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Review - Game 14: Millwall 0-0 Yeovil Town
The nights are getting colder and shorter but the trip to South London couldn`t come soon enough for me, I had been promised by some very nice people working in Millwall`s press department that I could sit in the press box and that afterwards it would be no problem to meet a player and get a signature for the t-shirt! I arrived quite early and sure enough was admitted into the press entrance and offered cups of tea, sandwiches and a free program. Not knowing what to expect however I had already bought a program outside the ground and had eaten en-route so instead I spent the time looking through the Millwall trophy displays and old newspaper cuttings whilst not understanding any of the `shop talk` between the other journalist`s who were regularly entering.
Walking up two flights of stairs I picked a seat in the press area and viewed my surroundings. The stadium is compact and keeps noise reverberating within it`s confines making for a loud atmosphere in spite of crowd size. Yeovil had brought around 100 odd supporters (not sure where the Millwall website got 156 from) but they were a keen bunch and made more noise than many home fans I have witnessed so far this season. Millwall`s support hasn`t been huge and to say they were a little disgruntled after recent lacklustre displays would be an understatement. The reason? Lack of goals, and this limitation was to prove costly once again. The game started and Yeovil looked comfortable in midfield but were lacking any quality up front whereas Millwall were able to work some decent openings mainly down the flanks but were woeful once they entered the 18 yard box.
With anguished cries erupting from the home fans Millwall repeatedly allowed Yeovil off the hook, with only Lions legend Neil Harris looking likely to test keeper Alex McCarthy. In truth the Millwall players looked bereft of confidence, passing the ball on instead of having a pop or when they did try to hit the ball in anger the shape as they approached the ball left onlookers in no doubt that a shot was the last thing they actually wanted to perform. The game was also to prove one of the more feisty I have seen so far and a full scale riot almost ensued after Millwall keeper David Forde was apparently elbowed in the head as he collected a cross. At the time I thought it was just a clash of heads but Forde`s reactionary swipe at the offending Yeovil player, Sam Williams, led to a playground stand-off between both sets of players, a yellow card for the two protagonists and a lengthy wait as Forde`s head was heavily bandaged.
The best chance of the first half came almost at the end when midfielder Steve Morison met a high cross and his looping header bounced off the top of the goal. With half time upon us I wandered back into the press rooms to find tea and biscuits waiting and quickly nipped in to beat the many ample figured journo`s who trundled in after. I also opened and started to consume a pack of wine gums (a favourite at any game for me) and awaited to see if the second half would improve upon a fairly dire first half.
The second half mirrored the first in many respects, general feistiness and a lack of ability in the final third but where it differed was that it was actually quite enjoyable to watch, at least for the neutral. Yeovil started the more assured and with each passing minute saw Millwall defend deeper and deeper as Yeovil worked the ball to either flank and looked for an opening. Then in a dramatic five minute spell Yeovil almost had the game sown up, first a rasping effort from Shaun Macdonald was pushed onto the post by Forde and then a minute or two later a second drive from around twenty five yards saw Forde helplessly watch the ball cannon against the cross-bar. Yeovil had decided to negate the problematic striker position by trying some long range efforts and they were unlucky that neither hit the back of the net.
Millwall persevered and tried to get a goal that the players and fans desperately needed but again were let down by a lack of ability in the final third. Sloppiness was also affecting the team and many crosses were either over or under-hit by a huge margin giving little chance for any Lions player to worry McCarthy`s goal. A number of hard challenges and some petulant ones were awarded yellow cards by the referee who had a fairly poor game along with both linesman. Many incidents were given the wrong way and Millwall will certainly feel they didn`t get the rub of the green on more than one occasion. With time running out it was looking more and more likely that I would witness the first nil nil of the M25 Football Experience this season. Although one nil nil from fourteen games isn`t a bad ratio at all.
The final whistle was greeted with a chorus of boos from the home fans who had had to put up with some terrible passing and crossing for the final ten minutes when Millwall had been camped in Yeovil`s half. I didn`t mind too much though as I was soon being led through a maze of corridors and stairwells until I walked past both sets of dressing rooms and out onto the pitch, through the tunnel. I watched as a frustrated Kenny Jackett gave an interview to Millwall`s official website and was then asked if there was a particular player who I wanted to meet. I did, and asked whether ex-QPR player Adam Bolder was around, he came over and signed my t-shirt as we chatted and he then posed for a picture and I would like to place on record that he is a great guy.
Not the greatest result for Millwall but they then hammered Tranmere on the Saturday by five goals! Just my luck to miss that! A big thank you to Lucy and all the staff at Millwall as well as Adam. I went home with a big smile after a nil nil draw, something that doesn`t often happen.
