CBL Magazine – First World War centenary

“If I should die, think only this of me: that there’s some corner of a foreign field that is for ever England.” Rupert Brooke (1887-1915)

One hundred years ago this month, Great Britain declared war on Germany. So beginning the catastrophe that we nowadays call the First World War. A century on, this edition of CBL Magazine is dedicated to all of those who lost their life in that almighty conflict. Profits from this edition will therefore benefit our own Jimmy Mizen Foundation based in Hither Green and the Albert Schweitzer Kinderdorf in Waldenburg, Germany. This being our small attempt to point the way to a better future for all of our kids and being something that we hope those who fought would have approved of.

There are four names carried on the official Millwall plaque at The Den and this article is based on one sent to us by Jon Watts (Hereford / Corfu Lion) when we went under the NOLU title. It is our privilege to be able to re-publish it, both in honour of our own Millwall players and supporters who fought, but also all who did so. Wherever they came from and whichever flag they fought for.

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2nd Lieutenant Joseph Dines

13th Liverpool Regiment. Born Kings Lynn, 12 April 1886. Killed by machine gun fire in Pas de Calais on the Western Front, 27 September 1918, aged 32. Buried Grand Ravine British Cemetery, Havrincourt. Grave number A.42.

Played 27 games for England’s amateur side and won a football gold medal at the 1912 Olympic games. Dines, known as “The Smiling Footballer”, worked in Kings Lynn as a school teacher before moving to Essex. He began his playing career in local football before spells with Norwich City Reserves and Woolwich Arsenal Reserves. He made his amateur debut for England against Wales in 1910 and was a regular in the pre-war England team. He also played international matches in the Olympic series, winning a gold medal.

He was playing for Millwall when he responded to a call for additional store men in the Army Ordnance Corps and joined up at as a private at Woolwich on 29 November 1915. After serving in Northampton and Chatham he was transferred to the Machine Gun Corps and posted to Grantham to train on ‘tanks’. He wanted a commission in the Tank Corps and although he was already a qualified musketry instructor, his assessor felt he needed additional experience to develop his leadership skills, therefore he was discharged to a commission in the Liverpool Regiment on 25 June1918 and posted to the 51st Graduated Battalion a month later. Promoted to Lieutenant, he finally arrived in France on 16 September1918 and was killed a month later – just six weeks before the end of the war.

Private James “Jack” Williams

17th Middlesex Regiment (The Footballers’ Battalion). Born in Buckley, Flintshire, May 1884. Reported missing presumed dead on 5 June 1916, aged 32. Capped twice for Wales.

Williams was variously known as James, John, Jack and Ginger Williams. (As a footballer, the player’s first name is generally recorded as James. However, confusion has arisen about his name and it seems possible that his birth was registered under the name John, hence that name appearing on his military service record.) He was a prolific scorer in junior football and played non-league football for Bury and Accrington Stanley before impressing on trial with Second Division club Birmingham. Williams signed for them in August 1908 and made his debut on 7 September, playing at inside left in a 3–1 win at home to Bradford. He was given a decent run of games in the starting eleven but failed to impress and returned to Accrington Stanley in February 1909.

In the 1909 close season he moved to Crystal Palace, then in the Southern League. With Palace his best position was centre forward or inside right, though he was capable of playing in any forward role. Described as “an eager, neat and busy little footballer who possessed a snappy tackle and plenty of enthusiasm and determination”, he scored 58 goals from 149 appearances in all competitions, including scoring five in one match against Southend United in September 1909. Williams remained with the club for nearly five seasons, during which time he won two caps for Wales, making his international debut in the 1912 British Home Championship against Scotland at Tynecastle on 2 March 1912. Wales lost 1–0. His second cap came in a 3–2 defeat at Ninian Park against Ireland in the same competition.

In February 1914 he joined Millwall, also playing in the Southern League, and remained with the club for about a year before enlisting in the 17th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment (The Footballers’ Battalion) and serving in northern France. He was reported missing presumed dead on 5 June 1916 and is commemorated on the Arras Memorial.

Private Charles Edward Green

17th Middlesex Regiment (The Footballers’ Battalion). Killed in action 28 April 1917, aged 35.

Played at right back for Millwall during the war competitions 1915-17.

Private George “Reg” Porter

18th Middlesex Regiment. Killed in action 14 July 1918, aged 26. Played for the Lions 1913-15 making just two appearances in the Southern League.

Two other Millwall players survived the war. Sergeant William “Bill” Voisey of the Royal Field Artillery who was decorated for bravery under fire; and Wally Davis, a Welsh international who made 114 appearances before the war, scoring 67 goals. An ankle wound meant he couldn’t play again and he was found drowned in mysterious circumstances on 20 May 1937.

“Their names liveth for ever more”

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Tribute to Jes Holden: World Cup 2010 article from NOLU

Jes SA World Cup copy

Everybody knows us, we’re called Millwall

Driving around South Africa with a Millwall flag.

