouse was on hand to score his second after another
by Fulham keeper Macedo.
replay on the Monday drew a crowd officially logged at
greater than the game at Craven Cottage, but probably 15,000 greater as
around 5,000 fans gained free entry via a broken gate.
took the game to Fulham, who had England Stars Johnny
Haynes, Bobby Robson and George Cohen in their line up, despite a first half injury to
Harper, which in the days before substitutes left him a
passenger who was moved to centre-forward for nuisance value. Some
nuisance value he turned out to be as he latch onto a mis-hit Rowan shot
to put Millwall into the lead. With Fulham leaving themselves open in
the dying minutes in a bid to find an equaliser, Harper,
were beaten 1-0
by a 76th minute Ken Wagstaff goal in front of a bumper crowd of 40,231
at Boothferry Park, but thumped Hull 3-0 at the Den in front of
Millwall's highest crowd of the season so far of 17,184.
With Millwall and
Hull City neck and neck at the top of the table, Billy Gray decided
to changes the team around. Hugh
Curran was sold to Norwich City for £12,500. In came 20
year old Irishman Eamon Dunphy, for £8,000, who had spent just one
season at York City since his move from Man Utd. His signing was a risk
in that he was not a straight replacement for Curran, more of a midfield
playmaker, not the all action hero the Millwall crowd had come to love.
Gray had intended
to make a double swoop, but the board refused to release the £5,000
needed to sign 21 year old Rodney Marsh from Fulham.
In a bold
commercial experiment Millwall's fixture at Workington (up in Cumbria
near Carlisle) on Friday 28th January, the game was broadcasted
back to the Den via close circuit Television on four giant screens.
Stand seats cost 12
Shillings each, the game
was introduced by Danny Blanchflower, followed by a short film of
Millwall training back at Cold Blow Lane, then live interviews with the
managers and finally the match itself commentated by broadcaster Peter
Lloyd with Ken Jones of the Daily Mirror.
The event was
fronted by DJ Pete Murray, a director of Sportscast Television, whose
proposed the idea. The crowd at Borough Park was 4,323 while
9,134 watched at The Den and cheered their side as if the match was
being played there. The game ended goal-less and the only hitch
throughout had been problems with Workington players who demanded and
got a television fee.
Director Bill Nelan
was so overcome by the spectacle he told the board that all Millwall's
away games should be covered the same way.
Despite the change
in personnel, Millwall went on an eleven game unbeaten run the final
game of the run being an extraordinary game at Scunthrope in
March. In a ding dong game, Millwall took the lead through a
Dunphy goal before going 2-1 down. Jones equalised for the Lions before
Scunny went 4-2 up with 20 minutes left. Billy
Neil made it 4-3 in the 76th minute and Ken Jones scored his second in
the dying seconds to earn a 4-4 draw.
|passed to Rowan
to wrap the game up and send Fulham out of the cup. There were so
many satisfied customers hundreds of fans who had gained free entry
through the broken gate sent the entrance money by post!
result was a triumph for Manager Billy Gray who plotted Fulham downfall
by allowing Cohen space to get forward as
often as possible, tightly
marking Robson on his deep runs and once they lost the ball, playing the
ball quickly into the spaces the illustrious pair left behind. The team
spent the entire week perfecting it in training and it payed off in the
the game Robson, unable to believe what had happened told reporters:
"It was thoroughbreds against donkeys." On hearing this Gray
sent a message back to Robson: "You're right, the donkeys had two
tries....and still lost!"
after the Lord Mayor's show Millwall let a 1-0 half time lead slip at
the home to Third Division Shrewsbury to go out in the Fourth round.
Out of the Cup and with inconsistent League form Millwall were slipping
down the table. Following the defeat at Promotion rivals Brighton,
Millwall suffered two home draws against Oxford and Hartlepool, with a
5-0 win at struggling Barrow sandwiched in between but found themselves
7th in the table.
(NB Hartlepool were known as Hartlepools United until 1968 then plain
Hartlepool until 1977, then Hartlepool United)
fans were becoming restless, convinced the club would miss out on
promotion, formed a demonstration after the game against Millwall's
directors who had announced that heroes Harper and Gilchrist could leave
was hardly the time to visit league leaders Tranmere, who made 18 home
wins out of 18 with a 1-0 victory. (Stockport were to end their 100%
record in the next home game and Oxford were to beat them in their final
slipped behind Hull in the race for the Championship
but had a comfortable lead over the only other club in contention for
last weekend in March Millwall were
at Loftus Road, where new signing Rodney Marsh scored his first-ever
goal for Rangers
after just three minutes and sent Q.P.R. on their way to a 6-1 victory.
The game was continually held up by celebratory pitch invasions by
Tannoy announcer was instructed to broadcast by Match officials that the
game would be abandoned if there were anymore pitch invasions. Being 6-1
down to their nearest pursuers in the promotion race it was too good an
invitation to Millwall fans who poured onto the pitch and sat down.
the police and QPR Officials at a lost of how get the game restarted,
Millwall Manager Billy Gray took the microphone and appealed to the
Millwall fans to acknowledge that Rangers were the better team on the
day, but it would be Millwall's year for promotion. It worked at the
Millwall fans returned to the Terraces and the final few minutes were
the team Coach returning from the game, Manager Billy Gray took
exception to remarks made by a director and resigned as a matter of
principle. Gray was persuaded by Chairman Purser to stay on until
promotion was assured.
news leaked out of Grays resignation it was rumoured to be only partly
true and the real reason having more to do
an earlier argument with Board over making money available to sign
players, with the Marsh saga being mentioned.
wrote in the next programme: "In the latter stages of the game I
made a broadcast appeal to try and preserve the good name of Millwall F.
