Millwall v Scunthorpe United

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Football League One

Millwall0 (0)Scunthorpe United1 (0)

Torpey 74

Millwall :
Pidgeley, Dunne, Shaw, Senda, Robinson, Hackett, Elliott, Ardley (Fuseini 83), Morais (Zebroski 83), Hubertz, Byfield
Subs not used:
Day, Charlie Lee, Grant

Scunthorpe United :
Lillis, Byrne, Hinds, Foster, Williams, Taylor, Goodwin, Baraclough (MacKenzie 74), Morris (Torpey 58), Sharp (Ridley 89), Keogh
Subs not used:
Butler, Foy


by Nick Haines at The New Den

IT’S the traditions that make Christmas special, isn’t it? By the time of the Millwall match, I’d done my Christmas shopping, written my cards, decorated the tree and been to the Pogues’ annual Christmas gig at Brixton Academy. Still to come were the drive up north, the once-a-year visit to the parents, and the obligatory turkey – oh yeah, and Scunthorpe’s traditional bad run. Which brings us to the last Friday night before Christmas. What better way to spend it than a trip to the New Den?

For me, the ground work began a couple of weeks earlier, with a pub crawl – finding somewhere to meet isn’t easy, you know! And so it was that we gathered at the Shipwrights Arms near London Bridge (what kind of away game is this then?).

After a few pints and even fewer minutes on the train, we reached South Bermondsey station, where a new walkway led us straight to the away end. It saved us mixing with the locals – no one likes them, they don’t care.

The omens for the match weren’t good. We never win in winter and tonight was cold and foggy. And there was the small matter of a suspension for Joe Murphy, whose safe hands have held our previously leaky defence together. In his place was rookie ‘keeper Josh Lillis, making his first league start.

You know the script. Scunthorpe had the Christmas spirit, and our defence were in generous mood, giving the home strikers plenty of chances, including a howler from Hinds when the ball ran through under his foot. But somehow Millwall couldn’t score. At half-time we were still hanging on, but it was only a matter of time. At least we had a good view of the action, which was all in our half – the home end won’t have seen a thing in the fog.

The second-half was more of the same, and only some poor Millwall finishing and a heroic performance from Lillis junior kept the Lions out. Surely we couldn’t get out of this with a point?

Then on came Torpey, to face one of his former clubs. You can tell they’ve seen him before, because they didn’t bother to mark him.

Which turned out to be a mistake. Williams slipped the ball to the unmarked Torps, who put his feet up with a cigar and a glass of port, wrapped his Christmas presents, and finally tucked the ball in the bottom corner.

The Scunthorpe of old would have let the lead slip, but instead we nearly made it two, with Keogh hitting a peach of a curling shot that came back off the inside of the post. And we held on for the win, with Lillis the hero of the hour (and I think he enjoyed hearing us chant his name).

A totally undeserved three points, with shades of Gillingham away, but good sides pick up points when they’re playing badly. Now we’re doing it too. At Christmas as well – so much for tradition!

Back to the pub for the celebration then. As the beer flowed, our numbers dwindled until only the travel sec. and I were left to witness one of the poorest attempts to pull a cracker I’ve ever seen. Did he really think a SULSESC membership card would swing her? But no name, no pack drill (and cheers for the drink!). Better position than Torps, and still he failed to score.

Before the game, Adkins said he believed in Father Christmas. Well, after seeing Scunthorpe get Christmas off to a winning start, I think I do too.