Even by our usual standards we’d arrived early. The Rustenburg match kicked off at 8.30 we expected traffic management to be a total disaster. We arrived so early that the security cordon was not yet operating. We arrived so early we had nine hours to kill before kick-off. A few minutes walk from the stadium is Lucky’s, the sort of rural shebeen that my brother’s friends in Joburg say you shouldn’t go near. But was was the nearest bar, and it might have been the only bar, so off we went.

Lucky is big and jovial, very happy to sell us some BIG bottles of Castle for 70p. He was even happier to see the flag rolled up under my arm. ‘Put it up outside’ he said, ‘then maybe some more English will come here.’ Fair enough, I thought, and we tied it up under a thatched roof structure in the front of the car park.

More England started drifting in, Lucky kept us supplied with free beers, everybody got a bit pissed. Quite a lot of people wanted a photograph standing next to the Millwall flag – most of them asked it it was OK and some of them bought us beers to. Along the bottom of my flag I’ve added the games that it has been to, from England games around the world to the big Millwall games at Old Trafford, Cardiff and Wembley. It gives it a powerful ju-ju.

Later on in the stadium I was talking with Brett, a friend of a friend of my brother’s. He’d lived in Mitcham for a couple of years and been to the Den a few times in the 2001-02 season. He reckoned that most of the Americans around us thought that Green Street was close to a documentary. A few minutes later he proved it. He was talking with a small bunch from New Jersey and introduced me to them. ‘This is Fester, he’s from London. He’s from Millwall.’ Whoosh, all gone. We tried it again and again just to make sure.

Some blokes from Delaware wanted to fight. Some more from California wanted to talk about the background to the film. They all seem to have watched it as part of their trip-planning.

The next day my brother was on his way back to the UK and I had his car for the long drive to Cape Town. I was to meet him five days later at the Waterfront and had plenty of time to drive the length of South Africa and get lost a few times on the way. Flag in the back window, and off I go.

My first stop in Krugersdorp involved conversations about the Boer War and the Voortrekkers that created the Orange Free State and much of central South Africa. Next day I headed for Norvals Pont, where it has been suggested I might find a bit of history. Eight hours later I arrived at the Glasgow Pont Hotel, and 1850’s built bar, trading post and hotel that had once been the only place to get a raft across the Orange River. It was also where the British built the first Concentration Camp during the Boer War, to detain the families of the guerillas that were attacking them.

Johhny Britz walked over before I’d got my bag out of the car. ‘Hey, English! You really a tough guy?’ He nodded his head at the flag I was taking out of the car. ‘You need some help with that?’ (No thanks) ‘These people don’t like you English much.’ (really?) ‘You’ll be OK though.’ (good) You in the bar later? (probably) You wanna know about this place (er… yes) I’m a tour guide sometimes (OK) I’ll see you later (er… OK).

He did come over to the bar later and he was quite right. One of the people staying at the hotel was just like the angry Scots you sometimes meet that make hating the English a way of life. He hated me for being English, he hated Johhny Britz for being the wrong colour, he hated the blokes that owned the hotel for being environmental liberals. He wasn’t a happy man.

I sat in the bar later with the environmental hippies and their wives, Johhny, a fat, happy woman called Corrine and talked Boer War, South African politics and English football. Louis the hippie hadn’t just seen Green Street but ‘Football Factory’ too. “Funny how its always your guys.’

The next morning was spent getting lost around the Gariep Dam and nature reserve and almost running out of petrol in the middle of nowhere, the a short drive to Beaufort West, which is as near to a wild west frontier town as you’re likely to find. The Oasis Hotel is a dump that was last decorated in 1962. It really was like stepping back into my childhood. It was bitterly cold, -10C later, with no central heating or fireplaces.

The only slightly warm room was the bar and as I walked in the other guest raised their glasses in chilly solidarity. One group was sitting with a Ghana flag across their shoulders trying to extract a little warmth from it.

 ‘Millwall’ said one of them. ‘Proper team, no nonsense. Saw your flag when you came in.’

Later we all got drunk on Castle and Amarula and watch a forgettable match on TV. The Ghana blokes knew more about lower league English football than I do, which might mean that there’s not much to do in downtown Accra.

Next day I headed into Cape Town. By late afternoon the hotels were all full so I ran down the coast to Hout Bay, a sort of Hampstead-on-sea for some of Cape Town’s very wealthy. I checked into a fabulous B&B overlooking the harbour as an antidote to the Oasis the night before.

In a fish restaurant overlooking the harbour a young bloke put a beer down for me and invited himself to sit down. He’d lived in the East End until last year and recognised the blue shirt. His punk band had some club nights coming up and he wanted to know if I thought the England support might turn up for night of punk/thrash. Half an hour later I realised he probably knows my daughter – he certainly knew quite a few of her friends. Small world again.

Next day in Cape Town I met up with David and I wandered off to the V&A Waterfront while he checked his email and got back to work. Outside Steers, South Africa’s version of Burger King, I got into conversation with three wine growers from Paarl. ‘That striker of yours. The one with the head bandage. He looks good.’ I thought he meant Stuart Pearce in Italy 20 years ago. ‘No, your boy.’ He pointed at my shirt. And suddenly I realised that they has seen Millwall on TV. He meant Steve Morison.

