Div 3: 17th W 14 D 13 L 19 Pts 55
Goals: For 64 Against 77
FA Cup : Round 2
League Cup : Round 2
Chairman: Alan Thorne
Managers: Peter Anderson (sacked) Barry Kitchener (Caretaker)
Assistants: Terry Long (Sacked),
Captain: Nicky Chatterton
Player of the Year: Dean Neal
Willie Carr (£10,000
from Wolves), Trevor Aylott
(£150,000 Barnsley), David Stride
(£25,000 Memphis - USA), Steve
Lovell (Free C Palace), Peter Wells
(Loan Southampton), Kevin Bremner
(£25,000 Colchester), Dean White
(Player swap Gillingham),
Anton Otulakowski (£30,000
Southend), Dave Cusack (£30,000
Southend), Ian Stewart (Loan QPR),
Micky Nutton (£65,000 Chelsea)
Attendance: 92,238 (aggregate)
Attendance: 4,010 (average)
Top Scorers: Dean Neal (25),
Nicky Chatterton (10)
Phil Warman (Released), Willie Carr (Released), Dean Horrix (Player Swap
Gillingham), Peter Gleasure (Loan Northampton), Trevor Aylott (£65,000
Luton), Alan West (Released)
Hope springs eternal and Millwall indeed had reasons to feel hopeful of a
successful season. The youngsters who had had won the FA Youth Cup were now
established first team players, at least those not sold before Alan Thorne had
taken over. During the previous season Millwall signed Sam Allardyce (£95,000
from Sunderland), Dean Neal (£80,000 from QPR), Bobby Shinton (£15,000 from
Newcastle) and Lawrie Madden (£10,000 from Charlton).
The optimism increased when Millwall Manager Peter Anderson signed 24
year old striker Trevor Aylott, a local Bermondsey boy, from Barnsley for a fee
to be assessed by a tribunal. Barnsley wanted £400,000, in the end the tribunal
set the fee at £150,000, a record transfer fee for Millwall. Half of any profit
if Trevor was sold on was to go to the Yorkshire club.
Millwall also made a raid on Wolves, who were in receivership, to sign 32
year old Scottish International midfielder Willie Carr for £10,000.
The Millwall squad at the start of the season comprised 21 players:
Goalkeepers: Peter Gleasure, Paul Sansome, Full Backs: Keith Stevens, Paul
Robinson, Phil Warman, Central Defenders: Sam Allardyce, Paul Roberts, Barry
Kitchener, Midfielders: Nicky Chatterton, Willie Carr, Alan West, Andy Massey,
Austin Hayes, Peter Anderson, Forwards: Trevor Aylott, Dean Horrix, Dean Neal
and Bobby Shinton and Utility players: David Martin, Lawrie Madden and Youngster
Anderson was still officially registered as a player, although he had said
he was hoping to hang his boots up due to the form of the Millwall youngsters.
Barry Kitchener was the Youth Team Coach, but still playing for the reserves.
Anderson set the optimistic tone with his programme notes for the first
home league game. "They say that action speaks louder than words and I hope by
now every Millwall supporter has noted the arrival of our two new boys Willie
Carr and Trevor Aylott.
"Their appearance in the Lions
team at the start of the new season spells out to everyone our intentions of
competing with the best and challenging for honours this season."
"Millwall fans have, in the past few season been used to bidding farewell
to their favourite players but, thanks to chairman Alan Thorne, we have
succeeded in reversing that process. While other clubs spent the close season
fretting about their futures we went out with the positive attitude of
strengthening our team and bringing a higher standard of football to the Den."
"We were incredibly fortunate to get a player of the proven quality and
experience of Scottish International Willie Carr. He is a player I have long
admired for his natural talents and his enthusiastic approach to the game."
"He is a great passer of the ball who, even at 32, showed his tremendous
appetite place in Wolves First Division side last season, discovering a new
lease of life under the new management."
"Willie is the sort of player I feel that I can look to not only to doing
the stuff on the pitch but also in helping to guide our younger players."
"The arrival of Trevor Aylott, chased by a number of First Division clubs
and one of the biggest transfer deals of the close season, is further proof of
the chairman's determination not to accept second best."
"I am convinced that Trevor is going to become one of the great heroes of
Millwall. He is tailor made for the club. A Londoner through and through, this
Bermondsey boy is the sort of centre forward who cannot give any less than 100
"He is a player you, the fan, will be able to relate to and, to my mind, he
is one of the best signings the club has ever made."
"He is an excellent player who we thoroughly scouted before convincing him
that Millwall were a club he could make progress with and it showed a lot of
courage on the part of the chairman to gamble on a player whose fee was an
"Not only did we clinch the signatures of these two top players but, also,
we resisted the temptation of selling our top youngsters."
"The players we released we let go because, basically, we could not promise
them first team football. This especially applied to Dibble and Tagg who knew
that, if they stayed, their opportunities would have been severely limited."
"Our aim is to improve and strengthen our squad at all times and, despite
our big outlay, we will continue to bring in the right players if we think they
"It is imperative that we have not just a good team but a good squad and
that is how I see my own role as a player. I have retained my registration and I
will see how the season goes but as far as I am concerned I am one more player
who can help the club got what it wants promotion."
The Chairman Alan Thorne also spelt out the position of the Club in the
As we kick-off the new season with our first home League match at The Den,
I would like to give you a progress report on important issues which have been
taking place behind the scenes during the summer break.
As you will have read in the press, we have been active in the transfer
market buying both Trevor Aylott from Barnsley and Willie Carr from Wolves.
Although money cannot guarantee to buy success, there is an air of quiet
optimism running through the Club and I have never looked forward to the start
of a new season with so much expectation.
When I became Chairman,18 months ago, I went on record as saying we would
be "buyers" and not "sellers" of players, unless Peter Anderson felt their
particular style did not fit in with his own plans.
During my short time as Chairman we have already spent nearly half a
million in the transfer market, and have bought virtually a new team including
Sam Allardyce, Bobby Shinton, Alan West, Dean Neal, Lawrie Madden, Austin Hayes
and more recently, of course, Willie Carr and Trevor Aylott.
Although success on the pitch is vital to the future of the Club, it is
also critical that similar improvements are made off the field, if we are to
compete with the best teams in the land, with facilities to grace the occasion.
We have, therefore, been hard at work during the close season on a wide
variety of projects and I can report the following progress.
Redevelopment of the Den
Although our plans looked like collapsing when Asda withdrew at the end of
the last season just at the point when contracts were due to be signed, the
scheme is still very much alive and kicking.
The Lewisham Borough Council has given me complete charge of the project
and we have now identified and ironed out the various problems, which partly
caused the Asda deal to fall through.
We have appointed Hillier Parker May & Rowden, an international firm of
Chartered Surveyors with vast experience of shopping schemes, as our
professional advisors. They have prepared a preliminary development brief
setting out exactly what can be built at The Den. This has now been sent to all
major supermarket chains and retailers for consideration and an invitation to
enter into initial discussions. The next step will be to draw up a short list
and, hopefully, before the end of this season we will be in a position to
appoint our partners in this joint venture.
Cold Blow Lane Entrance
Irrespective of the development going through, we have instructed
architects to draw up plans for a major face lift to the Cold Blow Lane
entrance. This will involve new turnstiles, new toilets, the resiting of Kiosks
and a general upgrading of the whole area.
Although we may have to apply for planning permission, our intention is to
begin construction as quickly as possible, even if it means work being carried
out during the season.
More news on this and the redevelopment scheme will be given in future
New Catering arrangements
To improve both the standard and range of catering, we have appointed an
outside firm of contractors to supply all refreshments sold inside the Den. I am
continually amazed at the low quality but highly priced goods masquerading as
"food" offered to football followers at grounds all over the country.
I believe the appointment will give supporters much better value for money
and will be welcomed by all Lions fans, from the youngest requiring crisps and
orange squash to the oldest requiring a toasted sandwich washed down with a cup
of hot bovril or stronger tipple.
The Golden Room
As part of the new catering arrangements, we are re-opening the Golden
Room, situated behind the North Stand. This is, without doubt, the finest room
on the ground and I cannot understand why it has been closed for the past few
seasons. I warmly recommend you all to make a point of dropping in for a drink
or snack at the earliest opportunity and I think you will be pleasantly
surprised with what you will find.
