Graham had pulled off the greatest escape in Millwall's History. Taking over
a team in the bottom 4 with just 16 points, he gave the players a chance
to prove themselves, but the majority failed to impress, with Millwall
picking up just 12 points in the next 16 games and slumping to the bottom
of the table.
declared that major surgery was required.
players came in Steve Lovell (C Palace initially on loan then on a Free
transfer), Peter Wells (Southampton Loan), Kevin Bremner (Colchester
£25,000), Dean White (Gillingham Player Exchange for Dean Horrix), Anton
Otulakowski (Southend £30,000), Dave Cusack (Southend £30,000), Ian
Stewart (QPR Loan) and Micky Nutton (Chelsea £65,000).
went out, Willie Carr was released, Dean Horrix went to Gillingham in a
swap for Dean White, Peter Gleasure went out on loan to Northampton,
Trevor Aylott was sold on deadline day to First Division Luton for
£65,000 and Alan West was released on free transfer.
results were to be dramatic. From being dead and buried in the middle of
March, Millwall picked up 27 points in 12 games. losing just once, 1-0 at
promotion chasing Oxford Utd.
question on everybody lips was, were the players just playing out of
their skins and would revert to normal form or did Millwall have a team to
challenge for promotion.
George Graham began the clear out of the dead
wood in the summer. Striker Bobby Shinton had his contract cancelled by
mutual consent, Lawrie Madden, turned down the terms
of a new one year contract and was given a free transfer and would later
join Sheffield Wednesday.
Austin Hayes was also given a free transfer and would join Northampton. 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.
of his first six months at the Den, Graham said: "I love to work and
rebuilding Millwall certainly keeps me busy. But I've enjoyed every minute
since I joined in December and now I face an important summer. If I can
get get the right players - and strikers are my priority - then we will
have a quality squad that should push for promotion. The next two or
three signings are going to be crucial."
lads were marvelous in keeping the club out of the Fourth Division, but
I've told them there will be no sitting back. There must be competition
for places and the next couple of signings should do just that. I'd like
to get the new men in before the season starts, but I won't be hustled and
risk making a mistake."
Anderson popped back up in British Football after briefly playing again
for Tampa Bay, he was Nike's man in the UK and signed up kit deals with
Wolves and Sunderland and sponsorship deals with several players including
Charlie Nicholas, Ian Rush and Graham Roberts.
one ex-Millwall man leaving Tampa, another one joined, with Sam Allardyce
wrapping his free transfer move to the Florida club, rejecting a trial
with First Division Coventry.
of George Graham transfer targets became known, Watford's 31 year old 6'
4" striker Ross Jenkins. Jenkins who had received offers to
play abroad said: "I've no plans to move home if stay in this
country. I've had over 10 offers, but I've not seen anybody at the moment.
Sometime in July I will decide who to go back to for talks."
did get some good news, with Peter Wells promising to sign on free
transfer for Millwall when his Southampton contract runs out next month.
FC also started to the process to mend their bridges with Lewisham Council
after the Super Den rows. Chairman Alan Thorne announced former Lewisham
council valuer Brian White had been elected to the board. In the long
term, the recruitment of former Lewisham Council figures would pay a
Thorne also announced major fixture changes, two Friday night games and
five Sunday games. "The idea," said Thorne, "is to
avoid clashing with Charlton and we have found we get bigger crowds on
days of pre-season training starting, Millwall suffered a blow when Peter
Wells, who had just signed on free transfer, broke a bone in his left hand
in a practice match against Braintree. Millwall had spent a week away at
an army camp, in Shotley near Ipswich, where they stayed in the Spartan
barracks and tackled the army assault course.
said: "Its a terrible blow. I'm now hoping that Peter will be fit in
time for the start of the season. I've been told it can take up to three
weeks to mend. We've had a very successful week's training, but Peter's
injury is worry."
also confirmed that Nicky Chatterton, now fully recovered from his kidney
damage injury, would continue as club captain.