The play off semis and final were shown on TV. The semi at our place was voted the game of the week and was repeated several times. The wine growers kept on about the noise, the crowd and the commitment of the whole team. ‘Not like those poofs in the Premiership,’ as one of them put it.

The England match put a dampener on the rest of the day and the Waterfront was subdued when we got back there later. Someone saw my shirt and started a ‘Miiiiiiiiiiiiiiii’ in my direction but didn’t get close enough to speak with. David and I spent a couple of days doing not much and headed off towards Port Elizabeth. At an overnight in Knysna we split some beers with some Geordies who weren’t really looking forward to next season. One of them reckoned entertaining us and Leeds would be more fun than Liverpool and Arsenal, though apparently Stoke are still up for it.

Port Elizabeth is a bit crap. The city itself is ‘financially challenged’ and there aren’t enough hotel beds for a stadium-full of visitors. Summerstrand was full and even the backpackers hostels were charging £80 for a bedspace. Eventually we found rooms at a Conference Centre.

Next day was match day, so we did the Park and Walk thing and got to the stadium eight hours before kick-off. Again. We found a café in a garage and put the flag into an area that TV crews were using as a backdrop to their interviews. I hope the woman from Brazil didn’t catch a chill.

As usual, the flag attracted people, including some Leeds, a small crew from Portsmouth and Paul, the chairman of Cambridge United. Nice bloke, as it goes. Another mostly disappointing game and at full time the long drive back to Joburg; my flight was the following afternoon.

So what did I learn from the trip? I learnt that football-watching world have seen Green Street, and while appreciating that its a pile of poo they seem to think that our part is genuine enough. I learnt not to get pissed with people from Ghana unless you really want to feel like you’ve died and gone to hell. I learnt that Amarula might be made from elephant shit. I learnt that Millwall is respected as a proper football club, not just for our reputation.

And I learnt that wherever I go, people have heard of Millwall and despite what we sing, they seem to quite like us.

Fester

RIP Jes – a true friend to Millwall FC and everyone that knew him.

jes football copy

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A World Cup Life

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So here we nearly are. Yes in just twelve days’ time, the FIFA World Cup 2014 unfolds in Brazil.

Yes, four years have passed (unbelievably) since the South Africa tournament in 2010. Coincidentally the same period roughly since Milllwall’s ‘Triumph at Wembley’, how time flies. Both seem only yesterday – and this serves to reinforce a personal theory of mine that your life is measured in football. With Millwall of course, the landmarks are fewer and further between, so the comparisons are harder to link. But the World Cup (especially) provides a four-yearly measure both of the evolution of the worldwide monster that is modern football, but also of my life and its major events.

The World Cup famously began in Uruguay in 1930. Minus the then dominant Home Nations. The brainchild of FIFA President Jules Rimet, the tournament had evolved by the year of my birth in 1960 very roughly into the modern football world championships that we know today. For the first two World Cups of my life in Chile 1962 and England 1966, I have no memory whatsoever.

Clearly at the age of two, the Chilean tournament meant nothing to me. Andy Pandy and Little Ted being more important figures in my life. The same applies to the sole English win in 1966 – of which I cannot remember a thing. At five years old, my main attention was focused on my first reading book called ‘Here We Go’ at Castlecombe School , Mottingham. Yes I have the vaguest sense of seeing a kids’ cartoon depiction of Bobby Moore on the shoulders of Geoff Hurst and Ray Wilson, the Jules Rimet Trophy aloft – but that really is it for England’s finest hour since 1940 for me. Sorry, I feel i should remember more.

By the time that the classic Mexico 1970 tournament came along, my interest in football was starting to increase. The kids in my class were all ‘supporters’ of the big clubs of the day: Leeds, Manchester United and Liverpool (basically anyone who won stuff and got on the telly) – and I was no exception.

The main problem as I recall with Mexico ’70, was that perhaps one of the most colourful football events in soccer history had to be watched in glorious black and white in our council house. We didn’t get a colour TV until 1972 and my first memory of this new viewing sensation was not Pele’s famous shimmy, Gordon Banks’ miracle save nor Carlos Alberto’s shot, but a presenter called Michael Barrett on the early evening BBC 1 local news round-up called ‘Nationwide’.

The first real World Cup finals that I took an active interest in and can remember most vividly was the West German competition of 1974. A Millwall supporter now and aged 13 heading to 14 when the finals took place (of course without England), the brilliance of the German television images, the orange shirts of the incredible Johann Cruyff driven Dutch side and the penalty in the first minute final all serve to make this my own personal favourite tournament.