This has been completely renovated during the close of season, thus further
improving the facilities which are as good, if not better, than those found at
most other clubs in the Football League.
There are, incidentally, a few vacancies for membership and details can be
obtained from Graham Hortop, the Club Secretary.
We are considering introducing identity cards at the earliest opportunity
to encourage family support by making the Den absolutely safe for Parents and
children to come and watch football.
Hooliganism and violence have been the unacceptable face of football for
far too long and the main cause of falling gates and must be stamped out if the
game is to survive.
We are currently finalising our plans but we envisage that supporters
requiring an identity card will have to give us their name, address and two
passport-size photos. The ground will be divided into two or three sections, the
majority for card holders and the others for opposing fans and non-identity
Fulham have said they hope to introduce the system fairly shortly and if
the idea catches on with other clubs we may also have a section for their
If a fan misbehaves the card will be withdrawn and the only sections of
the Den they could enter will be with opposing supporters where, hopefully, they
will be in a minority or in non-card areas. You will not be able to move from
one part of the ground to another. If we find there is a minority group keeping
a greater number of people away we may even close the part of the ground they
We will also try and split up any other trouble making groups. You may
think we are trying to take away people's identity. In fact, we are trying to do
completely the opposite and safeguard it by making the Den a place where you can
come and watch football in complete safety and have an enjoyable day out with
the whole family.
We would very much like our supporters' views with respect to this scheme.
Reluctantly we have to increase the price of ground admission to £2.50 for
Adults and £1.80 for O.A.P's and Children under 16-years-of-age, with similar
increases for Stand tickets £4.00 and £3.50.
My current policy to admission prices is to try and hold them for a
minimum of two seasons. Although gates last season were slightly up on the
previous year we are still losing money to the tune of £4,000 per week.
The running of a football club is a precarious business and I dread to
think what would have happened if Derek Dougan hadn't managed to save Wolves
from going under three minutes from the receiver's deadline. Too many clubs are
badly financed. The huge transfer fees are now largely historic apart from
isolated cases mainly involving overseas clubs. If such an old and respected
club as Wolves had gone bust the knock-on effect would have been catastrophic.
It would certainly have panicked the banks after all it was Lloyds who pulled
out the plug on Wolves and there is no doubt many clubs would have quickly gone
to the wall.
Millwall would certainly have survived but only because I personally
guarantee our overdraft currently in excess of £1 million. However, no one
person can continue indefinitely to finance the heavy losses we are incurring at
Hopefully, the big investment we have made on new players will soon start
coming through on the pitch with good results and increased gates. But we need
an average attendance of 12,000 to even break even and there is no club in the
Football League where attendances last season slumped by a record two million
which can survive on its gate receipts alone.
Alan Throne Chairman of Millwall FC
A new cup competition
The Football League Trophy had a group stage that took the place of
Pre-season friendies in the fortnight before the season started. The groups were
arranged on a local basis with Millwall being in Group 8 with Wimbledon,
Brentford and Crystal Palace.
First up was Wimbledon at the Den, a game Millwall lost 1-0 to a Stewart
Evans goal in front of 2,632. The midweek game at home to Brentford went better,
a 3-0 win with second half goals by Dean Neal, Austin Hayes and Trevor Aylott.
Scoring three goals in a game earned a bonus point for the lions and set up the
group decider with Palace who were also on four points.
Millwall ripped Alan Mullery's Palace to pieces with a 3-0 win thanks to a
great performance by Dean Neal who scored twice, the first a header from close
range from an Aylott nod back from a Stevens cross, the second when Neal cashed
in on a mix up between Hughton and Nebbeling and raced away to tuck the ball
under Jim Barron. Neal almost completed his hattrick in the 58th minute when his
shot came back off the post for Nicky Chatterton to stoop low to head home.
This set Millwall up nicely for the
start of the season, with the defence and attack in fine form. However it was
all to fall flat with three straight defeats. The first away to Preston, saw
Millwall lose 3-2 with Chatterton and Neal on the score sheet, but a missed
penalty by Chatterton blew the chance of a point. The next fixture saw Millwall
away at Northampton in the league cup, a club that finished 90th in the league
the previous season. Despite both goals in the 2-0 defeat coming against the run
of play, it showed up the weakness of the Lions defence.
Millwall's first home league game was a Sunday game against fellow yo-yo
team Cardiff City. It turned out to be a rude awakening with a 4-0 thumping
finally damping any lingering pre-season optimism.
Anderson was at a loss to explain the downturn in fortunes which had seen
three defeats and 9 goals conceded in just over a week. "I'm still 100 percent
convinced I've got a good side. We will only get out of this bad patch if the
players keep believing in themselves. We need a few leaders out on the pitch and
the last thing we must not do is drop our heads."
Millwall had further bad news that week when veteran full back Phil Warman
called it a day and hung his boots up due to a persistent knee injury.
Millwall won the next match at home to Bournemouth and a first minute goal
by Willie Carr got Millwall off to the perfect start and wrapped up the points
thanks to a Sam Allardyce header from a Hayes free kick before half time. The
bad news was the crowd, a paltry 3,012.
The next fixture saw Millwall go down 1-0 at Gillingham to a Cascarino
goal, followed by a disappointing 2-2 draw with Northampton in the second leg of
the league cup first round tie, going out 4-2 on aggregate. The rest of
September saw two 1-1 draws, at home to Bradford and away to Brentford where
Trevor Aylott scored his first league goal for the club and the win was thrown
away When Brentford's McNicholl scored with a 25 yard shot with the last kick of
September ended on a glum note with the Lions well beaten (2-0) at
Portsmouth where Paul Sansome turned Booby Doyle's penalty kick against the post
only for Rafferty to tuck away the rebound. This left Millwall in 22nd place in
the relegation zone.
Things were looking up for Millwall in
early October, first a 3-0 win at home to Huddersfield with Goals from Bobby
Shinton, Trevor Aylott and Andy Massey.
Winter of Discontent
Off the pitch changes were afoot too,
with Chairman Alan Thorne planning to oust directors Peter Martinelli, Reg Burr
and Len Eppell. Club Secretary Graham Hortop left for Charlton.
Millionaire Property Developer Thorne, who had become Chairman 18 months
previously said:" When the board meet on Wednesday I expect it to be the last
for two or three of the directors. I want directors who can do something for
Millwall and not treat it as a social club. I don't want people who cannot play
a part in our future." Thorne would not name names, but Martinelli was missing
from the Huddersfield game and Burr and Eppell left the game early.
Thorne also gave Anderson a vote of confidence saying: "There seems to be
all sorts of rumours flying around, but there is no disagreement between us. I
want Peter to succeed, otherwise he wouldn't have signed a new two year
contract. But he needs time and we both agree its been a bad start. Obviously we
can't afford to finish bottom and we must see an improvement over the next few
games. But nobody knows what's around the corner."
Improvement seemed to be on the cards as Millwall defeated Jim Smith's
Oxford 2-1 at the Den thanks to goals by Dean Neal and Dave Martin. However it
was a false dawn and Millwall would not win again for 15 league games.
The first of these games saw Millwall beaten at Exeter's St James's Park,
losing 2-1 to a last minute goal in a game which they had dominated and missed a
hatful of chances. The next game saw Millwall succumb 4-0 at Bristol Rovers,
where two goals came in the last eight minutes.
A credible 1-1 draw was achieved at Millwall's lucky ground of Brammal Lane
where they had won on their last three visits courtesy of a Andy Massey headed
The FA Cup draw for the first round saw Millwall drawn away at Isthmian
The home game against Plymouth saw Millwall fall two goals behind to a
Cooper drive that went in off the post and a Madden own goal, but Nicky
Chatterton pulled a goal back from the spot just before halftime after Lindsay
Smith had fouled Dean Neal and Andy Massey equalised just after half time.
However Millwall could not capitalise on the fight back and had to settle for a
Anderson said: "If I was a fan out there I would be moaning as well. The
players gave me everything they had and I couldn't fault them for their effort.
We found ourselves two down and naturally the fans were frustrated. But we
fought back well. Then the frustration got to the players and they became tense.
At times you only saw half the team playing."
During the week, Millwall signed 24 year old former Chelsea Defender David
Stride on a Month's contract, after he had returned from American Club
This was to prove Anderson's last act as Millwall manager and his passing
was to prove high farce as were most of Millwall's dealings during the early
Peter Anderson and his assistant Terry Long were suspended for 72 hours on
the morning of the Wrexham home match.