a new £25,000 drainage system having been installed at the Den during the
summer, Millwall would not be playing any home pre-season friendlies, to
give the new pitch time to mature, but instead would play a string of
local non league clubs. This was to backfire in a wave of bad publicity
for the club as local hooligans teamed up to give Millwall fans a nice
in the Home Counties
first friendly was a behind closed doors game at Eltham with Charlton
which ended 2-2. Dave Cusack and Kevin Bremner got the Lions goals, whilst
Derek Hales and Martin Robinson scored for Charlton.
the signing front, Graham was hitting a brick wall. "I've got some
money to spend and I need to strengthen the squad. I had hoped to
pick up players on free transfers, but it's too late for that now. All the
good players on frees are snapped up early in the summer." Graham
went on to reveal he had drawn up a hit list of six strikers and aimed to
sign at least one of them before the season started.
Tonbridge game which Millwall won emphatically 7-0 thanks to hat-tricks
by Nicky Chatterton and Kevin Bremner and a goal from Dean White was
marred by crowd trouble. The match attracted a large number of Chelsea
fans, many from Tunbridge Wells and the team had to leave the pitch for 13
minutes in the first half as a 100 or so youths fought a battle behind the
goal which spilled into the pitch.
was further trouble in the second half and
the trouble then sparked up outside the ground after the match and several
youths were taken to hospital as was a police woman. Two Millwall fans
were arrested outside the ground.
the aftermath, four non league clubs cancelled their games against
Millwall, Maidstone Utd, Carshalton, Dagenham
and Enfield under pressure from the Police.
official John Carpentiere said: "We were advised late last night that
the game should be called off. They felt they would be unable to cope
should we have crowd trouble."
club Secretary Graham Hover commented: "We have a reputation which is
quite unfair. We have had no trouble at The Den since the Ipswich cup tie
five years ago. Our away games seem to attract an undesirable element and
rival fans can't be kept apart in separate enclosures in small grounds
Thorne in an interview with South London Press voiced his frustration at
the whole chain of events under the banner headline 'Crush These Thugs'
by police reports from Tonbridge, Thorne raged: "Millwall fans were
not, in anyway, to blame for the incidents at Tonbridge. I would
have liked to have gone in a boxing ring with some of those thugs last
Saturday. I tell you, they wouldn't have got up very quickly once I'd
finished with them."
gave his suggestions on how to punish these "Mindless louts". He
sentences: ...."Some of them should never be allowed to walk the
birching...."the current community service punishment is
pathetic", he stormed.
postponements had left Millwall without any practice games, except a
'reserve' friendly at Fisher, who were more than happy to play Millwall. A
Fisher spokesman said: "We don't expect any trouble, most of our fans
are Millwall fans too!"
the bad news off the pitch overshadowed the failure of Graham to land the
striker he had been chasing. Bobby Campbell, whom Graham had been
negotiating for from Bradford City's receivers, elected to join Derby
Count for £65,000 to join up with old boss Roy McFarland.
also revealed "I'm not simply looking for strikers, I'd like to get a
good winger. The main problem is that there aren't too many of them
about." One player Graham ruled out was Ian Stewart, on the transfer
list at QPR, but Graham said he has no hope of raising the necessary cash.
bit of bad news hit Millwall in early August with Millwall being one of
nine club being called before the FA to explain their poor disciplinary
record from last season. It sparked a furious reaction from George Graham.
"You can't tell me the game is any harder than when I played. I'm not
proud of Millwall's record and I impose strict fines on any player booked
or sent off. But I do feel clubs in lower divisions are being harder hit
than need be. You can't tell me that Liverpool or Spurs players tackle any
less fiercely. "
the fact that five of the nine clubs called to book by the FA were from
London, Graham remarked: "At least, if nothing else, it shows that we
are not as soft as Northern clubs say we are....and that's from a
were informed of their punishment at the hearing, a £500 fine.
Evening Standard's regular season preview was usual upbeat report on
Millwall. Under the title 'Proud Millwall set fair for a brand new image'
Michael Hart wrote:
Lands his man
as the time seemed to have run out for signings before the start of the
season, George Graham pulled of a great coup, landing 22 year old right
sided midfielder Steve Lowndes from Newport County for a fee to be decided
by a Transfer tribunal.
values the player at £25,000, but Newport have set his value at £75,000.
