Millwall 1982-83 Season Review
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)
George Graham
Assistants: Terry Long (Sacked),
Theo Foley
Captain: Nicky Chatterton
Player of the Year: Dean Neal

Transfers In:
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)

Transfers Out:
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).

Peter Anderson Millwall Manager

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 Alan McLeary.

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 percent."

"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 unknown quantity."

"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 are needed."

"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 programme.

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 programmes.

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.

Jubilee Club

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.

Identity cards

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 card-holders.

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 card-holders.

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 use.

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.

Price Increases

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.

Millwall finances

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 the moment.

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.

Bad Start

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 the game.

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 goal.

The FA Cup draw for the first round saw Millwall drawn away at Isthmian League Slough.

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 point.

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 Jacksonville.

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 1980's.

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 clear."

"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 very dismal."

"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 an hattrick"

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 family.

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 game."

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 a decision."

"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. Do you?

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 pitch."

"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 bad?"

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 sufficiently bad."

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 up."

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 crowd violence.

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 defence.

"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 flamboyance.

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.

Graham 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 grounding."

"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 after that."

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 been secured."

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 season, 2,816.

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 Graham.

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.

Lawrie Madden challenges for the ball setting up the first goal

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 Graham.

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 the reserves.

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 own goal.

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 Rangers."

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."

Farewell Kitch

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 competitions.

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 football.

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" said Graham.

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 eight months.

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.

Shock Exit: Trevor has gone
"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 swerving shot.

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 Trophy final.

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."

Farewell Herbie

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 recently.

"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 cross.

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 guilty men.

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 all 17.

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 winning squad.

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 by The South London Press, but the Lincolnshire press seem certain it was Massey's goal.

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 Peacock.

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 Peacock.

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 Chesterfield.

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 matters."

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 relegation zone.

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 keep him."

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 be easy."

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 2nd Goal for Reading and a late equaliser for Chesterfield would send Millwall down.

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 lost once."

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.

One Who Was There: Jim Nash Chesterfield 14th May 1983
The journey North by train is a mixture of cold chicken, mum's bread pudding and a few cans of lager, but nevertheless everyone is looking forward to what is after all the most important match of the season.

On arrival at Chesterfield we are met by a large contingent of stone-faced policemen who insist on every passenger undergoing a body search. The mood begins to change. Two rather elderly supporters discreetly ask what's happening and are sternly told, "We are expecting two thousand Millwall yobs and will treat them as such."

Body search completed we are herded cattle style into a compound and told to remain there by three mounted policemen.

A police sergeant gives us our marching orders, "Four abreast and on the pavement," as the one-mile walk begins.

We are then instructed not to enter shops, pubs or even cross the road. At this point I wonder if the train has in fact stopped in Moscow and not Chesterfield. Am I really being told not to cross the road in a town in the centre of England? As we approach the ground we are met by another large force of policemen.

Inside the ground the Millwall fans outnumber the locals by four to one. One young fan tries to photograph the noisy, but good humoured crowd from the touchline, and without even a discreet word he is hauled away by the police.

A violent thunder-storm mars the action and everyone runs for cover. Half-time comes with no score.
The rain lashes down as Millwall are awarded a penalty and the ground erupts as Dave Cusack scores.

Apart from a brief pitch invasion by no more than a hundred fans who thought they heard the final whistle, the match ends with the right result.

The now good humoured and well behaved fans are escorted back to the station.

From this point on I observe some of the most inept and hostile policing I have ever encountered.

The crowd who are naturally in high spirits are once more herded into their pen by mounted officers. A lady in her mid-forties is left in agony after being crushed by one of the horses.

A dog handler falls victim of his mounted colleagues poor attempts of crowd control Panic sets in and the dog bites the air following a command by his handler. The nearest fan is arrested despite pleading innocence and this only a few feet from where I am standing. Is it my turn next?

Over 1,000 fans are being directed towards a tiny entrance flanked by mounted policemen. A young boy is crushed against a parked car. We are eventually packed on the train and the peaceful journey back to London begins.

A victory for the police, but is the price we have to pay for supporting our local team. The Chief Constable of Derbyshire certainly needs to review his attitude to football fans.
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