C. Certain unruly elements of our supporters had encroached on the
ground after a warning had been given that the referee would stop the
game if this continued. Although some people may not
agree, I think I
improved the squad by signing two forwards Jim Ryan from Charlton
and Micky Brown from Fulham and this combined with Snowdon's return to
fitness, propelled Millwall on an unbeaten run to the end of the season
to clinch a promotion spot. Millwall won 9 and drew 6 of the 15 games
scoring 27 goals and conceding only 7.
run had been tense with several promotion rivals to play. Billy Gray
came out of his half season retirement to play at Aldershot and remained
in the team for the last four games at the request of the players to
ensure promotion was achieved.
had one game still to play after their promotion rivals had completed
their fixtures, away to Notts County on Thursday 29th April. This game
had been abandoned because of a downpour earlier in the season with
Millwall leading 2-1. A draw would see Millwall promoted at the expense
of 4th placed Tranmere, whilst a win would see Millwall go above 2nd
place York with superior goal average. Brighton had finished as
Champions on 63 points, 1 point beyond Millwall reach at this stage.
team did not disappoint the 2,000 traveling fans and won 2-1 to secure
the runners up spot and promotion to Division Three.
was top scorer with 18 League and 1 Cup goals ahead
did right, because if games are going to be abandoned
due to the behaviour of supporters then we might as well pack up
began to look tight with QPR winning the their next two games 4-1,
whilst Millwall won at home to Brentford and drew away at Bournemouth.
That left QPR Seven points behind with Four games in hand.
Millwall maintained their nerve and in results throughout April won Five
and drew Two of their Eight games, whilst QPR won Two, drew Two and lost
Three of their Eight games. However trouble seemed to be following
Millwall around, smoke bombs were thrown at Cold Blow Lane during the Brentford game and at Oxford fighting broke out within the
the Table Millwall were One point behind Hull but had played One more
game and Eleven Points clear of QPR who had Seven games to play compared
to Millwall Three. That meant Promotion was in our own hands, with three
points needed due to our superior goal average.
4-1 victory over Walsall at Fellows Park saw Millwall promoted 12 Points
clear of faltering QPR who had lost at Grimsby. However Hull were
still matching Millwall's results to stay One point clear.
Hull only drew their game in hand at Bournemouth there seemed to be a
chance of a Championship Trophy, but Gray stuck to his principles and
departed now promotion had been won. The players had written to the
board asking them to reconcile their differences with Gray, but the
board did nothing to talk him out of it, and he became Manager of
|of Len Julians
who notched 15 League and 1 Cup goals. Alex Stepney kept up his remarkable
run in goal with his second ever present league season on the trot.
Millwall's average home gate had dropped to 9,178 from 11,583 compared
to their previous Fourth Division campaign and 10,443 from the
Gray did not splash
out in the close season, deciding to stand by the team that achieved
promotion, although there were two additions. George Jacks, a forward
signed from QPR and Bill Dodgin from Fulham brought in mainly as a coach
but also as reinforcement to the defence.
the season with a 2-0 win at home to Workington, with Jacks becoming the
first Millwall player to appear as a substitute, coming on in place of
the injured Jones.
were looking the part at the higher standard keeping five clean sheets
in the first six games. Alex Stepney was outstanding and attracting the
attention of the top clubs and the England Manager, Gilchrist restored
to the formidable defence with Cripps, Snowdon and Wilson.
appointed former Orient manager Benny Fenton, a former Lions player. His
first game in charge saw Millwall win 2-0 against Mansfield to go back
to the top of Division on Goal Average. Hull then won 2-1 the next day
at home to Peterborough and secured the Championship with another home
win, 1-0, against Southend before Millwall played their final fixture
away to Grimsby, now meaningless, which they lost 2-0.
The final fixture
saw Stepney rested and Gambrill given another chance, within days one of
his host of first Division admirers came in for him and Stepney was off to
Chelsea for a record fee of £50,000. Since joining from Tooting and
Mitcham at the end of the 1962/63 Season, Alex had played in 137
consecutive League games, kept 51 clean sheets.
had the meanest defence in the division and were able to
field their strongest line up in most games, with Stepney
making 45 appearances, Gilchrist 46, Cripps 45,
Jones 43, Snowdon 43 and Wilson 44. Up front veteran striker Len Julians
appeared 45 times and top scored with 22 League and 2 Cup Goals.
Millwall's average home gate was a healthy 13,919 and they had remained
unbeaten for a second successive season at the Den.
Mansfield Players Applaud Newly promoted Millwall onto the pitch at the
Den before Millwall's final home game of the 1965-66 season.
League Tables for 1964/65 & 1965/66...Requires
Excel 97/2000 (contains Macros)