Graham said, "I feel £75,000 is a ridiculous figure. But he is a
good player. I'm very impressed with him and he will certainly be in
Saturday's team at Brentford." Lowndes, a full Welsh
international, scored 15 goals for Newport last season as they just
missed out on promotion.
Dean White and Dean Neal both suspended opening game at one of the
promotion favourites, Brentford on August 27th, David Martin would be
drafted in as a makeshift striker.
game ended in a 2-2 draw with Brentford talking the lead with a Francis
Joseph goal only to be pegged back by a Jim McNichol own goal, before
Chris Kamara to restore the lead on the stroke of half time. Steve Lowndes
capped fine debut with a fine 65th minute goal as Millwall stormed back in
the second half. The News of the World waxed lyrical about Millwall in
their short report. "Millwall finished the match yesterday as they
ended last season - looking like champions in the making. In the last five
minutes, they had no fewer than four chances to snatch victory but had to
settle for a draw."
was just the start Steve wanted," said Lions Chief George Graham. He
added, "There were so many Millwall fans at the game, it was as if we
were the home team." Brentford boss Fred Callaghan agreed with George
Graham: "Yes Millwall will be among the promotion candidates."
the Bank Holiday Monday Millwall gained sweet revenge over Northampton,
with an easy 3-0 win in the first leg of the League cup First round
at the Den thanks to a second half brace of goals by Nicky Chatterton
after a close range opener by Dave Martin from an Anton Otulakowski
corner. A pleasing factor for Millwall was the crowd of 4,158, was over a
thousand up on last season's cup tie against the cobblers. It wasn't all
smiles for Graham as he berated his new signing Steve Lowndes performance,
"He hardly did anything to impress me".
transfer tribunal returned its verdict on the Lowndes fee, £55,000.
good start continued with a 1-0 win over Plymouth at the Den thanks to an
85th minute winner. The goal came from a Nicky Chatterton corner and a nonchalant back header by Dave Cusack which picked out full back Steve
Lovell's who appeared on the blind side to blast the ball home on the far
was very pleased with Dave Cusack performance: "He had a very sound
game and is very important to us. Even when he got a head injury in the
second half, he bounced back with great determination." Commenting on
the persistent rumours of a move back to Southend, Graham said: "Dave
is a little unsettled here, but as far as I am concerned he's got two more
years on his contract. He's staying with us."
continued their fine form with another home in midweek, 3-2 against
Port Vale in front of a crowd of almost 5,000. Nicky Chatterton scored
another brace and Kevin Bremner made up for howler when he allowed the
ball to run through his legs with goal gaping, with a fine 68th minute
Graham almost stuck with the same side that Port Vale for the trip to
Hull, resisting the temptation to put Dean White straight back in after
suspension, continuing with Paul Robinson playing out of position, but
brought in Peter Wells for Paul Sansome in goal. Millwall were to go
down 5-0, although they hit the woodwork four times. Dean Neal was denied
twice in the first half, once by the post and then by the bar. Anton
Otulakowski headed against the bar 4 minutes before the break and Deano
completed an unwanted hat-trick in the last minute, rattling the bar
said: "This is the first time I have been really disappointed in
these players . There was nothing encouraging about our performances. Our
attitude was wrong. We did a lot of attacking but we didn't do it in the
right way. We were careless about it and left ourselves exposed at the
back too often. I know the players can do better and I'm sure they will
bounce back. Now I have to decide whether to drop one or two players or
keep the same team."
was some good news however when Graham revealed that Dave Cusack had asked
to come off the transfer list, although it begged the question why it
hadn't been mentioned that he was on it in the first place when a move
back to Southend was being rubbished. Graham said: "I'm delighted
Dave has decided he wants to stay. He can be a tower of strength at the
club and it means U can stop worrying about a new centre half."