By now attending Cooper’s Secondary School in Chislehurst, I was starting to tread the ‘outsider’ path of life that has never truly left me. All of my council estate mates from school went to Kemnal Manor. But because i was deemed ‘bright’, I was sent to Cooper’s. Only a few kids from the Mottingham Estate achieved this so called honour – and I was one. So an unhealthy sense of being the odd one out in a sea of middle class suburban kids found its outlet in admiring anything that wasn’t conventional. From punk rock through to Millwall, I have ever aftwerwards always wanted to be your underdog …

Marginally just behind 1974, the Argentine 1978 tournament comes in a very close second in my list of all-time favourite World Cups. By now working as a low-level Civil Servant handling the department’s cleaning service overtime claims, my life stretched away before me. All with the sure knowledge that, if I did my time as a Clerical Assistant, then in a few years I could become a Clerical Officer and one day (perhaps), make it to Executive Officer level. Wow. Forget about anything higher though, as you needed a ‘degree’ for that. So know your place matey boy.

The world championships played out in the Latin American winter seemed to provide a glimpse of a higher life. One where long-haired mustachioed men entered arenas to ticker-tape receptions and a maelstrom of noise. Vividly colourful, Argentina 1978 was, as we now know, a military dictatorship’s wet dream as the home nation marched (or bribed) its way into a final, once more against the Dutch. Possibly the greatest World Cup final? Holland went achingly close to tearing up the script by hitting the post in injury time at 1-1. Of course goals from Kempes and Luque won it 3-1 in the end for Argentina.

 

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By the time Spain 1982 came along, I found myself ‘going steady’ and set on the path of marriage, mortgage and kids that would surely follow. Football, both at The Den and on TV was having to take second place to the god-awful mundanity of ‘saving for a deposit’ and the dullness of my life vision at that point. As an aside, our nation also found itself at war with the 1978 World champions Argentina whom I had admired. All over the illegal seizure of the Falkland Islands that same year. So in perhaps one of the oddest football tournaments ever, England entered with troops fighting in the South Atlantic and Ron Greenwood was stuck with the task of ensuring that, if we couldn’t win the thing, that we didn’t humiliate ourselves either. In war, morale is something real. And given the benefit of hindsight, I wonder whether that didn’t serve to drive his defensive approach.

Originally scheduled to be played in Colombia, that nation was forced for economic reasons to withdraw in Mexico’s favour for the 1986 event. England managing to produce an insipid group stage that in fairness deserved as much success as Millwall did last season. As it was, a 0-0 draw and a decisive 3-0 victory over Poland propelled us into the knock-out phase – and a landmark quarter-final against Argentina. This just four short years after the conclusion of the Falklands conflict, which of course was a decisive British victory. The combination of Maradona’s ‘hand of God’ and his sublime skill undid us. But the English did come achingly close to equalising late in the game as memory serves.

By 1990 the world of marriage, mortgages and babies had taken their toll – and divorce loomed in my life. The Italia ’90 tournament was in many ways the first ‘modern’ World Cup in the sense of fully modernised stadia, iconic classical music theme and as close as England may ever come to repeating the 1966 win. Another turgid group phase and at times fortunate progression to the semi-final stage to face another cataclysmic match with the (now unified) Germans. A 1-1 draw in real time, Gazza’s tears and Waddle hitting the post, leading up to the now infamous 3-4 penalty shoot out loss. Probably this was the last World Cup that I truly enjoyed. After this, everything seemed to get ever more corporate, ever more disparate – and ever more bland. Maybe I was disillusioned generally.

The 1990s were a strange time in my personal life. In many ways I did my living during my thirties, where my twenties were more weighed down with responsibility. So the 1994 World Cup in the USA passed me by. Completely. I was probably away in Corfu, Ibiza or some sun-soaked idyll at the time. I can’t add anything of any note about the tournament apart from Diana Ross trying to take a penalty. Which summed the whole artificiality of it all up.

So best move on to 1998. Less of France ’98 passed me by than the USA tournament. By now I was heading back toward the comforts of settled marital life – but hadn’t quite made it yet. Consequently my overwhelming memory of the 1998 FIFA World Cup stems from the first knock-out round of 16 against Argentina. A fighting 10 man 2-2 draw against our newest old enemies Argentina, followed by the now inevitable penalty shoot out defeat. All drunkenly viewed on the big screen at the King Edward VII pub in the yet to be revitalised Stratford (don’t ask how I finished up there, I really couldn’t tell you).

The 2002 Japan-Korea World Cup was played with morning kick-off times on UK television. An unearthly hour to be packing out boozers, but that is what happened all across the country. By now mortgaged up to the eyeballs courtesy of Northern Rock, I caught England’s quarter-final 1-2 defeat to Brazil on some work-provided screens over pastries and juice, before making a late 9.30am start to the day. Football should not involve such sanitised ingredients. And any sense of disappointment went out of the office window by lunchtime.

By 2006 my life was (finally) taking its modern, happy form. I had met my wife, things were coming together generally and the German World Cup ran to a timetable even more efficient than the Berlin U-Bahn. Once more quarter-finalists, this time against Portugal, England out in yet another disappointing display to lose out in the ensuing penalty shoot-out. If I am honest, the modern football world was starting to mean less and less to me, as my personal life became settled. Increasingly I found it hard to care about the multi-millionaires purporting to play with the three lions on their shirt. Thanks to the Premier League for that. Why not, it gets the blame for everything else? 