Toboboly with Millwall midfielder Adam Bolder - formerly of QPR.
Build Up - Game 15: Charlton Athletic v Barnet
Charlton Athletic were formed in 1905 by a group of teens but only became a proffessional club fifteen years later in 1920. This was due to the more successful Woolwich Arsenal who played in the area, however when they relocated to North London in 1913 Charlton benefitted and improved over the years. Charlton play in red and white because their first kits were lent to them by Woolwich Arsenal back in 1905.
In 1923 Charlton almost merged with Catford Southend in order to make a bigger more commercially viable club but despite negotiations the merger never went ahead. The team had there most successful spells either side of the Second World War, winning promotion to the First Division in 1936 after successive promotions and appeared in two FA Cup finals in 1946 and 1947, winning the latter.
Charlton are known as The Addicks and the best explanation for the name is that it is a corrupted form of haddock the fish. This is because the club used to be given a fish supper from a local fishmonger and if the team had won it was haddock whilst the losing team received cod. Haddock therefore meant the winning team and over the years the name was corrupted like a chinese whisper into The Addicks. Their main rivals are Crystal Palace and Millwall, although Millwall prefer their rivalry with West Ham. Gillingham also count Charlton as rivals but this is not reciprocated to the same extent.
During the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies the club yo-yo`d between the leagues and found it`s finances stretched further and further fnally entering administration in 1984. The club then had to leave The Valley due to safety concerns and groundshared with Crystal Palace for seven years until 1992 when they finally returned to The Valley. The appointment of Alan Curbishley in 1991 as joint manager and then solo manager in 1995 saw the club climb up the leagues. Eventually gaining promotion to the Premiership after "one of the greatest games at Wembley" a 4-4 draw with Sunderland that Charlton won 7-6 on penalties. Curbishley almost got the club into the Champions League but the club faltered to a 7th position and missed out. Curbishley left in 2006 and Charlton`s fortunes left with him. They were relegated to the Championship then to League One after a club record 18 games without a win.
Charlton have managed to keep many of their players from last year`s disasterous relegation season and look like they will be challenging for automatic promotion this year however they were knocked out in the League Cup first round by Hereford and may not play a full strength squad against Barnet. Although a league lower Barnet have picked up some great results and have also beaten Millwall in this very trophy already this year so will have their tails up coming into this one, looking for another cup upset.
FA Cup Winners 1947
Football League Champions 2000
Division One Play-Off Champions 1998
Division Two Runners-Up 1936
Division Two Runners-Up 1986
Division Three South Champions 1929
Division Three South Champions 1935
Full Members Cup Runner-up 1987
How to get there;
By car from the M25. The easiest way to get to The Valley is to use the A2, accessed from junction two of the M25 (those heading south via the M1, A1 or M11 should head clockwise on the M25, signposted 'Dartford Crossing`). Heading into London along the A2, the dual carriageway becomes the A102M - the approach road to the Blackwall Tunnel. Leave at the junction after the A2 exit and take the right-hand exit at the roundabout - the A206 Woolwich Road.
After the major set of traffic lights at Anchor and Hope Lane and Charlton Church Lane, travel around second roundabout and take the last exit to drive back on yourself. Then take the first left into Charlton Lane. Cross the railway line and continue up the road, then right into Harvey Gardens. The stadium is on the left. Access to Floyd Road and Harvey Gardens is restricted on matchdays.
By train & tube;
Southeastern runs train services to the railway station at Charlton, from central London in the west and north Kent to the east. The station is a short walk from the ground. Frequent services depart from Charing Cross, Waterloo East and London Bridge, with limited departures from Victoria and Cannon Street. Some services come through Dartford continue to Charlton, while connections for others can be made at Blackheath, Lewisham and London Bridge. The Docklands Light Railway from east London connects with rail services from Greenwich and Lewisham to Charlton, while the Jubilee Line underground station at North Greenwich is a short bus ride from The Valley.
Numerous bus routes serve the ground. They include the 53 (Plumstead, Woolwich, Blackheath, New Cross, central London), the 54 (Lewisham, Catford, Beckenham, Elmers End) and the 161 (Chislehurst, Mottingham, Eltham, Woolwich, North Greenwich).
Others are the 177 (Thamesmead, Plumstead, Woolwich, Greenwich, New Cross, Peckham), the 180 (Thamesmead, Plumstead, Woolwich, Greenwich, Lewisham), the 422 (Bexleyheath, Welling, Plumstead, Blackheath, North Greenwich), the 472 (Thamesmead, Plumstead, Woolwich, North Greenwich), and the 486 (Bexleyheath, Welling, Shooters Hill and North Greenwich). These services discharge passengers on the A206 Woolwich Road, or in Charlton Village, both a five-minute walk from the ground.