Graham reveal that Dave was still living in Southend and had found the
lengthy commute and unexpected strain. He added, "Dave is now
thinking of moving closer to the club."
central defender leaving the club though, was former player of the year
Paul Roberts who joined Brentford on a month's loan.
cruised into Round two of the Milk Cup beating Northampton 2-1 in the
second leg at the county ground with goals from Otualkowski (with a diving
header) and a Dean Neal break through the middle to wrap up a 5-1
aggregate win. The team had seen two changes, Wells and Robinson dropped
for Sansome and Dean White. The headline in the local press when the draw
for the second round came out, was "Millwall get the Cream" with
a two legged tie against high flying First Division West Brom.
next league game, saw an impressive 3-1 win over pointless Bournemouth
with a brace of goals from Anton Otualkowski , but was talked out of the
chance of a hat-trick. Anton's first goal was an equaliser three minutes
from the interval, slotting home after keeper Ramsbottom could only parry
a Dean Neal's effort. His second was a 20 yard left foot bullet from a
rolled Chatterton free kick. Anton was then chopped down five minutes from
time for a penalty kick, which Chatterton offered to let Anton take, until
Dean White intervened, insisting that Nicky take it.
was the best professional decision really. It would have been nice to get
a hat-trick - but Nicky's the regular penalty taker." Graham's
comments on the game were short and sweet, "This was the type of game
we were expected to win - but we had to work hard for it."
next fixture was a Friday night away trip to winless Southend, but the Lions would go down 3-2
in a stormy match which saw 4 Lions books and Southend's Steve Phillips
sent off for vicious foul on Steve Lowndes six minutes from time. Anton
Otulakowski had head an equaliser on the stroke of half time, but goals in
the 46th & 53rd minutes had put the Shrimpers 3-1 up. Millwall were
back in it 2 minutes later when Dave Cusack was flattened in the area and
Chatterton stroked home the penalty. Millwall mounted a grandstand finish
but could find no way past on loan Fulham keeper Gerry Peyton who pulled
off a string of great saves.
Graham predictably hit the roof over the Lions defensive display. "We
gave three bad goals away. I'm on the look out for a couple of new players
to strengthen the back line. If I get them we can still have a big say in
the promotion race."
been getting plenty of compliments about the way we play, but we must
start keeping clean sheets away from home."
things weren't going to plan on the field, off it Millwall were having
another crack at the Super Den Scheme with the announcement of a revised
Super Den II Scheme.
chairman Alan Thorne had been in talks with Lewisham Council aimed at
getting the go-ahead for his all-new plans. Thorne said, "I have
completely re-thought the original scheme. The new ideas are now going
through the planning permission stages" He added, "I hope to
have agreement within the next three months."
previous proposals to re-build the Den unveiled by former chairman Len
Eppel in 1979, collapsed when backers Associated Dairies (ASDA) pulled out
two years later.
for the new look
SPORTS CENTRE to be run by Millwall for the public;
SHOPPING facilities housing a superstore and do-it-yourself centre
PARKING for almost 700 cars.
Ilderton Road end of the ground will also be re-built. Thorne explained,
"I have spoken to many supporters and most tell me they prefer to
stand behind the, goals." So the plan is to have terraces at that
end, but they are designed to take seats easily if demand
first major hurdles
is getting the scheme approved by Lewisham's planning committees which
will discuss it on November 15 1983. If Thorne gets the go ahead his next
objective will be to persuade a retail outfit to come in on the scheme. He
is preparing a detailed survey on the commercial possibilities of the area
in an attempt to attract backers. A major stumbling block to the old
scheme was the presence of gas and electricity mains on the site. Under
the former concept these would have cost £750,000 to re-route, but Thorne
says he has devised a new approach which will involve far less expense.
were afoot behind the scenes at Millwall with Graham Hover resigning as
club Secretary and Tony Shaw coming in as the Chief Executive.
away day woes continued, despite twice pegging back Oxford at the Manor,
two late goals sealed a 4-2 win for the home team. George Lawrence was the
man who did the damage scoring the opener and third and decisive goal from
two trademark Oxford corners, Gary Barnett scored they second, with Jones
scoring an injury time 30 yarder. Millwall's two goals were exactly tap
ins either, Lowndes scoring from the edge of the box and Stride,
scored from much further out, his 40 yard free kick taking a deflection on
its way in. George Graham thought the match could easily of ended 7-6 as
Sansome had pulled off a remarkable reflex save from a Steve Biggins close
range header and George Lawrence fluffed a sitter, while Biggins wasted
two more guilt edged chances while Kevin Bremner brought the best out of
Oxford Keeper Hardwick.
