Despite his recent fall from favour at The Den, goalkeeper Maik Taylor’s contract signature was one of Kenny Jackett’s more welcome pieces of close-season business. At the ripe old age of 41 however, Maik becomes one of the oldest players ever to wear the Millwall shirt. A silver Lion you might say. We compiled this short list of older Lions of recent times as a piece of fun, but do any club historians know of any older players who’ve played for us? Please do let us know:
Nigel Spink (GK) – born 1958 and played for Millwall 1997-2000. His final start in goal for the Lions came away to Wigan Athletic (15.01.00) in a 1-1 draw at the age of 41. Famously Spink won a European Cup winners medal with Aston Villa in the 1982 final, when first choice keeper Jimmy Rimmer was injured 10 minutes into the game. After Millwall, Spink worked as a goalkeeping coach at West Bromwich Albion before being appointed manager of non-league Forest Green Rovers in 2000. He left in 2002 and has since struck up a strong friendship with Steve Bruce, acting as goalkeeper coach under Bruce at Birmingham City, Wigan Athletic and Sunderland. Spinky is presently working at Bristol City in the same role.
Maik Taylor (GK) – born in 1971, 41 year old Maik signed a full contract with Millwall during the summer having made his Lions debut at home to Southampton in a 2-3 defeat – when on loan from Leeds (17.03.12). Born in the former West Germany, his British passport enabled him to play for any of the four home nations. He chose Northern Ireland.
Dennis Wise (MC) – born in 1966, the 38 year-old Wise played his final game in a Millwall shirt in the home 0-0 draw v Burnley on 08.05.05. The kind of player that you either love or hate, he managed the Lions during the semi-miraculous FA Cup final run of 2004. For that and the Mothers Day massacre of West Ham that year, we salute Wisey – and always will.
Richard Shaw (DC) – born 1968, Shawsy played his final game in the blue shirt in the 1-2 defeat at Swindon of 03.05.08 – this at the age of 39. Player of the Year in 2006-07, he overcame huge handicaps to to complete his professional career as a truly popular figure at The Den. Not the least of which being the 193 games he played for Crystal Palace. The circumstances of his departure from Zampa Road remain shrouded in mystery, one can only presume what the music business always describes as ‘artistic’ differences with Kenny Jackett. His short spell in co-charge of League One Coventry came to an abrupt end a fortnight ago with his sacking from the Ricoh Stadium.
John Jackson (GK) – born 1942, Jackson signed for Millwall in the dark days of the George Petchey regime of 1979. A former Palace and then Orient stalwart, Jackson always looked to be over 100 years old to my youthful eye. In fact he was 39 when he played his final match for Millwall – a 1-0 away win at Huddersfield (11.04.81) – a very solid keeper for us overall. He now lives in Brighton, has installed and fitted blinds, been a goalkeeping coach for both Brighton and the Sussex FA School of Excellence, worked for a golf magazine; sold golf equipment and worked as a courier for Lewes Council!
Steve Claridge (SC) – born 1966, Claridge signed as emergency striking cover during Mark McGhee’s promotion push of 2001. Arguably one of the best bargains ever made by Millwall, his goals during the 2001-02 season won him the Player of the Year award. His final game as a Lion came at the age of 37 in a 2-0 home win over Coventry (04.05.03). Manager of the month July 2005, he is a regular television pundit for the BBC.
Mel Blyth (DC) – born 1944, ‘Legs’ Blyth was another Palace afflicted signing made under the ill-fated Petchey regime in 1979. An FA Cup winner with Southampton, having moved there from Selhurst chasing glory, my memories of Blyth are few. His last game in the Millwall shirt came at the age of 37 at home v Chesterfield in a 0-2 defeat.
Barry Kitchener (DC) – born 1947, Kitch is arguably THE Lions legend of all time with 595 starting appearances. A record that probably will never be equalled. Kitch’s last match in the blue shirt of Millwall was seven months shy of 35 in a 1-2 away defeat at Plymouth on 15.05.82. Kitch’s sad passing earlier this year remains a raw blow to all Millwall fans.
Alan McLeary (DC) – born 1964, ‘Macca’ was never a blood-and-thunder type of defender, more your elegant stroller – always a difficult act to pull off in front of Millwall fans. Macca nevertheless made 392 starts for the Lions, gained England youth and ‘B’ honours and jointly managed the club with Keith Stevens 1998-00. His last game as Lion was at home to Reading in a 1-1 draw (12.12.98) at the age of 34.
The Archbishop (aged 52)