Millwall are something of an institution in English football, famed for its fans, ‘The Den’ they call home and a rich history dating back 127 years.
When formed as Millwall Rovers back in 1885, the club played on the Isle of Dogs in the East End of London, before making the switch to Lewisham in South London whilst still keeping its original Millwall name.
Throughout the early years Millwall became one of the founding Football League sides, joining the Football League Third Division alongside 22 other teams back in 1920.
And despite languishing in the third tier of English football, Millwall were pre-war the tenth best supported side on these isles.
And in 1945 they took part in the Southern FA Cup final against Chelsea, a game in which 90,000 spectators, including King George IV, saw the last Cup final to be played during war time. This to date remains the record attendance for any Millwall fixture.
Millwall is a name synonymous with football hooliganism, which was rife during the 1960’s and 80’s. The firm associated with the club, known as the F-Troop, became one of the most notorious hooligan gangs in England.
Incidents culminating in numerous club fines for crowd disorder, including one occasion when a fake grenade was thrown onto the pitch during a match against Brentford in 1965.
But such happenings are a thing of the past. The infamous chants of ‘No one likes us, we don’t care,’ may still reign down from the terraces, but the widespread criminality of the fans is far less common.
And in its wake has emerged a team that this season looks a serious playoff contender in The Championship as The Lions look to regain promotion to the top flight of English football for the first time since 1988-1990.
Millwall have built on the successes of the past ten years. In 2003, Chelsea legend Dennis Wise took charge at The Den and led The Lions to their first FA Cup Final in their history. They went into the final missing 16 players through suspension and injury, and ultimately stuttered to a 3-0 defeat against Manchester United.
However, the appearance in the final meant the club got a taste of Europe for the first time as they qualified for the UEFA Cup. Two goals over two legs from player-manager Wise wasn’t enough to qualify for the group stage proper, losing 4-2 on aggregate to Hungarian champions Ferencvaros.
Then followed a period of managerial turmoil. Six managers came and went in the space of two years, culminating in the relegation to League One in 2006 which also saw Chairman Theo Paphitis end his eight year association with the club.
However, in 2007, new investment and the crucial installment of current manager Kenny Jacket saw Millwall’s fortunes finally start to change.
After two playoff final defeats and having missed out on automatic promotion by just one point in 2010 to Leeds, The Lions finally broke back into The Championship courtesy of a 1-0 playoff final victory against Swindon Town at Wembley.
Fast forward to 2012 and Millwall currently look a side capable of returning to The Premier League. At the time of writing they sit ninth in the table, just two points behind the playoffs having registered high profile victories against Leeds, Bolton, Middlesbrough and Nottingham Forest.
Top scorers in the form of Liam Trotter, Darius Henderson, Chris Wood and defensive stability in the shape of Dan Shittu have helped mould a team that looks capable of mounting a well prepared charge up the Championship table.
And in Kenny Jacket, Millwall have a man in charge that has already proven he can inspire a squad to achieve more than is expected of them.