was resolute in defence of his defenders saying: "It is the same
defence that did so well for us at the end of last season. Good players
don't become bad ones over the period of a few matches. Once we get this
sorted out we will be all right. We have been playing some very attractive
football and have earned loads of compliments."
home game against Sheffield Utd was to continue Millwall's woes, but they
had only themselves to blame. Anton Otualkowski blasted home a 20
yard free kick to give Millwall a 4th minute lead. A slip by Cusack let in
Trusson, who found Keith Edwards who first shot was parried by the
recalled Peter Wells, but only back to the Blades striker who made no
second mistake. Graham claimed that Edwards was "Five yards
offside" Injuries to Kevin Bremner and David Stride had forced
a reshuffle in the Lions ranks, with Robinson in at left back and utility
man Dave Martin up front. Cusack was penalised for felling Colin Morris
just after half time and Morris picked himself up to score with the spot
kick. However Millwall won a penalty of their own in the 62nd minute
as Dean Neal was brought down and up stepped Nicky Chatterton whose weak
shot was fisted away by Keith Waugh.
said: "I feel really bad about it - it cost us a point. I tried to
place the ball instead of blasting it and didn't hit it very well, You are
always expected to score from a penalty - but it isn't as easy as it
looks" Graham admitted his team had "lost out in midfield",
so his forwards were starved of the ball, while the defence saw rather too
much of it.
Allardyce returned to the country after trying his luck in America and
signed for First Division Coventry. He marked his debut in fine
style with a first minute tackle on Paul Mariner. Bobby Ferguson compared
Sam to "the Butcher of Bilbao" saying "That tackle was
worse than the one on Maradona."
could forget their league worries for the moment as they entertained First
Division High flyers West Brom whose inform strikers, Cryille Regis and
Garry Thompson were leading the goal scoring charts. Chariman Alan Thorne
was hoping for a 10,000 crowd, saying: "The revenue from the tie could
help stop the club from going into deficit this season."
Chatterton felt a surprise could be in store, "This is obviously
going to be a tough match for us, but everyone at the club is really keyed
up." He reckoned that Millwall could surprise West Brom with their
determination and speed. "Players are much quicker to close each
other down in the Third Division than the First. There they tend to stand
off, but we can't afford to do that."
was wearier, but also looking at an upset. "We are going through a
sticky patch at present and this match is a great chance for us to regain
our confidence. Albion are one of the most formidable striking sides in
the First Division, so I expect a real thriller. I don't want to frighten
our players, but the West Brom strikers are a bit special. If we can get
to grips with them we have a chance. At this stage I don't know what my
team will be, but we won't be over-awed by the task. We're hoping for a
10,000 crowd and I wish it wasn't a two leg tie."
Thorne got his wish crowd-wise, 10,721 including England Manager Bobby
Robson turning up to see Millwall run Albion ragged during the first
all started with a bang as Dean Neal scored twice in the first four
minutes. In the 2nd minute Dean scored with an overhead kick inside
the six yard box from a Bremner cross. Two minutes later, he was in the
right place when Cowdrill missed a Lowndes cross to swivel and drive
home. "That was a dream start," said Graham, "after
that we never let them settle." Millwall sealed the first leg win
with an 80th minute freekick from just outside the are won by Dean Neal ,
when Steve Lowndes drove his shot into the bottom corner of the net.
White, newly installed captain couldn't have had a better start to his
reign, as he had Albion on the run for most of the first half. Chatterton
impressed also playing as if a great weight had been lifted from his
shoulders. According to Michael Hart of the Standard he was Millwall's
busiest and most effective competitor in midfield that held its shape,
challenged for for every half chance and distributed the ball
was delighted but not carried away; "It nice to take on the big boys
from Division One and win," He smiled, "But to be honest, I
would far rather we won our Division Three games - starting against
Burnley on Sunday."
the good start we had I suspect some of our lads felt they had only to
pull on their boots to win promotion. Well I think three successive
defeats has taught them a lesson. Their attitude last night was
outstanding. I expect total commitment from any player that pulls on a
Millwall shirt and they gave me that."
had the classier players, but we bustled and outfought them. I thought our
back four handled Cyrille Regis and Garry Thompson magnificently."
on the switch of captaincy before the game, Graham said: "I think he
(Dean White) imposes his personality on the game more than Nicky."
goal hero Dean Neal Said: "I set myself such high standards last year
that they are have been hard to live up to. But I've created a lot of
goals for other players. It was fantastic to beat a team like West Brom
and beat them well. It's not as if our goals came from breakaways. The
crowd were fantastic - they gave us a real lift."