Alan Throne explained what had happened: "The team had been picked on
Friday without Allardyce, Aylott and West. I couldn't see how you could pick a
team on Friday and leave out your two major signings without giving them the
chance of a late fitness test."
"On top of that David Martin had been dropped and I couldn't see his logic.
I tried to contact Peter but couldn't reach him. Then I asked our Physio to give
the players a fitness test at noon on Saturday and all were given the all
"At this stage I decided to take over completely. I thought it best that I
suspend Anderson and Long for 72 hours, but I've thought it over today and they
won't be coming back."
"The whole problem has been worrying me for some time and that really was
the last straw. We are losing £7,000 a week, have a £1.4 Million overdraft and
stand to lose another £100,000 through lost income at the turnstiles. It's all
"I am doing everything possible to get it right, but when you look at the
gates I wonder if people really want football in New Cross anymore."
Anderson was told of the suspension in a letter handed to him when he
arrived at the ground at lunchtime on Saturday. He promptly left the ground.
Anderson said: "I thought only criminals and vandals were banned from
football grounds. I must be a managerial hooligan."
At 33 years old Anderson was one of the youngest managers in the game. He
took the decision to leave out his three senior players after consulting with
the club Physiotherapist Cliff Speight. He said, " feel very down. Aylott is the
best player at the club and if he had been fit he would have been out there. But
I felt there was a risk of him breaking down. I shall be talking to the PFA
about my position."
Barry Kitchener and Roger Cross took charge of the team, Aylott, Allardyce
and West all played in the 1-1 draw with Wrexham. The new management team had
selected an adventurous three pronged attacked of Aylott, Neal and Horrix.
Millwall struck the woodwork three times in 12 minutes, twice from Aylott and
once from Stevens before Deano netted his sixth goal of the season.
Roger Cross said: "We tried three up front because we are not pressing
teams hard enough at home. It was a bit new for them, but Trevor could have had
Kitchener said; "It was sad that we
were only one up at half time. If we had of got a second I'm sure it would have
been all over. Then when Wrexham equalised we started to look nervous."
The names linked to the vacant job at Cold Blow Lane included Ian Greaves
(the Favourite according to most sources), Alan Ball, Bryan 'Pop' Robson, George
Graham, John Hollins, Ken Furphy, Andy Nelson as well as former Den favourites
Eamon Dunphy, Keith Weller, Harry Cripps, Bryan King, Len Julians, Dennis
Burnett and caretaker boss Barry Kitchener.
Thorne interviewed Greaves, Graham and Hollins, but did not make any
appointment, although rumoured to offered terms to Greaves who turned them down
and he also turned down Charlton who were also managerless.
Sad news also broke during the week
of the tragic suicide of former Lions striker John Lyons.
John, who had left Millwall three years earlier was suffering from
depression, had hung himself at his Colchester Home.
Millwall supporters traveling on coaches to Wigan raised £122 for the
Millwall lost their first ever meeting with football league newcomers
Wigan 3-1 at Springfield park to slip back to 20th place in the division.
Alan Thorne also denied rumours that record signing Trevor Aylott was on
his way back to Barnsley. "I know our financial position is very grave, but talk
of Trevor leaving us is absolute rubbish. I'm very annoyed that such an
untruthful rumour has been printed."
The next fixture, away to Slough in the 1st round of the FA Cup was to
prove a real low point in Millwall's season for more than one reason. It was bad
enough to lose 1-0 to the Isthmian league team thanks to a late penalty, worse
to have had two players sent off, Dean Neal and Dave Martin. However the crowd
trouble that marred the game led to the threat of closure not from the FA, but
from the Chairman.
He wrote the following in programme for the next match at home to Reading:
"Enough is enough. The good name of Millwall Football Club has been dragged
through the mud for the last time. The tragic events at Slough last weekend,
regardless of the extreme provocation, were the last straw and unless there is
an immediate and obvious improvement in the behaviour of the hooligan element
among our fans there will be no club for them or anyone else to support.
"I shall not wait for the Football Association to close down The Den - I
shall do it myself and when I do it will be irrevocable and irreversible."
"This, I promise, is no idle threat. Too much hard work and too much effort
has been put into Millwall Football Club over the last couple of years for it to
be wrecked by a handful of mindless morons. I will not have my own name nor that
of the club I support and love besmirched. I honestly thought we had the problem
licked until a handful of fans ran onto the pitch at Wigan and, even then, I was
prepared to be charitable and believe that they thought it was the end of the
There is no excuse for what happened at Slough. It was a day when our
supporters were put to the severest test - and failed! Before you start writing
and telephoning the club to tell me what you had to put up with....don't bother.
I was there myself. I saw exactly what went on."
"What s more I am not afraid to say so here and now and to repeat my
allegations to anyone who cares to listen. I saw:"
1) Appalling ground security and safety conditions.
2) A pitch which made the playing of football a mockery.
3) Officials who were a disgrace to their Association.
4) Supporters from other clubs at the game purely to cause trouble.
5) Slough's own supporters kick in a glass panel near the main entrance and
a door into the stand.
6) The windscreen to my own car smashed by hooligans.
"Had we been able to rise above all of this and come out of that Cup tie
with our heads held high then I would not have doubted our future."
"But now I must ask myself is it worth throwing good money after bad?"
"It is hard enough getting it right on the pitch without having to worry
about what is going on off it and if the supporters cannot behave then there is
no point in any of us carrying on. Fortunately not everyone wants to degrade or
denigrate the club. That has been amply displayed by the number of top name
applicants we have had for the vacant post of manager and the number of people
who have offered their help in finding the right man."
"That, like the correct sort of support, is critical to the future of the
club....and that is my responsibility and the reason why we have not rushed into
"We have got to get it right for the club could not stand another two years
like the last two anymore than it can stand the sort of awful antics that went
on at Slough."
"I was born and bred a Millwall fan and I don't want to see the club die.
Thorne reinforced his warning in the South London Press, "I will shut this
club down if there is any crowd violence next weekend." The Millionaire
businessman shocked Den fans on Sunday with his warning in the programme.
And Thorne is prepared to put Millwall supporters on trial for next
Saturday's Third Division trip to Lincoln City.
"I've had enough," Thorne stressed. "I hope my article has the desired
affect, because I mean business. In 18 months at this club, I have seen waging
wars between Millwall fans and those at Portsmouth and Oxford. I saw a hint of
it getting bad again at Wigan three weeks ago when the crowd began to invade the
"And of course, I saw it at Slough in the Cup tie last week. Despite the
provocation, it still happened and that will be the last time."
Some still question how far Thorne will go with his threat to withdraw his
interest. But if he does, there is little hope of a new backer guaranteeing the
current overdraft of £1.4 m.
Thorne a highly successful property developer, owns 90 percent of the
Millwall shares. He has been a lifelong Millwall fan and it is because of his
love of the club, that he would rather shut it down than continue to see it
gaining a bad reputation.
Millwall are losing £7,000 per week, while average attendances at The Den
are down from 4,300 last term to 3,600 this season.
Thorne agreed with many supporters that conditions at Slough were far from
perfect. But he stressed, "It was a day when our supporters were put to the test
- and failed!"
And he added, "I now must ask myself, is it worth throwing good money after
Graham Hover, the new Millwall Club Secretary, said, "The chairman will
take each case as it comes. We are hoping there will be no outbreaks of crowd
violence, but if there are, then Mr. Thorne will act if the trouble is
This threat however was to much for Director Peter Martinelli, who resigned
and accused Thorne of threatening the livelihood of the players.
The Reading game ended in a 1-1 draw thanks to a late Nicky Chatterton
Penalty. Kitchener said: "We perked up in the last 10 minutes, but it was a
disappointing result because you expect to win home games against struggling
teams like Reading."
Kitchener also appealed for Thorne to make a quick decision on Anderson's
successor. "The team have to find out about the new manager soon. They don't
know where they are and are beginning to feel the pressure. We've had lots of
names put up for the job and it doesn't help the team."
In the wake of Thorne's threat to close the club down, the BBC Match of the
Day cameras just happened to turn up for Millwall's next away match at Lincoln,
which Millwall lost 3-1 with a consolation goal from Andy Massey. The 200 or so
traveling Millwall fans were perfectly well behaved.