What’s that? You want a happy ending to my life story? Why of course, we got married, found true happiness and are living together happily ever after to this day.

Aw shucks.

The Archbishop

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Jes Holden – RIP

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On behalf of CBL Magazine I am very sad to report the recent loss of Jes Holden.

Jes was a very good friend to me both personally and via The Lions Trust. He did a huge amount of unsung work for the club and, as many can vouch, for his fellow Millwall fans too.

He made his living in advertising, mostly on behalf of small to medium sized businesses – some charities too. Indeed most of the brochures, adverts and publicity for Millwall in the last ten years or so would have been designed by him. Sometimes he even got paid for the work too – mostly not. He wouldn’t chase his invoices, not if his business was ok and he was doing alright. A truly generous man who wanted nothing but for Millwall FC to succeed.

Very much a ‘bon viveur’, Jes enjoyed good food, good drink and good company. A regular at the Cheltenham Festival as well as England matches (home and away), there was nothing that he loved more than the buzz of such major sporting occasions – and the myriad personalities that came with them.

Trained in Fine Arts, Jes could equally as well talk to you about paintings, sculpture and ‘multi media’, as Leeds away in the 80s and the Lewisham riot of ’77. He took pleasure in it all.

My abiding memory of him will be of a man who really could walk with kings and tinkers, yet stay the same with both.

His range of contacts was quite incredible and he was a rare, rare talent.

Three Jes stories to close this short tribute:

1 – his account of driving the length and breadth of South Africa in 2010 and stopping off in all the places that the Foreign Office advised against. His story of pulling up in a 4×4 in a township somewhere off a dusty highway toward Rustenburg and going into a shebeen as the only white face there, ‘The locals thought I must be either police or mafia connected to do such a mad thing’ he told me. ‘I had a great night though and the car was untouched’

2- his drunken escapade in Japan 2002, making friends with the Yakuza who owned the bar (who was equally fascinated by this stereotypical looking Millwall supporter). Before challenging the local police Samurai style at the end of the night. ‘We got out of town before the police returned mob handed’ he told me. Apparently having invoked the spirits of his ancestors and implying disrespect to the copper’s. As one does occasionally…

3- the last time he and I got out for a few beers in the West End. We blagged our way into a showing at an art gallery somewhere and stood sipping champagne, whilst critiquing the work on display. ‘This is how you get on Nick’ he told me. ‘Always be friendly and never be afraid’

He told me of the seriousness of his medical situation a couple of months ago. But asked that I kept it confidential as he did not deal with sympathy well. How typical . A Lion in all senses, yet kind and thoughtful too. I will miss his advice, his company and his sheer joy for life itself.

RIP Jes – it was an honour to have known you.

Nick

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CBL Magazine report 2013-14

Once again CBL Magazine has had a very good season and we have donated a total of £1650 to various charities and good causes listed below spread across the six editions produced last term.

 

Since we began under the new title in August 2012, the grand total generated by the sales of the magazine, t-shirts and badges therefore stands at £5304.

 

I would like to thank all of the writers, contributors and sellers who have helped produce this fantastic result. I would also like to thank everyone who buys any of the products that we sell. Each badge, each magazine and each t-shirt helps keep this show on the road – and I for one am looking forward to August already.

 

Up the Lions.

 

Nick – CBLthemag@hotmail.co.uk

 

CBL donations 2013-14:

#7 £150 Free Kicks Foundation

#8 & #9 £200 Poppy Appeal

#10 £500 – Keith Bone appeal

#11 £600 – Tobi Alabi appeal

#12 £200 – MacMillan Cancer

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Tales from Cold Blow Lane …

An old article from CBL Magazine’s annals by Jim Nash of the Millwall Supporters Club 

 

Well we are now way past Bonfire Night which commemorates the Great Gunpowder Plot, but way back in the 60s Millwall had a notorious gang of four. If they read this article, they will certainly know it refers to them. The aim of the gang of four was not to go around beating up opposition fans, but to gain notoriety by other means…

 

Plot 1: The success.

 

This was the now infamous hand grenade incident away to Brentford on November 6th 1964.

Millwall fans had essentially two big enemies, flash opposition goalkeepers and referees . At that time, Brentford had a bit of a fancy Dan goalkeeper called Charlie (Chic) Brodie who delighted in winding up Lions fans. And so on the Friday before the game, it was decided to give up throwing coins etc at him and come up with something a bit more tasty. One of the gang, had recently found a hand grenade in his Father’s old kit bag which had been in the loft since the end of World War Two. And so the plot was hatched – yes this would give Brodie a serious fright…

And so on the morning of the match, said hand grenade was loaded into the back of a Mini Cooper which then headed to West London. How do I know this? Simply because I was offered a lift to the match, and only became aware of the plot en route. Ad it’s a bit difficult to bail out of a Mini doing 70mph on the Hammersmith flyover

But success it was. Brodie was terrified, pictures of a police officer putting the missile into a bucket of sand were broadcast on the BBC and the Daily Sketch Newspaper – sadly no longer with us – headlined on its front page: “HAND GRENADE SHOCKS SOCCER”

Yes the gang of four had triumphed beyond their wildest dreams.

