Monday, January 14, 2019
Even the heading for this – Millwall Away – conjures up an adventure, a sense of danger that any football fan will relate to. We were as far away from any of that as we ate artisan snacks in Borough Market before the game, sharing stories with friends old and new in the Market Porter.
Yes, I was delighted to see Rovers win, I always am. But it reminded me of many of the games last season where I felt we were a better footballing side, but had that slight doubt we might not be physically strong enough and could come away empty handed (Walsall, Northampton, Oldham).
Sure, Rovers contributed to the dire game; lots of mistakes, hoofing up to Bradley Dack (who was off the pace) and Joe Nuttall (who needs match practice), no shots on target until the bitter end and some pointless passing around. But I always take something from a game and for me it was the solid defensive pair of Darragh Lenihan and Jack Rodwell, and once again the role of Lewis Travis in picking out some terrific forward passes and properly mixing it when required.
What will live with me longer in the memory though was the experience of visiting The Den. I went to their old ground a couple of times, even meeting Jack Walker outside on the second occasion and getting a quote from him for the Lancashire Evening Post. I didn’t meet anyone like that this time but Matt Smith (Doctor Who) was stood just behind us. Such is the mythology around Millwall that I did vaguely consider asking him for a lift out of there if he had his blue phone box with him. I’m not going to lie, it is intimidating, it is grim. Everything about getting to the stadium; the heavy police presence, the cages guiding the walkway to the stadium, the fact visiting fans are placed only in the upper tier all create the feeling of being in a state of siege. That in turn encourages a certain type of swaggering dickhead among visitors and ours were no different. We also saw a gang of Dutch lads at London Bridge earlier in the afternoon, and I spoke to another group of PSV Eindhoven fans on the train from South Bermondsey. I doubt there’d be the same attraction for this kind of football tourist to go to Brentford or Charlton.
That makes it another new ground I’ve watched football on, the 158th. I’m on 84 clubs out of the current 92 clubs (the Punk 92), and I’m up to 80 of the current 92 grounds.