After the match it was reported that Thorne had narrowed his short list
down to two men, George Graham or Barry Kitchener.
The decision was expected to be announced at the Football League Trophy
quarter-final tie with Bradford City at The Den. Graham Hover, the Millwall club
secretary, said, "We've now gone four weeks without a manager which is long
enough. But it's absolutely crucial that the club makes the right decision."
Kitchener, who had failed to give The Lions a win in four games since the
departure of Peter Anderson, saw his hopes take a further blow with the 3-1
defeat at Third Division leaders Lincoln.
Graham, the 38-year-old former Scottish international who is currently
youth ream coach at QPR after following Terry Venables to Loftus Road from
Palace two years ago, has had talks with Thorne.
Kitchener said yesterday, "I've heard
that there will, an appointment in the next 24 hours. I think I can do the job,
but results haven't gone my way."
"I would obviously be choked if I wasn't appointed but I'd still be
prepared to help out in any way."
He added, "The lads have been under more pressure with all this
uncertainty. Once the appointment has been made I'm sure the results will pick
Kitchener applauded the behaviour of Millwall's fans at Lincoln on Saturday
after chairman Thorne warned that he would shut down the club if there was any
Club secretary Hover added, "The club was pleased that there was no
trouble. The fans are aware of the situation and we, hope they can keep it up."
Thorne, who failed to agree terms with out of work manager Ian Greaves last
week, also spoke to Arsenal veteran John Hollins.
Other names which have been connected with the vacant Millwall post are
George Kerr and Chelsea's Bryan Robson.
But Thorne has rejected the idea of appointing another player-manager and
given broad hints that caretaker chief Kitchener could get the job after all.
If chosen, one of Kitchener's first tasks would be to strengthen the
"We haven't been out played in any of our matches but we have given away
silly goals. It's a long time since we last kept a clean sheet and it's getting
to the point where we have to score at least two goals to win." he said.
The decision made the next day by the Chairman was to appoint 38 year old
George Graham as the Manager.
Barry Kitchener took charge of the team for the last time in the football
league trophy match against Bradford at the Den. Barry gave debuts to David
Stride, who hit the bar with a 30 yard shot and 18 year old Alan Mcleary. The
tie ended 1-1 after extra time, with Alan West scoring Millwall's equaliser and
was decided on penalties. Aylott, Hayes and Shinton scored with their kicks,
with Mellor and Lester scoring for Bradford. Then came Sansome's heroics saving
Keith Black's shot, Carr put Millwall 4-2 up before Sansome pushed away Peter
Jackson's rising shot and was mobbed by jubilant players and fans. Millwall were
through to the Semi Finals.
George Graham began his managerial career at Millwall without any trace of
Surrounded by pressmen and with his collar turned up against the cold,
Graham responded to questions in his distinctive Scottish accent minutes after
Millwall had won their first game in nine matches to reach the last four of the
Football League Trophy.
has the air of authority of a distinguished playing career for Aston
Villa, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United and Crystal Palace.
He revealed he is on a contract and said, "What's important is
getting Millwall back on its feet.
"For the last five years I've wanted to become a manager and in the
past three years I've been doing my homework." "I have been lying low
since I finished playing three years ago. I've studied how clubs are
run. The last 2½ years I've been at QPR under one of the best coaches
in the country, Terry Venables, and they've given me an excellent
"I feel that it's time to become a manager. I believe Millwall is a
good start for me."
Although Millwall have
spent £400,000 on new players in two years, cash will be available for signings
but Graham emphasises: "The Players have to prove to me that they have a future
at the club. I'm giving everyone a fair chance and I'll review the situation
Graham's No. 2 will be Theo Foley, the QPR reserve coach and former
assistant manager of Millwall while caretaker manager Barry Kitchener reverts to
youth team chief.
Alan Thorne also hit back at former director Peter Martinelli. "It has long
been my opinion that the washing of dirty linen in public can only serve to
damage our credibility and it is with some regret that I feel bound to try and
restore public faith in so as far as possible."
"I do not believe I have threatened the livelihood of the players. When I
took over as chairman the club was on the verge of bankruptcy. That is why I was
asked to take over."
"The Club is no longer on the point of closure due to non payment of debts
and in this sense the livelihood of the staff and players can be said to have
Graham first game in charge saw no change in luck as Millwall surrender a
lead in the last 10 minutes to lose 2-1 at Doncaster Rovers. Graham was pleased
with the way the team played "for the first 60 minutes. We lost control of the
midfield in the second half after doing so well early on, but Doncaster deserve
credit for pushing so many players forward."
Games came thick and fast now over the Christmas and New year period. The
Club did its best to spread Christmas cheer, dropping the price for Pensioners
for the day to 10 pence and dressing the Groundsman up as Father Christmas to
dish out present to children in the crowd. However on the pitch the Lions were
beaten 1-0 at the Den by Orient on Boxing day by a Keith Houchen goal. The next
day at Roots Hall, Dean Neal gave Millwall the lead, but Dave Cusack equalised
for the Shrimpers to leave the final score all square.
New years day saw Millwall held One All at the Den by Chesterfield with
Dean Neal on the score sheet again for the Lions and Two days later Neal and
Aylott were on the scoresheet in a 2-2 draw against Newport at Somerton Park.
This left Millwall firmly rooted to the bottom of the division after
exactly half the fixtures.
Rain caused Millwall's next fixture away to Cardiff to be postponed late
on. Graham got his first win as Millwall manager the next week in a 1-0 home win
over fellow strugglers Preston to move Millwall off the bottom of the table.
Graham was not going to let the press suggestion that the only thing to separate
the two side wallowing in the depths in the depths of Division Three was an own
goal after 7 minutes.
"Lawrie Madden will be awarded the goal and he deserved it" insisted
Graham. "Lawrie made a strong run and his header at the far post had the beating
of the goalkeeper. The fact that a defender nudged the ball across the line made
little difference." However the crowd for the game was Millwall's lowest of the
The reason why Millwall were doing so poorly was a mystery. There certainly
was enough quality in the Millwall squad to be higher up the table. Three of the
players, Allardyce, Aylott and Madden would be playing First Division football
before too long. However time was running out for them to prove their worth to
A three- nil defeat against Bournemouth at Dean Court did not bode well,
but Graham although disappointed was not despondent. "With another 21 league
matches to be played we still have time to put things right."
Cup Joy for the Lions
Millwall disposed of Reading 3-1 at Elm park in the Semi Final of the
Football League Trophy. Reading were down to the bare bones playing three part
timers, a Brickie, a Salesman and a Removals man. The Millwall goals came from
Hayes, Neal and Horrix.
Millwall were through to the
final and would face either Lincoln or Chester. Home advantage for the 23rd
February final would be decided by a toss of a coin.
Millwall then topped a great week with a 4-1 win over Gillingham at the
Den. Gillingham took the lead after only 32 seconds through Tony Cascarino. Dean
Neal equalised with a dipping 25 yard shot midway through the half before David
Stride and Andy Massey put Millwall in charge just before the interval. Millwall
completed the scoring just after the interval when Hodge failed to hold Aylott's
full blooded drive and Hayes tapped in the loose ball.
The next two games against promotion chasing Cardiff and Portsmouth brought
two further defeats for the Lions. Millwall went down 3-0 at Ninian Park and 2-0
at the Den for the Sunday morning kick off which saw Millwall's biggest crowd of
the season so far, 5,621.
The 11.30am kick off was necessary after the running battles that occurred
at the FA Cup replay last season. More than 300 Police were on duty, four times
the normal number. 1,200 visiting fans attended the game, which passed off with
one minor pitch invasion soon after kick off and the odd minor skirmish. One
arrest was made and a further Seven people were ejected from the ground.
Millwall had to foot Portsmouth's £500 bill for staying at a Bayswater Hotel to
get their agreement for the early start.
Major Surgery Required
After these two defeats Graham has seen
enough. With the club second from bottom and five points adrift from safety,
Graham declared, "Major Surgery needs to be done here."
"No rush signings will be done overnight, but four or five new players
would make my task make easier. Like most clubs we have got to reduce our staff
before we can bring in new players."
Graham landed his first two signings that week, Crystal Palace Midfielder
Steve Lovell and Southampton Goalkeeper Peter Wells, both on a months loan.
"Both players have now got the chance to prove to me that they have a first
team future at Millwall. If things go well they'll be offered a contract." said
Lovell who was still only 22, was a promising youngster under Graham during
his coaching spell at Selhurst Park.