 

Plot 2: The failure

 

A few weeks after the Brentford match, the old Millwall Social Club for some reason organised a Sunday booze up to Ramsgate. Now these were the days when you could put 30 cases of lager in the luggage hold of a coach, no questions asked. The old Social Club and its members were serious drinkers and the Sunday Beanos were a regular feature. We even went to Blackpool to see the illuminations, only to find out they had been switched off six months earlier. So there we were, 50 Millwall supporters looking for somewhere to stay in an off season Blackpool, on a windswept winter’s night. But that’s a story for the future.

Anyway let’s get back to the Ramsgate trip – which as usual ended in an alcoholic haze. Just before we left, one of the gang of four noticed that near the harbour was displayed an old ocean going mine. The sort that looked like a giant hedgehog. From what I recall, this was a wartime relic retrieved from the sea off Ramsgate.

Suddenly an idea was born by one of the gang of four. Next week we are playing the Alice at Selhurst Park , If we could get the mine into the back of the coach, somehow get it into the ground, then we could roll it down the terrace towards their goalkeeper. Within minutes and without the drivers knowledge, the ocean mine was heaved into the back of the coach, and we headed back to New Cross. All to the sounds of “maybe it’s because I am a Londoner” which is something all Millwall fans sang when you got south of Eltham

A couple of hours and several hundred pints later, the coach pulled into Pepys Road which was the only alighting point. Out jumped the gang of four almost wetting themselves with anticipation. But suddenly the joy turned to despair. Where the mine should be … was a dirty great hole in the back of the coach. Yes the mine had fallen through the floor.

After a minute or so, reality kicked in. Somewhere on the A2 between New Cross and Ramsgate was an ocean going mine. As it was now dark, what would happen if a coach drove into it? Earlier in the day we had had a skirmish with a coach load of Palace fans who were in Ramsgate. So if they drove into it, that would be OK. But what if a coach load of human beings drove into it?

Suddenly everybody put their heads down and disappeared into the night air fearing the worst. We all expected the worst, but next morning nothing appeared on TV or in the newspapers. The weeks went by and still nothing, which was almost inexplicable. But I remember going back to Ramsgate a year later, and there it was back in its place by the harbour. Even today, how it get back there is a complete mystery

 

Plot 3: It wasn’t all right on the night.

 

As mentioned earlier, goalkeepers and certain referees were our biggest enemies in the 60s. You may think today’s referees are bad, but there were some real rubbish ones around at that time. One particular referee who clearly hated us was Leo Callaghan from Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales. For some inexplicable reason, we seemed to get him on a regular basis, and we all lost count of the last minute goals he denied us – along with turning down clear penalties.

So the plot was hatched once again. This time to kidnap Mr Callaghan on his way back home. In those days, nearly all referees travelled by train. So it was not difficult to work out that any train travelling to Cardiff (where you changed for Merthyr Tydfil) and that departed Paddington after 7pm on a Saturday Evening, would have Mr Callaghan on board.

And so after a home game, where Mr Callaghan true to form denied us a late equaliser, the gang of four headed straight to Paddington. Bought a ticket to Cardiff – and waited. Sure enough, the little round figure that was Callaghan walked up the platform and boarded the next train to Cardiff. Stripped of all their Millwall colours, the gang of four sat close enough to Callaghan to keep him in vision – but far enough away not to raise suspicion.

Several hours later as the train was approaching Cardiff where Callaghan would have changed trains, he was “invited” by the gang of four to inspect the empty Guards van at the back of the train. Before subsequently being tied up, not big time, but just enough to make him miss the last train back to Merthyr Tydfil.

The gang of four were jubilant. The plot was a success! However one thing was overlooked. There were no trains back to London until Sunday morning. So a long cold (but triumphant) night was spent sleeping on Cardiff station. Around 5am, the first Sunday papers began to arrive. And there to everybody’s horror on the front of the South Wales Post, was the bizarre story of an accountant from Glasgow who for some reason was abducted by a bunch of football hooligans and locked in a Guards van on Cardiff station, The gang of four had failed to stop Callaghan catching his last train, and had actually locked up a passenger who had no connection with football, they had somehow snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. The journey back to London seemed very long indeed.

Jim Nash

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The Lion King of Kilimanjaro

Colin Cooper Kilimanjaro pic

CBL Magazine has received this fantastic article from Millwall fan Jason Pickering. We will publish it in our first edition of the new season, but meanwhile spare a few minutes to admire the work of these dedicated trekkers.

For more details of the Finlay Cooper Fund please visit http://www.finlaycooperfund.co.uk

 

After spending years helping to raise funds for the Finlay Cooper Fund via charity football matches, 10k runs, half marathons and many other events, somebody within the FCF committee decided on a trek to Mount Kilimanjaro. After a few drinks at a Sportsman’s dinner not only did this seem a pretty good idea, but no great shakes. So count me in I said … oh dear!

