|At last...... There's a wind of change breezing through Cold Blow Lane|
|Cally's Farewell Blast: I Never Settled|
Millwall's ambition to reach the First Division m for the first time has taken Kevin O'Callaghan home to The Den.|
The Republic of Ireland winger launched his career there and says: "I'm delighted to be going back, even if it all came as a bit of a shock to me."
"When Alan Ball told me of Millwall's interest I felt that maybe it was time to move on. To be perfectly honest, I never settled at Portsmouth as well as I'd have liked."
"The manager made it quite clear I could stay and fight for my place but after I'd spoken to John Docherty at Millwall I knew what I wanted."
London-born O'Callaghan was only 18 when England boss Bobby Robson, then in charge at Ipswich, forked out £250,000 for him. Seven years later that's still a Portman Road record.
The switch to Suffolk catapulted him to international status and he had just succeeded in regaining his place in the Eire squad when Millwall made their move.
"Some of the Eire lads couldn't believe I was even thinking about moving into the Second Division and told me I was worth more than the £85,000 Millwall have paid for me."
"But I feel sure I've done the right thing. Millwall proved they wanted me back and if I turn out to be a bargain no one will be more delighted than me."
O'Callaghan reveals he was suffering a confidence crisis last season when Pompey finally clinched the promotion place.
"Alan Ball made it quite clear early in the season that he was only going to use one winger in away games to keep things tight," he explains. "
"I was left out several times and although I made more than 30 appearances I never really felt a part of things at Portsmouth."
"It wouldn't be natural if I didn't have some regret at missing out on the First Division. After all, that's where everyone wants to play. I've been there before with Ipswich and know I could do it again at that level."
"But I feel sure Millwall could give me that chance and I won't regret the decision to rejoin them."
Heavyweight Tony Told to Slim
Spotlight on the soccer star out to win his 'Battle of the Bulge' with Britain's great boxing hope….|
Big Frank Bruno gave heavyweight striker Tony Cascarino the fright of his football life.
Millwall new boy Tony couldn't believe his eyes when he stepped on to a pair of scales at London's Paddington Station last summer as he explains: "It was the day Frank Bruno fought Tim Witherspoon at Wembley and, when I looked at the scales, I realised I Weighed exactly the same as Frank."
"I missed the last five or six weeks of the season and couldn't do any training through the summer because of injury but I didn't realise I'd piled on so much weight."
"I eventually managed to loose most of it, although I'll admit I was carrying a few extra pounds last season."
It still didn't stop him bagging 30 goals in impressive style and eventually moving to Millwall for £225,000 where the Eire International's new boss didn't waste any time laying the law down to his new striker.
Tony continues: "Within minutes of signing, manager John Docherty told me I was overweight, not fit enough and was going to have to come in and do extra training in the summer."
"I've got to lose about a stone, which means a lot of running and eating plenty of salads - but I think it will be worth it.
To be honest I wasn't really fit enough last season and, in a way, I'm looking forward to the work because I know how much its going to benefit me."
Tony's prolific record for Gillingham in recent seasons has made him one of the most sought after strikers in the lower divisions and eyebrows were raised when he eventually decided on a move to second division Millwall.
"They came in for me last Easter before the transfer deadline and I also had the chance to join Charlton, but in the end I decided to stay at Gillingham until the end of the season to see how things went," says Tony.
"When we missed out to Swindon in the play-offs, I decided it was time to move on and I must admit I would have liked to move to the First Division. Having said that, Millwall are very ambitious and I don't see why I can't get up there with them.
They had a good defensive record last season but just didn't score enough goals. Hopefully myself and one of the other new signings, Kevin O'Callaghan, can do something about that."
It's a testimony to in-demand Tony's ability that, on the same day he signed for the 'Lions' he was also approached by Aston Villa and Ipswich.
"They came in for me after I'd signed for Millwall," says Tony. "But a move to The Den delighted me because I used to watch the club from the terraces as a youngster and a few of my friends will be keeping an eye on me next season. I'd certainly hope regularly in the Second Division will improve my chances of adding to my collection of Republic of Ireland caps.
All I've got to do is carry on scoring goals and I'mIcertainly confident of doing that."
It sounds like bad news for Second Division defenders in the season ahead…
|Lions want Lawrence|
MILLWALL manager John Docherty is poised to pull off another major transfer coup by signing striker George Lawrence from First
Docherty has agreed a fee of around £160,000 with Saints boss Chris Nichol and has had preliminary talks with the powerfully built coloured marksman.
London-born Lawrence (24), started his career as an apprentice at the Dell before joining Oxford for £45,000. The Saints bought him back for £60,000 two years later.
"We agreed a fee with Southampton for Lawrence at the beginning of last season but the lad wanted to see out his contract down there," explained Docherty.
"He is somebody I have been interested in for a long time and I am hopeful that he will agree to sign."
MILLWALL'S £365,000 close season spending spree on Kevin O'Callaghan, Tony Cascarino and Steve Wood is already paying off with a big demand for season tickets.
|Lions want Lawrence|
MILLWALL last night agreed to splash out £160,000 on Southampton's George Lawrence to complete an amazing sink-or-swim operation designed to catapult the Second Division club into football's big-time.
Tainted by a shocking reputation for hooliganism among their fans and frequently on the brink of closure in recent years, Millwall have long been regarded as the poor relations of London soccer.
But since the end of last season, their new board of directors have decided to back manager John Docherty to the tune of more than £½ Million in an attempt to bring Division One football to Cold Blow Lane for the first time in Millwall's history.
The 24-year-old Lawrence, who can play in midfield or as an out-and-out winger, has not yet agreed personal terms, but Docherty is confident the deal will be completed by the weekend.
Lawrence will be joining the club's other new summer captures Tony Cascarino, the Republic of Ireland striker who cost £225,000 from Gillingham, defender Steve Wood, signed for £80,000 from Reading, and Kevin O'Callaghan, the winger whose return to The Den from Portsmouth last- month cost £85,000.
Docherty whose massive rebuilding programme started last season February when he signed Terry Hurlock from Reading for £100,000 said last night "Its all down to the directors putting their hand in their pockets and showing they mean business".
"It is a marvellous situation for me as a manager to get this backing, but the important thing is that the club is rewarded for its efforts by the right response from the fans. "Without their support we cannot do anything. We need them to come back and show their faith in us. If that happens, there is no telling what we can achieve."
The first real sign of Millwall's new ambition came with an unsuccessful £300,000 bid for Portsmouth's prolific striker Mick Quinn in May. Docherty soon made up for that disappointment by landing other successful coups.
Key man behind the Millwall glory drive is chairman Reg Burr, the investment consultant who put together a consortium to take control of the ailing club last summer.
Burr, a former Luton Town director, says: "We are putting our money where our mouth has been and now it is up to the Supporters. I know there has been total frustration among our fans over the past 40 years. They have consistently had to put up with a team that was nowhere as good as they deserved."
Burr maintains that Millwall need average gates in excess of 8,000 from the start of the season to make their transfer market gambles pay off.
Last season the average figure fell to an alarming 3,200 as the team struggled in the bottom half of the table.
Millwall fans were disillusioned by the loss of popular players like Steve Lowndes, Anton Otulakowski and Robert Wilson soon after the departure of the club's former manager George Graham to Arsenal a year after he had taken the club into the Second Division.
At Last....there's a wind of change breezing through Cold Blow Lane
George Lawrence £160,000