"He's made over 20 appearances in the Second division this season and I can
use him in midfield or defence."
"We're going through a tough period where we play all top six clubs during
February", said Graham.
Lincoln joined that list when they beat Chester to reach the final of the
Football League Trophy. Millwall lost the toss for home advantage and the final
was scheduled to be played at Sincil Bank on Tuesday 22nd February.
Graham also revealed that Trevor Aylott had been in to see him about his
future. "Naturally he's concerned because he isn't scoring goals, but he is not
on the transfer list."
The Match of the Day cameras were again present to record Millwall's worst
defeat of the season, a 5-1 mauling at 5th placed Huddersfield. Graham said,
"Most of my ladsworked hard enough, but we rarely could match Huddersfield's
skill and power. At times we knocked itabout quite well and made a few chances,
but I wasn't surprised that we were so well beaten. Some of my players are just
not good enough and we need some new faces."
After studying the video of the match, Graham sounded a back to basics
warning: "We are giving away goals that should never be seen in professional
football. We must play together and learn to defend as a unit."
"If we are going to stay in this division the players have to get back to
basics. When we lose possession they must battle to win the ball back. There are
players at the club who think they are better than they really are."
Millwall had been looking to replace the battered old trainers dug
outs but with the money being short had made do with a lick of paint.
Jubilee club member Paul Scally of Metronome Business Machines Ltd
kindly provided a set of new dug outs at no cost to the to the club.
| The next three
games were all postponed. The midweek Bristol Rovers game was called off
as the Den pitch was covered in frozen ruts, Oxford were involved in Cup
action and the Football League Trophy Final was rescheduled to April as
Lincoln had rescheduled a league game for the 22nd February. It gave
Graham the chance to bring in striker Kevin Bremner for £25,000 from
Colchester. Willie Carr meanwhile had his contract cancelled by mutual
consent, after Graham told him he did not fit into his plans.
Bremner's debut was at The Den against Exeter which turned out to be
Millwall's best win of the season. Dean Neal got the ball rolling with a
blatantly offside goal after 5 minutes, and completed his hattrick before
limping off injured. Aylott broke his seven game drought before Chatterton
wrapped up the scoring late on.
Graham however was beaming about Kevin Bremner's debut. "The lads so keen.
He competes for everything and straightaway the crowd fell in love with
him. You don't have to motivate Kevin. He's so proud just to put on his
shirt and give you 100 per cent."
Graham's wheeling and dealing continued that weekend, a swap deal was
arranged for Gillingham's Midfielder Dean White with Dean Horrix going in
the other direction with Millwall receiving a small fee.
Graham said, "People keep telling what a fine player Dean was last season,
but you can't turn the clock back. I have enough forwards and not enough
midfielders so it is a useful swap."
Horrix had joined the Lions straight from school and helped the clubs win
the FA Youth Cup in May 1979. He scored 18 goals last season and won the
Player of Year award. This season so far he had made only a dozen
appearances and the signings of Aylott and Bremner have pushed him into
White, 24 years old, is an aggressive central midfielder. "Dean joined
Gillingham from Chelsea five years ago as a defender, but converted into
what he does best, attack from midfield." said Graham. He was Gillingham's
joint top scorer last season with 14 goals
Graham also revealed that two more players could be leaving soon.
Allardyce, 28 and Bobby Shinton, 30, both have asked for moves before the
March 24th deadline and have been placed on the transfer list.
Graham said, "Sam believes he is not playing well and that a move will do
him good. It's my policy not to stand in the way of anyone who isn't happy
at the club.
Millwall slipped to defeat at the next game, away to Plymouth 3-1, with
three goals conceded in the last six minutes. Manager George Graham said:
"I thought the win was on this time. I have nothing but admiration for the
way the lads stuck to the task. This time I was convinced that we would
keep a clean sheet."
The turning point came in the 72nd minute when Paul Roberts was sent off
for a comment made to the linesman. Graham had no complaints about the
sending off but was critical of the referee who booked four Millwall
players on the night.
Millwall held out until the 84th minute when Wells failed to hold a
Phillips shot and Sims nipped into score. Millwall immediately hauled off
Neal and brought on Robinson to shore up the defence. However Millwall
fell behind within a minute as Phillips beat Wells with an unstoppable
shot from 30 yards. Millwall nearly snatched a last gasp point when Massey
rattled the bar, but Phillips finished off Millwall when Wells failed hold
a Sims header.
Despite completing his ban, Allardyce was not recalled for the trip to
Fellows Parks and with Roberts missing, Millwall played a makeshift back
four and were well beaten by Walsall, 4-0, with Steve Lovell scoring an
Despite his oggie, Steve Lovell was snapped up permanently from Palace on
free transfer and Graham talked to Southampton about having Wells loan
period extended. However Millwall were again bottom of the Division, 10
points adrift of safety with only 14 games remaining.
Graham said: "Our defensive record
worries me . We've only had one clean sheet since I've been manager and
that's something we have to work on."
George Graham then pulled off three signings in a day. Dave Cusack and
Anton Otulakowski joined from Southend for a joint fee of £60,000 and Ian
Stewart joined on loan from QPR. To cap the day off Graham persuaded
Lawrie McMenemy to extend Peter Wells loan period for a further month.
"We made some good very good deals",
said Millwall Assistant Manager Theo Foley, "Both Southend players will
make a difference to us and we are delighted to have got Stewart from
Otulakowski, the 27 year old former West Ham midfielder, had been a
Millwall target two months previously. But Millwall could not agree terms
because of Otulakowski wage demands.
Cusack, 23, a powerful central defender is seen as the man to plug
Millwall's leaky rearguard.
Stewart, 21, a winger, scored the wining goal for Northern Ireland against
Germany last month, is understood to be one of three Rangers players that
Graham has been trying to sign on loan.
"We are very grateful that Rangers have let us have Ian" said Foley, "He's
been in their first team this season and has been doing well."
Millwall chairman Alan Thorne said: "We hope to build a side to do well
for us. We hope that they will keep us in the Third Division, but if they
don't then they'll help us straight back next year."
Thorne admitted that Millwall are
expecting a trading loss of £350,000 this year and this was why he had let
Barry Kitchener go. "We are running the club with Four full time members
of staff, while clubs like Brentford cope with just two. We got to reduce
our expenditure all round."
"There are players on the transfer list we can sell. We've simply got to
improve the gates and we feel that making some good signings will help.
Last year we averaged around 6,000 people for home matches. Now we are
down to 3,800."
"It's depressing, but I'm not going to give up. I'll give this club
another two years to pick up." Kitchener admitted that his dismissal did
not come as a total surprise. "With the money the club is losing and our
position in the table, I knew one of the coaching staff would have to go.
I wasn't expecting my contract to be renewed at the end of the season, but
I didn't think I'd have to go as soon as this."
"Kitchener holds no ill feelings for chairman Alan Thorne or his coaching
colleagues, but he did admit, "I felt bitterly disappointed when Peter
Anderson decided he didn't want me to play first team football again. I
think I could have got him out of trouble at that time."
"The only thing that I do feel a bit sick about is leaving the youth team
when we've got an unbeaten run of eight games going. I would have liked to
seen the lads through to the end of the season."
"Kitchener, who has handed over youth team affairs to Roger Cross,
predicts a bright future for several of the club youngsters. "Alan Mcleary
will be a great player, but I also rate lads like Nicky Coleman, Carl
Cowley, John Neal and Teddy Sheringham."
"Kitchener joined the club back in 1964 and made his Millwall debut at
Birmingham three years later. It was as a 19 year old that Kitch first
made an impact in 1967. Manager at the time Benny Fenton said after a 3-0
pre-season defeat at Dundee, "If this lad Barry keeps on playing like
this, we won't have to look any further for a quality centre half."
Kitch become a fixture in the side, being ever present for the next five
and a half seasons amassing 244 consecutive league appearances and
appearing in 523 league games for Millwall and 602 appearances in all
Kitch spent one spell away from Millwall when he was loaned out to Tampa
Bay Rowdies between May and September 1979. Kitch joined Tampa after the
regular season had been underway for 10 games, but played all the last 20
regular season games. He played alongside Rodney Marsh, Peter Anderson,
John Gorman, Steve Wegerle (brother of Roy), and Jan Van der Veen. Tampa
were coached by ex-Millwall manager Gordon Jago and the games were played
in front of average home crowds of 30,000.