 

On the 7th June this year, myself, Colin Cooper, Craig Hignett and Sky’s legendary sports presenter Jeff Stelling flew out from Heathrow to Nairobi, undertaking a challenge that was far bigger than we all expected. We were accompanied by a further eleven foolhardy trekkers who had also shown a willingness to raise funds for such a great cause.

 

I certainly had trained as hard as I had for anything previously. And felt pretty confident that the challenge, albeit a tough one, would be achievable. Now I loved ‘Coops’ as a player at Millwall and, over the last decade or so, we have become very good friends. But even I was horrified to see that for the next six nights our friendship would be tested within a two-man tent, which was no bigger than an inside of a mini!

 

The team of trekkers all got on very well and we certainly supported each other through some very tough days and nights. For those who don’t know, climbing Kilimanjaro is more of an endurance test, not to mention the affects of altitude that seriously come into play pretty much after about 12/13000 feet.

 

From day one when we went through the Machame gate and trekked for close on eight hours, to the unbelievably tough summit night and day. Where we trekked for close on 15 hours we all worked as a team. All of which culminated in us ALL getting to the summit (19,341ft). Coops, Higgsy and Jeff had been doing “live” updates each day to Radio Tees. And on the day we reached the summit, Coops became very emotional “Live” on air … and rightly so

 

This really put things into perspective as to why we were all climbing this mountain. For those who don’t know Coops, he is a real gentleman. And how he has coped with losing Finlay is nothing short of remarkable. We all had personal goals in our quest to reach the summit and when the going got tough, which believe me it did for me, my dear old Mum who I lost just over a year ago drove me on.

 

Reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro was not only one of the most physically and mentally tough things I have done, but also one of the most emotional. Not a dry eye in the house from 15 of us when we got to the top – and all have helped raise significant funds for a fantastic charity.

 

If you ever get the opportunity to climb Kilimanjaro, then take it. As I said, a tough challenge but something I’m very proud of achieving. And I know that the hours of sweat and tears will go someway to helping some terminally ill children.

 

Thanks to all those who have supported me not only with generous donations but also words of encouragement. As for new challenges for the coming year? I think I’ll stick to the charity football matches and gentle jogs!  Jason Pickering

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Someone Likes Us: a tribute

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Sad as it might sound, I was genuinely excited when ‘Hannibal’ from the House of Fun message board asked if I wanted a load of old Millwall fanzines that he was clearing out of his garage.

Yes I do, I replied. Especially when he told they were a mixture of original NOLUs and TLRs from the very earliest days of the fanzine scene at The Den. Unfortunately I am no collector of stuff like this myself. Indeed I have an annoying tendency to chuck things away, so old programmes and magazines tend to only exist in my ever-failing memory. Picture my little face then when, in amongst the familiar covers of TLR and (less so) No-One Likes us, I found two copied of a magazine that I never seen nor heard of – ‘Someone Likes Us’. Priced at just a quid too…

OK, I know that this doesn’t exactly compare with the famous Egyptologist Howard Carter opening up the tomb of Tutankhamen in 1922, but believe me when I say that finding ‘Someone Likes Us’ actually sent a little shiver down my neck [Ed – yes that is sad…]. 

Two magazines are all I have, but both contained well-written articles, some dodgy cartoons and some pretty-damn good photography. The April / May 1991 edition pictured has a truly fantastic and camp image of club physio of the day Peter Melville – looking like Cold Blow Lane’s answer to Alan Partridge – and a player stretched out on the massage table. No comment required. Inside we find a nicely worded article on centre-half David Thompson and an in-depth piece on the police security liaison Chief Inspector Dave Jordan. Both teamed with the afore-mentioned professional looking photography – something which I admire.

Within the second magazine, produced for the return home leg of the 1991 play-off semi-final against Brighton, there is a piece on the Millwall Lionesses, an interview with club secretary Graham Hortop over the proposed move to ‘Senegal Fields’ (and if you’re too young to know what that is, look around yourself today…) and a follow up article to an interview the magazine had held with chairman Reg Burr. Highly readable it all is too. A bit like stepping into a time machine and lurching back through 20 years of your life.

Where it does get intriguing though is in the editorial of the play-off edition. Entitled ‘Thanks’ the copy runs through the story so far of the 1990-91 season. Thanking the readers for their support, the club for its co-operation and the writers for producing such ‘brilliant articles’. The tone then takes something of a darker tone though – and it is worth quoting verbatim:

“There are of course two other magazines at The Den. It is not our intention to compete with them and we have a sensible arrangement with The Lion Roars lads. This worked very well last season [1989-90 I presume – the dating in the magazine is not always clear] when many of us were involved in starting ‘No One Likes Us’. Having three magazines on sale at once is an expensive pain in the arse, but unfortunately things have become a bit silly. The Scottish businessman who now runs No One Likes Us doesn’t believe that you should have a choice. When we should all be on the same side, he has turned a little friendly competition into a personal vendetta, resorting to smears and downright lies to discredit this magazine …’ (‘Someone Likes Us – play-off special 1991)

