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Opponent Bio: Millwall

Bolton Wanderers welcome Liam Feeney and his Millwall team-mates to the Reebok this Saturday. Millwall are a club defined by its fans and the club ‘enjoys’ a hostile and well documented rivalry with West Ham United.

Warren Little

Seen traditionally as a working man’s London Club, Millwall was founded in 1885 in London’s East End as Millwall Rovers by factory workers in the area. Millwall Rovers competed in localised competitions at a variety of different venues, like many clubs during the same era. The club developed quickly and reached the FA Cup Semi-finals in both 1900 & 1903. With a rising popularity amongst locals, the club moved to a new stadium, The Den in 1910. The club entered the Football League at a time of its great expansion. The Lions entered with twenty-two other clubs in the formation of the Football League Third Division.

Millwall remained in the bottom two tiers during this period but did enjoy numerous FA Cup runs including a famous 3-1 victory over defending Cup holders Huddersfield Town in the 1927 competition. The Lions achieved a couple of historical records within this period, most notably their return of 87 home goals in the 1928 season, an imposing record which remains today. In the post-war era it took Millwall many years to recover from the damage of World War II, including the heavy bomb damage inflicted on The Den.

The late 1960’s saw the club’s resurgence and under the stewardship of manager Billy Gray, The Lions enjoyed a very successful period culminating in an unbeaten home record of 59 games. Rising steadily through the different eras, Millwall played their first game of top-tier English football in the 1988-99 season. An historically good home record saw them compete at the higher end of the table, helped tremendously by the goals of Teddy Sheringham and Tony Cascarino. However, the club struggled to maintain this level of performance and were relegated soon after.

At that time Millwall appointed Bolton Wanderers Legendary Manager Bruce Rioch but he was unable to get the Lions back into the First Division. Rioch was replaced by managerial-stalwart Mick McCarthy, who after a moderately successful spell, left to take the Republic of Ireland job. As so often happens when a manager leaves a club, Millwall then went into a spiral and soon were relegated into the third tier and with serious financial difficulty threatening the clubs very existence.

Famed Business Angel, Theo Paphitis took over as Chairman and slowly the club began to find its feet again. Mark McGhee was appointed manager in September 2000 and quickly returned the East London club to the Second Tier. McGhee would struggle at this level and following his departure, ex-Chelsea midfielder Dennis Wise was brought in. Wise provided Millwall with the biggest success in their history as he guided The Lions to the FA Cup final after a dramatic semi-final victory led by their iconic former midfielder, Tim Cahill, who would then depart to Everton. They lost the resulting final 3-0 to Manchester United, but as a result of their amazing run, Millwall gained qualification into European Competition for the first time in their history.

Following the departure of Theo Paphitis and secondly, Dennis Wise, the club struggled to stabilise and had no fewer than six managers in the following two years. It took American investment and the appointment of Kenny Jackett to see Millwall develop in the established second tier side they are today. The highlight under Jackett’s stewardship was a 1-0 League One Play-Off Final Triumph over Swindon Town to return the club to the Championship for the first time in four years.

Jackett’s reign also included some ties with rivals West Ham United. The games did throw up some unsavoury incidents and the club has been stained by its association with hooliganism. There have been many incidents involving the club, particularly in the games involving West Ham United. Seemingly having taken ‘The Wall’ as far as he could, Jackett resigned after over five years and was replaced by former St Johnstone boss Steve Lomas who has had a difficult start to life in London. His side come to the Reebok placed 20th in the table.