Tampa topped the Eastern Division of the American Conference and entered
the playoffs to reach the SoccerBowl. They beat Detroit Express home and
away, beat Philadelphia away in a shoot out and then won the home game to
reach the American Conference final. They lost the away game (1-2) but won
the home match (3-2) which meant that a Mini game was played immediately
afterwards to decide who would progress to the finals. Tampa won this
One-nil and would met Vancouver in the SoccerBowl in New York.It would be
Tampa's second successive Soccer Bowl appearance.
Tampa lost 2-1 to the Derek Possee less Whitecaps who had beaten The New
York Cosmos to reach the final.
"I've enjoyed all my games and all my times at Millwall, I've made some
marvelous friends at the club during the past 18 or so years. I went back
to say goodbye and pick up my things. It hasn't really sunk in yet what
has happened to me."
Running Out Of Time
Millwall lost the next game 2-1 at home
to Sheffield Utd. Seven recent signings played for Millwall in the match
and Graham recognised that time was running to avoid Fourth Division
The only problem with brining in so many players is that it takes time for
them to blend. That's something we haven't got much of at the moment" said
Graham. "I'm not even think about relegation. I'm building a new side for
the future and I've almost got the squad I need. Overall they did well.
Their work rate and commitment was good and if we had scored in the first
half I think we would have won easily. We badly needed an early goal."
Instead Sheffield Utd scored on the hour mark against the run of play and
ten minutes later Dave Cusack marked his debut with a spectacular own
goal. Under pressure, Cusack played a high back pass to Wells who could
only push it against the bar and watch in agony as it rolled across the
line. Anton Otulakowski impressed on his debut as did Ian Stewart a second
half for Nicky Chatterton.
Sheffield Utd who had only won once on their previous travels had to
withstand a late siege after goalkeeper Keith Waugh had to go off after he
gashed his arm on a net hook pulling off a great save from Otulakowski,
Alan Young took over in goal in the 80th minute. However Millwall only
breached their defence once when Steve Lovell beat Young with a low drive
four minutes into injury time.
Graham allowed goalkeeper Peter Gleasure join Fourth Division Northampton
Town on loan for the rest of the season.
Millwall still had not won away from home all season and the next game
away to seeming safe Wrexham proved no change of luck. Millwall fell two
goals behind early on, through a Simon Hunt free kick and then Hunt was on
hand to cash in on an overhit Stride back pass which Wells could only palm
into his path. Bremner cashed in on a defensive mistake at the other end
to reduce the arrears and then pressured Steve Dowman into tucking the
ball past his own keeper for the equaliser.
Ian Stewart was then brought down in the 63rd minute and Nicky Chatterton
converted the penalty to cap a fine fightback. However the lead lasted
just 3 minutes before Peter Wells completely misjudged the flight of an
Arkwright free kick and then Steve Buxton scored again for the Welsh
outfit to lead the Lions 4-3. In the final moments Anton Otulakowski
rattled the crossbar with a header and White somehow put the rebound wide.
Things were desperate now with Millwall 12 points from safety.
With transfer deadline week upon him, Graham made one last sortie into the
market. In came Chelsea Defender Micky Nutton, 23, for £65,000. (although
Graham described the fee as 'a small fee') "Micky will play alongside Dave
Cusack in the centre of defence. He's very quick and we are lucky to be
getting someone with so much experience playing in the Second Division"
Nutton had made 80 League appearance for Chelsea, lost his place in the
first team through injury and was impressive for Reading on recent loan
spell helping them to a six game unbeaten run.
The Millwall squad spent three days away at Bisham Abbey. Graham
explained: "It will help the newcomers get to know each other better.
There were some encouraging signs in the 4-3 defeat at Wrexham. The
midfield was excellent and we did enough to have won.
"As well as players coming in, the deadline week was to see movement in
the other direction. Austin Hayes was thinking over a free transfer move
to Northampton and First Division Luton came in for Trevor Aylott.The fee
agreed was a shock, just £55,000, representing a £95,000 loss in just
Trevor was to join up with Paul Walsh signed from Charlton last month.
Graham said; "The sale of Trevor is not just a question of balancing the
books. I will be putting that money towards the continued rebuilding of
the team. I was under no pressure to sell Trevor. He was brought here to
score goals and that's something he hasn't been doing. Now I have the
money to carry on rebuilding the team during the summer.
"The small fee in contrasted to the £200,000 West Ham paid for Dave
Swindlehurst was dismissed by Graham: "I thought it was an excellent
offer from Luton, considering the state of the transfer market. I
couldn't believe the Swindlehurst fee - but that's football."
Aylott's eight month spell at the Den was frustrating for him and the
fans. His clever footwork, heading power and passing skills were often
wasted. Aylott was signed as a target man - a position he rarely took
up and a role he admitted didn't suit him.
Graham also revealed that Millwall were prepared to write off another
£90,000 by letting transfer seeking Sam Allardyce go on a free
transfer.However no one came in for him before the deadline.
Things Are Looking Up
Only 2,772 turned up at the Den for the 11:30am Sunday morning kick off
for the match against Wigan. The early kick off was to avoid clashing with
the broadcasting of the TV highlights of the Milk Cup Final.
Those who stayed away missed an upturn in Millwall fortunes. Only two
players remained in the starting XI from Anderson's team, Dean Neal and
Nicky Chatterton. Ian Stewart was the star of the show. Stewart said: "I
like getting the ball and running at defences. I always play that way
whether it's at international level or with my friends on the housing
estate in Belfast where I come from. I was born just down the road from
George Best and he's always been my Idol. I want Millwall to win all their
games and stay up. I don't want to let anyone down. I'm not here for my
benefit, but for the supporters.
"Millwall took the lead after 12 minutes, Anton Otulakowski sent in a low
cross from the right, Bremner stepped over it and Dean Neal coolly tapped
home past Roy Trunks in goal. All Millwall's best attacks stemmed from
Stewarts dribbling and intelligent crosses. The second goal to make the
game safe did not come till the 80th minute, Dave Cusack played a free
kick out wide to David Stride who drove in a low curling shot which Trunks
could only push out, but Stewart was on hand to tuck away the rebound.
Graham said of Stewart;
"It's exciting to see a player like Stewart take on defences. It's one of
the qualities going out of football so we're glad to have it at the Den".
The Easter weekend is usually make or break for teams chasing promotion of
struggling against relegation. Millwall would secure six points from their
fixtures at Home to Southend and away at Orient.
Things did not start well for the Lions as they fell behind in the 10th
minute to a goal by Southend's Garry Nelson. However Anton Otulakowski
equalised for the Lions after five minutes following a mazy run and
Southend Keeper Mervyn Cawston was lucky to stay on the pitch when he
brought down Kevin Bremner in the area, Chatterton converted the spot
kick. Millwall wrapped up the points in the last minute when Alan Mcleary
scored his first senior goal for the club.
Millwall clocked up their first away win of the season on Easter Monday
away at Orient. Millwall raced into a 3-nil lead. Nigel Gray brought down
Dean Neal in the 11th minute and Chatterton scored his second spot kick of
the Easter weekend. Within three minutes, Kevin Bremner cracked a shot
against the post, but Anton Otulakowski was on hand to drive home the
rebound. On the half hour Bremner flicked on a Wells goal kick for Stewart
to race away and chip the ball over Mervyn Day for number three.
After half time it was a different matter, John Cornwell and Houchen
pulled two goals back but the Lions hung on for the precious win.
Anton Otulakowski declared "We are far too good to go down. We seem to
have picked up just at the right time. The lads now really believe in
themselves and the team spirit is fantastic. Our next two games are at
home and we've still got to play Doncaster, Reading and Chesterfield, who
are all struggling at the bottom. If we win those then we've got a great
chance of staying up."
Graham said; "We have nine more games matches and I'm not setting any
targets for the players. It's been a good Easter, but that didn't surprise
me. I've quickly rebuilt the side and that's already paying off."
"The club was in danger of going down to the Fourth Division with what on
paper would have been one of the most glamorous teams ever. That's all
changed and although I've still got a lot of work to do, I can see the
basis of a successful side.
"Graham also saluted the club's supporters. "They were terrific at Orient
and got behind us even when the going got tough. They can see there is a
true fighting in the side and I promise I will repay them with a team to
be proud of.