South London Press waxed lyrical about Millwall's win.
display had been a triumph of industry over artistry. The midfield
motto had been - if it moves tackle it - as the Lions denied West
Brom time to settle. And in suffocating a side used to plenty of poise on
the ball, the tactic proved deadly. It fulfilled an outstanding prediction
by midfield man Nicky Chatterton that Millwall's all-action style could be
the key to unlocking Albion.
played with a passion inspired by a raucous crowd that loudly disputed
decisions when even a throw in went to West Brom. Albion could be forgiven
for feeling that they were playing far more than 11 men as the Lions
covered mistakes and redeemed blunders.'
match had profound effect on English football. Bobby Robson had been in
two minds as to whether to adopt a 'Blood and Guts' English style for the
international team as his instincts told him or whether to adopt a more
continental style. England had been humbled by the Danish at Wembley a
couple of weeks before, playing a halfway house style, but adopted the
English style for the clash with Hungary at the Nep Stadium and saw the
English team responded with a 3-0 win and finest English performance for
admitted; "I was inspired myself before the game in Hungary by
Watford's remarkable performance against the German's of Kaiserlautern and
yes, even Millwall's conviction when I saw them beat West Bromich in the
Milk Cup. We never gave Hungary even a split second on the ball. We played
just like an English club side and to me that is a tremendous compliment
to the players. Our way of playing in England is to deny the opposition
time in which to operate. That has got to be right for us as well even if
you are playing Argentina or Brazil."
gate receipts from the Milk Cup first leg tie were reveal as £26,000, of
which The Football League take four percent and Millwall and West Brom
Brom split the rest.
only cloud in Millwall's silver lining was on the injury front. The pulled
hamstring injury to Micky Nutton which forced him off on the hour mark
would keep him out for a while. Dean White was carry on playing in spite
of a groin strain, while David Stride had missed the cup tie with his
groin and stomach strain.
Otualkowski was in confined in Brooke Hospital in Woolwich, ordered to
have a complete rest for his injured back. His wife Carol said, "He
went in on Friday and I've been told he has a slipped disc. He is in quite
a lot of pain and cannot walk."
said: The doctors have told him he must have a complete rest. I hope he
will be out of hospital in the next few days. He will have missed a lot of
training, so there is very little chance of him being fit enough to come
straight back into the side."
Roberts returned to the Den at the end of his Brentford loan spell as
Brentford refused to pay a small fee wanted by Graham to keep him
bumper crowd of 6,709 turned up on Sunday to see the Lions beat fancied
Burnley two- nil thanks to a David Stride free kick from the edge of the
penalty area which took a slight deflection of Brian Flynn and screamed
into the top corner and Dean Neal goal from Steve Lovell long throw
flicked on by Dave Cusack.
who had spent four years out of the English game in America after his
£90,000 move from Chelsea to Memphis, and subsequent played for
Minnesota, Fort Lauderdale and Jacksonville.
was lacking a bit of match practice. I was happy to get through the game
without making any mistakes and by playing at my own pace. The goal was a
nice bonus for me. I've been out of the English game for a while, so I
feel I've still got something to prove to the manager," said Stride,
whose contract runs out in the summer.
Graham was pleased, "It was real professional performance. Our
strikers Neal and Bremner found time to defend and Chatterton had a fine
match. Stride wasn't fully fit, but he came up with a goal. I know that
practising free-kicks in training is monotonous, but we've been working on
that free kick for weeks and its paying off. I told the lads to be
patience against Burnley who are a good side who have a lot of players
with great potential. We did a good job on them and I was pleased with