boardroom of Reg Burr's West End office is dominated by a drawing of
that classic comedy duo Laurel and Hardy with their famous "another
fine mess you've got me into" catchphrase underneath.
much-maligned Millwall chairman must have cast a few rueful glances at
that picture last season as the Lions slid down the Second Division,
attendance's slumped disastrously and the debts piled up.
Burr has never been one to runaway from fight, and just 12 months after
he helped wrestle the club back from the brink of oblivion he is ready
to launch an all-out assault on the First Division.
are times in football when you have got to be patient, when you have got
to sit back and take all the abuse," explained the 63-year old
investment consultant who spent much of last season writing polite
replies to some highly critical letters.
can understand the frustrations of the fans. Over the last 40 years or
so they have consistently had to put up with a team that hasn't been as
good as they deserved.
I think a lot of the supporters don't appreciate how close we came to
going out of business last summer. If we hadn't formed the new
consortium and dealt with Mr. Thorne there wouldn't have been football of
any sort at the Den."
the time we took over, the club had already lost John Fashanu and Anton
Otulakowski and people like Steve Lowndes, Steve Lovell and Robert Wilson
didn't want to play for us anymore. Unfortunately most of the decent,
players who had become available during the summer had already
fixed themselves up elsewhere - and it was virtually impossible to sign
John Docherty was forced to work with a paper thin first team squad and
the Millwall board resigned themselves to a season of consolidation and
plenty of abuse from those success-starved Den fans.
felt that the most important thing was to consolidate our Second
Division position, although by Christmas I thought we might have a
chance of getting into the play-offs. At that time we started trying to
sign players again, but although we agreed terms with several people,
for one reason or another the deals all fell through. I still we might
have made it into the play-offs if we hadn't lost Danis Salman and Les
Briley for, nine weeks through injury. "
of the promotion play-offs, Millwall found
themselves scraping to preserve their Second
Division status, and Burr and Docherty bore
the brunt of the fans frustrations.
Millwall chief isn't interested in mudslinging, but it clearly upsets
him that he and Docherty
are painted as the villains of the piece, while
his predecessor Thorne and George Graham
are regarded as heroes by the Den fans.
Graham he will only say, "George did well for Millwall,
he got them up half a division every season, but I don't
think he was really dedicated to
the club, he was only interested in building up his
own reputation as a manager.
Millwall chairman is anxious to clear up one popular
misconception though - that the money for
the club's bold summer spending spree has come from that £2.7
million deal with the Asda Superstore chain.
to most reports the money from the sale of the old glassworks site
adjacent to the Den went straight into Thorne's bank account -
the money for Millwall's signings has come out of the directors
pockets with Mr. Burr digging deeper than most.
lost money consistently last season and the board felt that if the same
thing happened this time there would he no real future for