"Dean White's booking at Orient would rule him out of the Football League
Orient's manager Ken Knighton said: "Millwall are a very brave club and
George's efforts are being rewarded. But the relegation issue is going to
be a terrific fight right to the death."
However the good news on the pitch was overshadowed by the death of
director Herbert Burnige. Herbie as he was affectionately known, 62,
died suddenly at his Harrow home on Good Friday.
Herbert was born in
the old Guinness Buildings at Snows Fields, a far from-salubrious
corner of Bermondsey, Herbert's father had been a docker, and Millwall,
the docker's football club, became a passion for this successful
chartered surveyor with his own firm in Mayfair.
He had been a club director for last 13 years and served as Millwall
chairman between 1974 and 1978. He was more than anyone else responsible
for implementing the youth policy that culminated with the winning of The
FA Youth Cup in 1979.
He will be remembered for his forthright views and common sense which
served the club so well over the years.
Millwall suffered another blow with the news that Nicky Chatterton would
be out of the rest of Millwall's relegation battle. The 28 year old
midfielder suffered kidney damage during the 3-2 win at Orient and was
kept in hospital overnight near his Eastbourne home.
"Nicky got through the game alright, but the problem flared up later",
said manager George Graham. "He has had tests and will see a specialist
next week. It's a big blow because Nicky has been playing very well just
"Graham also revealed that Alan West, 31, had left the club, his contract
being cancelled by mutual consent.
Millwall chalked up their fourth straight win, beating Lincoln 2-1 at the
Den. It was the first time Millwall had won four on the trot since George
Petchey's side had won their last six games to stay in the second division
by one point.
Millwall took the lead when David Felgate could only push out Dean Neal's
shot and Ian Stewart fired home his third goal for the club. Gordon Hobson
equalised for the visitors when he caught Wells off his line with a well
executed lob in the 33rd minute. Millwall warpped up the points in the
64th minute when Neal netted with a brave diving header from a Bremner
That was probably the worst
we have played for a while, yet we won without being at our best. It got
scrappy at times and the lads knew they didn't play well", said Graham.
Promotion chasing Bristol Rovers were the next opponents at the Den for
Millwall. Micky Nutton was missing with a groin strain with Lawrie Madden
taking his place. Millwall fell behind after 30 seconds when Rovers
forward Keith Curle lobbed Peter Wells from 20 yards. This was the second
game on the trot that Wells had been caught off his line and gave Millwall
a mountain to climb.
The game turned out to be a bad tempered affair with eight bookings and a
sending off. The four unlucky lions were Lovell, Stride, Neal and
Otulakowski, while Williams, McCaffery, Curle and Withey were the Rovers
Millwall had had four previous shouts for a penalty turned down, when Neil
Slatter barged into Anton Otulakowski in the area and the referee pointed
to the spot in the 53rd minute. Curle received his second booking for
arguing and Dean White standing in for Nicky Chatterton made no mistake
from the spot.
In the words of Brian Alexander, "The crowd of 4,873 roared the Lions on,
making sufficient noise expected from a gate twice the size." However
Millwall could not make their numerical advantage count and had to settle
for a point.
"I feel a lot more confident now", said Graham, "We are undefeated for
five games and the new players are now starting to blend. Tuesday's home
draw with Bristol Rovers was a slight setback but we fear nobody.
"The next night saw a pleasant diversion from Millwall's relegation
dogfight. The Evening Standard London Five-a-Sides had been a happy
hunting ground for Millwall, having won previously in 1978 and 1979.
Millwall triumphed with a team of unknown players with Roger Wynter the
star man. The 17 year old midfielder scored eight goals and got the
watching England manager enquiring whether he was English.
Millwall's route to glory saw Charlton beaten 3-2 in the first round, West
Ham 2-0 in the second round, Arsenal 3-1 in the Semi Final and Brentford
3-2 in the Final.
Theo Foley, Millwall's assistant manager, said: “They had a very
difficult path to the final and considering the average age was only 18, I
think they played superbly.”
Goalkeeper Paul Sansome and Massey were the oldest players at 21.
McLeary is 18 and John Neal, Wynter and substitute Teddy Sheringham are
But the night belonged to little Roger Wynter, who had the pace and vision
to take up good positions and the skill to beat defenders in
one-against-one situations. "What I liked about him was his patience",
said England Manager Robson. "He was never hurried. He took time and made
sure with his shots.
”Millwall picked up a vital away point (0-0) at Bradford. Graham wrote in
the programme "The people of Bradford simply could not believe how many
fans we took with us, with two big sections of the grounds dominated by
Millwall. Those who made the trip must have been satisfied that they were
given value for money by the team for although it was no classic, we
battled away to get the point we deserved.
"Millwall were again in with the chance of some silverware in the next
game, the rescheduled Football League Trophy Final at Lincoln's Sincil
Bank. George Graham would have to make wholesale changes as 7 players were
either injured, suspended or cup tied. Newcomers, Otulakowski, Cusack,
Bremner and Lovell were cup tied, White was suspended and Stewart and
Nutton recovering from injury. Graham recalled reserve keeper Sansome,
Paul Robinson, Keith Stevens, Andy Massey, Paul Roberts and transfer
listed Sam Allardyce. Graham also filled berths on the five man subs bench
with the victorious youngsters from the Evening Standard five-a-side
Millwall supporters almost outnumbered home fans in the crowd of 3,142 for
the game played in heavy rain with the pitch covered in puddles. The
referee Neil Midgley admitted that if it had been a League game he would
have called it off.
Millwall, skippered by David Stride, fell behind in the 31st minute when
Marshall Burke fired home a Hobson cross. Millwall equalised just after
half time when a poor clearance landed at Neal's feet and his low shot
beat Felgate and just crept over the line in the rain sodden goalmouth.
Millwall took the lead in the 59th minute when Andy Massey's inswinging
corner was misjudged by Felgate and Mcleary made sure on the line. Both
claimed the goal, but it was awarded to Mcleary.
Millwall increased the lead in the 71st minute when Neal's shot went in
off a post from 15 yards. Lawrie Madden then fouled Gordon Hobson to give
away a penalty, but Sansome saved well. Burke scored his second for
Lincoln with a chip over Sansome three minutes from time, but Millwall
held out to win the Trophy.
The national press had shunned the match and most took a report from a
local and biased reporter who managed to not only to get the Millwall goal
scorers wrong crediting Martin with Neal's goals, but also besmirch the
name of the Millwall supporters, "Millwall's fans started a skirmish at
half time which brought swift action from the Police" and incurred the
wrath of George Graham.
"The first thing I want to do this week is to thank our fans and put the
record straight. I was furious at reports following our tremendous win in
the Football League Trophy Final at Lincoln of misbehaviour from our
supporters. As far as I am concerned it was malicious and unfounded for
not only did we see no trouble ourselves but also there was not a single
complaint from the home club or the Lincoln Police."
"In fact our supporters were terrific as they have been in recent
weeks, getting behind us in our unbeaten run and the Standard Fives as
well as that Trophy Final. Over a thousand traveled to Lincoln on a
horrible night and I understand that the only aggravation was when a
group of them arrived late to find the turnstiles closed."
"It just goes to show how difficult it is to live down an image and
how hard we have got to work to put it right."
"The same local journalist who maligned supporters also did our
players no good at all in the reports he sent around to the national
newspapers who did not have their own men at the game."
"As a result we received no credit for what was a marvelous triumph,
winning a competition that had 32 entries including the club currently
second in the First Division, Watford. He even managed to get our goal
scorers wrong, thus taking away the credit due to Dean Neal who has shown
outstanding goalscoring form during our winning run.
Millwall faced fellow strugglers Doncaster Rovers at the Den in the next
fixture and paraded the newly won Cups before kick off. Millwall went two
goals up early on through Dean Neal and Kevin Bremner. In the fifth minute
Bremner headed on Stewart's corner and Neal controlled the ball on his
chest before volleying home. After Fifteen minutes, Stewart rolled a free
kick to Otulakowski who fired in a low drive which Bremner diverted past
Doncaster were down to 10 men on half time when Billy Russell committed
the latest in a series of fouls on Otulakowski by Billy Bremner's side,
but as he had already been booked he received his marching orders.