Wow. Strong stuff. Immediately of course I had to consult with the old NOLUs that I had been given to get the other side of the story. Well wouldn’t you want to read these smears and lies too? Come on, who wouldn’t? Now odd as it might sound given that I edited NOLU from 2009-12, I was always a bit more of a TLR man back in those days. Truth is, I never really liked the look, style nor if i am honest the tone of the old NOLU. And reading through the earliest editions I could see why. Even after nearly 22 years, I still found it awkward and harsh to no purpose. In edition 7 of NOLU, I found my answer in a piece entitled ‘Someone Likes Us’:

“When our last issue came out, you may remember that we had to sell against a new magazine, ‘Someone Likes Us’. As you can see from the poster they put around The Den, they pretended to be ‘No-One Likes Us’ and said that we had changed our name. We can promise you that the new magazine had nothing to do with us and we resent their lying to our readers to get money out of them under false pretences. No-One Likes Us disagrees with their policy of encouraging hooliganism; their pictures of tatooed muscular men and use of swear words made the magazine look like a Nazi propaganda leaflet and an incitement to violence; they threatened one of our sellers. We understand that it was originally to be called ‘The Treatment’ and such a warped idea brings embarrassment to Millwall FC and its supporters. The Southwark & Bermondsey News (October 11th) says it is published by a Norwich supporter, but perhaps National Front is nearer the mark. According to the News, you may have bought it thinking it was No-One Likes Us, so if you are annoyed about being lied to, we suggest you ask the publisher for your money back; you can phone or write to them. We don’t believe in ripping off Millwall fans off, so if you feel cheated but don’t expect to see your quid again, send us the copy of this rubbish you bought by mistake and we will mail you No-One Likes Us issue 6 with our compliments. We can have a nice bonfire with the ones you return.”

Blimey. Over the top or what. Discovering this long forgotten but obviously vehement in its time fanzine war felt a bit like listening in to someone else’s domestic argument. Compelling, yet ever-so-slightly shameful. Rather like a soap opera on TV, it offers the comforting opportunity to cheer your heroes and boo your villains at 20 years’ remove. All that I can say is that judging by the two 1991 copies of Someone Likes Us that I have seen, the magazine looked like exactly the kind of thing that I would have wanted to have read. Quite how I missed it probably bothers me more than the rights and wrongs of who did what all those years ago.

Both NOLU and TLR went on to take their places in Millwall and arguably national fanzine history. The emerging fan culture they developed has nowadays largely transferred itself over to the internet – and only a few eccentrics like yours truly continue to publish paper fanzines in the old style. Something that I believe though that should still have a place in the ever more corporate game. A matchday magazine for the fans and by the fans were what NOLU was and TLR still is. Long may we all continue. But having read the now-forgotten Someone Likes Us, I felt that this name and production deserves its moment in the sun too.

So if you are reading Stanley Knife, John McDermott, Caroline Hughes, Adrian Bhargava, ‘Phil’, Mark Yuill and Lucy McArry – well done. You produced a great looking and very readable Millwall magazine. One that deserves not to be forgotten. If it’s any consolation now, some 20 years too late perhaps, in the end ‘someone’ liked you. The Archbishop

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Welcome to The Den, Steve Lomas

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A German occupation?

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Traditionally the post of Millwall manager has been one of the more staid within the football fraternity. 

 

Charlie Hewitt, Billy Gray, Benny Fenton, George Graham and Johnny Doc. Yes as a rule, the hot seat at The Den is on average best occupied by no nonsense blokes. Men who learned their trade in the shadow of the Glasgow shipyards, the London docks or the mines of the North-East. Blokes who know what’s required to hold your own inside of rough little pubs in New Cross, Paisley or Gateshead. Canny men. Guvnors who can suss a fancy Dan out at fifty paces and tell him to sling his hook. Now.

 

So the news this week that the club are to hold a European round of interviews came as something of a shock. Millwall with a foreign coach? That really would be a break with the past. Certainly outgoing manager Kenny Jackett fitted the ‘solid’ old school stereotype. His best football was played in the traditional English mode – preferably the long ball to Steve Morison. And as soon as we started trying to pass the ball around and retain possession, well that was the start of the end for Kenny. Neither he, nor his players ever looked truly comfortable with the ball at their feet.

 

The current bookmaker’s favourite is ex-Liverpool and German international defender Markus Babbel (1/4 on with some websites). Wow. How true a rumour that is we will find out soon enough. Certainly we appear to be looking at the progress made by Swansea City, where Jackett also laid the solid foundations for a foreign coach (Roberto Martinez) to come in – and produce the kind of continental football required for the Premier League.

 

All of which is potentially very exciting. Babbel has excellent managerial credentials in Germany. If the rumours are indeed true, it would be a leap of the Millwall imagination beyond anything previously seen in Bermondsey. This being the Lions however, we have to curb our enthusiasm, just in case it proves in fact to be less Markus Babbel – and more David von Tuttel…

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