WELCOME HOME: O'Callaghan ends injury nightmare

O'Callaghan celebrated his eagerly awaited return to the Den with a home-coming-party the Roy of the Rovers script writers would have been proud of.

O'Callaghan, an £80,000 summer signing from Portsmouth
missed the whole of Millwall’s pre-season preparations with
a stomach strain and a hamstring injury. But the 25-year-old
midfielder, who kicked off his career as an apprentice at
Millwall before joining Ipswich for a cool £250,000 was
determined to he fit in time to face his old club.

And in the best tradition of these things O'Callaghan,
silenced, the " Ipswich reject" taunts from the visiting
supporters end, by setting up Millwall's first goal and then
wrapping up the points with a late penalty.

"It has been very frustrating for me and for the manager
because he spent quite a lot of money on me and I was
hoping to be able to repay him," explained O'Callaghan.

“He's been great about it though, he told me to keep my
head up, and it was certainly nice to start with a goal. I
didn't really expect to be given the penalty in my first game."

"A couple of the other lads fancied 'their chances and I
wasn't going to argue with them but the order came from the
dug out for me to take it, and I didn't need to be told twice."

"I always seem to do well against my old clubs - perhap
Millwall should consider loaning me out to a few other
teams! I got a couple when I came back to Millwall with
Ipswich and then at the start of last season I scored for
Portsmouth against Ipswich. It must he something of a
lucky omen for me.

"I'm not match-fit yet but although I was struggling a bit with
my breathing after 20 minutes towards the end I felt fine and
there should he no problem for Wednesday night's game - if
I'm selected!

O'Callaghan seems certain to retain his place for the testing
trip to Manchester City but it remains to be seen whether
George Lawrence, who is on a course of antibiotics for his
stomach infection, will recover in time to play.

PRIDE IS BACK WITH THE LIONS

John Morgan reports how a new look brings the roar back to The Den

FINGS ain't what they used to be down at The Den in Cold Blow Lane.

The old place has been given a lick of paint the office refurbished,
Millwall has got a new look team and the supporters, in ever
increasing numbers, are behaving themselves. And you can put it
down to "Little Doc".

John Docherty, the 5ft 5in Millwall manager smiles at the nickname,
but agrees that like "The Doc” a fellow Glaswegian Tommy
Docherty, he is determined to go places taking Millwall with him.

He smiles at the suggestion that he has splashed more money on
building the new Millwall team than the collective spending of all
the managers who went before him at The Den.

"What happened," he explains, “is that we knew the players we
wanted and trailed them for months. It just happened that they all
became available within weeks.” 

So into the club have come: Tony Cascarino (£220,000, from
Gillingham); Kevin O'Callaghan, (£80,000, from Portsmouth);
Steve Wood, (£80,000, from Reading); George Lawrence (£160,000,
from Southampton); and Terry Hurlock (£95,000 from Reading). 

That adds up to a £635,000 spending spree. "Is that all?" he says,
indicating that if more is needed then more would be found. 

“It may seem a lot of money by Millwall standards, but that is just
the way it worked out. Everything came together at the same time.” 

“I had seven years at Cambridge and I always thought they were the happiest of my life.”

“I came here from Brentford with a certain amount of trepidation,
but after a month I knew that Millwall was the place for me.

"All I had read about the Millwall supporters proved to be
nonsense. They are the friendliest bunch in the game.

And Docherty is determined to reward those fans "Anybody makes
prophesies in this game is asking for trouble,” he says cautiously

“All I will say is that this is the strongest squad of players I have
worked with. I am, as they say, quietly confident.”

“Leave us alone and let us get on with the job. And if the customers
keep coming, then I know we will have had an enjoyable season.”

 

Lions attack

MILLWALL are still the only London side never to have played
in the First Division.

But this season they have their best chance yet of losing that
unwanted record. Lions boss John Docherty spent half a million
pounds to bring five new faces to The Den during the summer
and his side's early season form seems to he proving that it was
money well spent.

"There is a lot of ambition and a desire to do well within this club,"
says Docherty. "We are confident of having a successful season."

"Our fans have suffered over the years but we are aiming to put
that right this year." The board at Millwall have shown their faith
in Docherty by making money available and with that capital he
has injected new life into the Dockland club.

'Signings'

The arrival of George Lawrence (Southampton), Steve Wood
(Reading), Wesley Raid (Arsenal) and Kevin O'Callaghan
(Portsmouth) all whetted the appetite of the footballing public in
South London, but the biggest coup was the capture of Republic
of Ireland international striker Tony Cascarino from Gillingham.

"Tony was one of the easiest signings I've ever made," reveals
Docherty. "He simply wanted to come and play for Millwall. 

At the eleventh hour there were bids for his signature from Aston
Villa and Ipswich but he had made up his mind."

Cascarino's commitment to his new club is another indication
of the belief in Docherty's ability to take Millwall into the top flight.
But the new confidence at The Den has not just come about because of Cascarino's arrival.

"Last year we were very prudent." explains Docherty, "We cut the
squad down and persevered with a young side who learned a great
deal as a result. The only major signing we made was Terry Hurlock
last March and even that was in preparation for this season.

"Last term we were a very hard side to beat. Now that we have
added more strike power hopefully we will he able to carry
the game to other sides more."

Millwall chairman Reg Burr has pledged more money if necessary.
"If you are as serious about promotion as we are then you have to
back it all the way. If the manager requires another signing then
the money is there," he says. "The atmosphere at the club is terrific
and our gates are improving all the time."

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