Dean Neal took his tally to the season to 24 when received a past from
Steve Lovell turned Peter Johnson inside out and rifled a shot past
Millwall had a precious game in hand, however it was away at in form
Oxford Utd. Ian Stewart was away on International duty with Northern
Ireland where he would score the winning goal. The game was played on a
mud bath of a pitch and only a string of fine saves by Peter Wells kept
Millwall in the match. The turning point came in the 74th minute when
David Stride pushed Winger George Lawrence in the area and after some
hesitation referee Bert Newsome pointed to the spot. Dave Fogg blasted the
spot kick past Wells for the only goal of the game.
Manager George Graham was unhappy with penalty. "The referee was a
disgrace. If he had given a penalty straight off I wouldn't have minded,
but the fact that he definitely changed his mind after originally refusing
to give the kick was disgraceful.
"Millwall had wasted their game in hand and were still firmly rooted in
the relegation zone with just four games to go. Millwall's next two
fixtures were a crucial six pointer away at fellow strugglers Reading on
the last Saturday in April and then at home to promotion chasing Newport
on Bank Holiday Monday.
Reading were in turmoil. The
supporters were marching in protest against a proposed merger with Robert
Maxwell's Oxford, under the name Thames Valley Royals.
However Millwall found themselves 3-Nil down and down to ten men in the
first half. Pat Earles and Ken Price scored in a two minute spell and then
Ian Stewart was sent off for a crude foul. Kerry Dixon then scored his
30th goal of the season and Millwall looked dead and buried.
Dean White breathed life back into Millwall with a goal before the break.
Tempers were boiling throughout and referee Mike James had eight names in
the book. Millwall fought like Lions and Kevin Bremner reduced the arrears
after 62 minutes and five minutes later Millwall won a penalty which White
converted. Millwall pressed forward for the winner but were reduced to
nine men when Neal was dismissed for a second booking for reportedly
swearing at a linesman. In the closing seconds Bremner was inches away
from touching a home a cross for the greatest come back ever.
Millwall's fate still wasn't in their own hands, but with six clubs within
three points, Millwall knew that winning their last three games would give
them a real chance of survival.
Millwall faced 4th place Newport, who were one point off the promotion
places, in fine form. However it was still goalless going into the last 10
minutes. Millwall had come closest in the first half when Neal rattled the
bar with a 20 yard shot. The Den erupted when top scorer Dean Neal broke
the deadlock in the 82nd minute, Steve Lovell flicked on a Stewart corner
and Neal swiveled on a sixpence to lash home the ball. Six minutes later
Dean White scored from the Penalty spot and Bremner completed the late
flourish with a well placed header.
Millwall's second largest crowd of the season 5,515 had seen Millwall
total dominate and wear down a genuine promotion chasing team. Graham
said. "We dominated the whole game and when we did score it was just a
case of polishing it off."
Newport boss Colin Addison was generous in his praise, "Millwall never
stopped running and grounded us down. Their physical and mental strength
was too great for us. They deserved everything and showed me we are just
not good enough to go up."
However other results were not kind on Millwall with Exeter winning 4-3
against Southend, Reading won 2-1 at Oxford, Orient snatched a point at
Portsmouth, Preston beat Lincoln 1-0 and Wrexham got a point at home to
Millwall were not playing
till Sunday afternoon so would have the advantage of seeing how their
rivals feared. Exeter and Preston both won, while Reading, Orient and
Wrexham all lost. "We don't talk about going down", said Theo Foley,
"Obviously the players realise their futures depend on what happens over
the next week, but just now winning our last two games is all that
George Graham was announced as the Bells Division Three Manager of the
Month for April, Dean Neal won the Player of the Year trophy and Alan
Mcleary won the Young Player of the year Trophy.
Danny Baker, longtime Millwall Supporter and one of the Hosts of LWT's
The Six O'clock came down to film Millwall last rites. However what
they captured would more aptly be titled The Great Escape.
Millwall roared on by their biggest crowd for four years, 9,097saw
Millwall take the lead six minutes before the break. White found David
Stride by the left touchline and his early pass flew down the line to
Stewart. The Irishman wriggled effortlessly past defenders Terry Rowe and
veteran Ron Harris before sending over a perfect cross for Kevin Bremner
to head powerfully home.
The Lions fought tooth and nail to hang onto the lead against a tough
Brentford team led by Terry Hurlock.
Madden had a second-half drive headed off the Brentford line and Wells
saved the day with a brave lunge to deny Cassells a late equaliser.
Millwall hung on and the win meant Millwall had moved out of the
Manager George Graham said "It was a typical derby clash and not a good
game. It was the worst we’ve played for a while and we badly needed a
second goal in order to relax. But we didn’t expect any favours from
Brentford and they gave us a hard time in the first half”.
Alan Thorne said "We're not home and dry yet, but at least our relegation
worries have eased considerably". "We've only lost one of our last 12
matches and I can't remember a better spell since I took over. Our manager
George Graham has done a tremendous job and if we had started the season
with him I'm sure we would be going for promotion now."
It's taken Graham five months to get the Lions out of the bottom four and
victory at relegated Chesterfield will keep them up.
Thorne added, "I've often wondered that if we got a successful side would
the crowds come back. Sunday's turnout proved there are people out there
who want to see Millwall."
The 9,097 gate was their biggest for over four years and Thorne is
planning to launch an official supporters' club soon to go with a new,
enterprising Millwall next season.
Thorne will also be increasing the size of the board this month. "There
are one or two new directors joining," he said.
Meanwhile, Graham is forced to make three changes for the vital last game
at Chesterfield. Dean Neal, Ian Stewart and Dave, Martin are all
suspended, On-loan Stewart returns to QPR, newly promoted to the First
Division, this week and Graham said, "There is no way we can afford to
Kevin Bremner would have to lead a reshuffled attack in and Graham has
called up young midfielders Alan McLeary and Andy Massey, plus defender
Paul Robinson to fill the gaps,
"We might be without our leading forwards, but there is no way we're going
to Chesterfield to defend," said Graham.
"The players have battled tremendously to get us off the bottom and there
will be no relaxing until after the game."
"We proved we can cope with pressure, so it's just another game on
Saturday. Chesterfield might already be down, but they have players who
will be fighting for new contracts and their future in the game. It won't
The Lions have won just one of their 22 away games this season, but
fortunately even defeat could still keep them up. Millwall have a
favourable goal difference and that should be good enough if rivals
Wrexham draw at Reading.
The game turned out to be a virtual home game with around 3,000 Millwall
supporters in the crowd of 4,340.
Then four minutes before the interval, Dean White and Chesterfield's
skipper Bill Green were sent off for fighting after the Millwall
midfielder had fouled him.
The breakthrough came after 66 minutes when Anton Otulakowski was floored
by Martin Henderson in the Chesterfield box. With both regular Penalty
takers, Nicky Chatterton and Dean White missing, it was left to Dave
Cusack to take the spot kick and he did not miss!
Ten minutes later Andy Massey put Otulakowski clean-through, but his shot
flew over the bar.
With Reading beating Wrexham 1-0, Orient 4-1 up against Sheff Utd and
Exeter hanging on for a draw away at Newport a late equaliser would send
Two minutes before the end of only Millwall's second away success in the
League; a jubilant section of a 100 or so traveling fans spilled on to the
pitch in a premature act of celebration.
It took police with dogs several minutes to restore order, but there was
no denying the Lions victory over a relegated Chesterfield side that had
slumped to their ninth defeat in a row.
"We all thought the game was over", said Graham. "The Referee blew up and
made a gesture you expect at the final whistle. You can't blame the fans
and the police over-reacted with their dogs."
Millwall hung on and relegation to Division Four had been avoided.
"We controlled the game and I'm proud of what they've done. Back in March
we were rock bottom and 12 points behind Reading, who were four places
above. Since then the lads have won nine of their last 13 games and only
In the aftermath of the
season George Graham began the clear out of the dead wood. 30 Year old
Striker Bobby Shinton had his contract cancelled by mutual consent. Lawrie
Madden, 27 year old defender, turned down the terms of a new one year
contract and was given a free transfer. "Lawrie did a great job in our
fight to stay up and I would have been delighted if he stayed. But he
didn't like what we were offering and if he can do better elsewhere then
good luck to him", said Graham.
Winger Austin Hayes was also given a free transfer. Sam Allardyce and Paul
Roberts were both on the Transfer list, Allardyce could go on a free, but
Graham wanted a small fee for Roberts.