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Busy Times at The Den

Ins, outs, season tickets hitting door mats and welcoming hummel, it's been an action packed couple of weeks at The Den. With players departing for the Midlands, players arriving from the Eredivisie and the media team hiding the kit launch on the blue-walled walk way of Bolina Road, this has been one of the more exciting summers we have seen for a long time, but lets look a bit closer under the microscope...

 

Cheerio...


The season was barely finished when Gary Rowett held the door open for a number of players to make their way out of SE16. After the likes of Matt Smith, Jon Dadi Bodvarsson and Ben Thompson left in the winter, a few of the players who were living on borrowed time could see our manager oiling the hinges of the reception door at The Den with the WD40 that was used to get some of our more injury-prone players fit. After the final whistle away at AFC Bournemouth saw The Lions' faint play-off hopes finished, we said goodbye to a number of players, including the likes of Alex Pearce, Maikel Kieftenbeld and Mahlon Romeo. The three were arguably the biggest names who made their way to pastures new, finding their way to AFC Wimbledon, FC Emmen and Cardiff, respectively. Connor Mahoney was another player who left the club, but his departure was expected and he left the club as a free agent. Suppose we'll always have the Luton games and that pre-season friendly against Real Sociedad to remember him by...


Another player's exit which was an expected departure, although we tried to cling onto him in the same way the marketing department still clings to the hope the John Berylson bobbleheads were a good idea, was Jed Wallace. Our number seven has arguably been the best and most consistent signing at the club since the McGhee squad of the early 2000s and although his destination was not exactly where the fans thought he would end up, his signing for fellow Championship side West Bromwich Albion left some sections of the fan base feeling deflated and thinking it could be a long season in the 2022/23 campaign.


Jed was gone, there wasn't much sign of anyone else coming in, the club and Gary Rowett were saying be patient, our pre-season was starting to look like it's usual weekend at Camber Sands compared to the Costa Del Sol and Stoke City was our opening game of the season. Not a lot of excitement seemed to be the way we were going, that was until we heard a deal in Belgium fell through and the club started putting jars of honey on their social media accounts...


Welcome...


Zian Flemming. In truth, a name not many of us had heard of before and one that didn't instantly come to mind when a replacement for Jed was mentioned. But, no sooner had the ink dried on Wallace's deal at The Hawthorns and he was being paraded as a Baggie, Fortuna Sittard's now former attacking player packed a bag of his own and made his was to SE16. The Millwall social media channels showed pictures and videos of him in the new training gear, hopping and jumping around like an enthusiastic Tigger, and we at home watching were bouncing too. Yes, the Eredivise standard overall may not be the Championship or higher, but this was a player who seems to have bags of potential and a decent goal return for a player in the years he was at Fortuna. Will he be the player who fires us towards those play-offs next season? Time will tell, but lets just hope the fans at Zampa Road don't put too much expectation on him, we've had our fingers burned before...


Flemming was barely through the door and dreaming of his first Millwall Cafe fry-up when news broke that Benik Afobe's two-year deal at Club Brugge wasn't going ahead, and last year's top goalscorer for Millwall had signed a one-year contract to play for the Bermondsey side on a permanent basis. Some say the jury is still out with Afobe, however, this is a striker who was the only player at The Den to comfortably hit double figures last season, has a wealth of experience in the Championship and until personal details caused the Brugge move to be off, was on the cusp of playing for a big European name in the Champions League next season. Yes, swapping Leffe for Carlsberg in a plastic bottle may not have been what Afobe had in mind a few weeks back, but the fact the club managed to swoop in and get a player of that quality on a permanent basis was shrewd business, and if we can get Flemming, Afobe and Bradshaw fit and ticking next year, who can say we won't be there or thereabouts next May?


But, who was that person stood next to Afobe when he was unveiled? Why, it's only George Honeyman, of course! The club captain from The Tigers of Hull City made his way down south to join The Lions of Millwall. A really hard-working midfielder who has received stacks of plaudits over the last few seasons, Honeyman is a player who featured in over 100 games for the Yorkshire club and led them to the League One title in the 2020/21 season. The Northumberland-born midfielder also graced the Premier League for Sunderland at the start of his career and has joined Millwall to try and take The Lions that step closer to the top six.


And Finally...


Some eagle-eyed fans of the Women's game would have seen the recent signing of Gemma Bryan to the Millwall Lionesses. Also hiding from the media glare in Bolina Road at the kit unveil, Gemma Bryan joins the L&SERWFL Premier Division after spells at Crystal Palace and Charlton Athletic Women, but she has made the right choice in re-joining the club she started her career at the age of 17. Also, she now knows if she puts the league name on a triple word score on Scrabble then the score will be astronomical. Also, leaving the Millwall Lionesses is club captain, Libby Stubbs, who departs the St. Paul's side after leaving a fantastic legacy both on and off the pitch.


So, we reached Friday 1st July and who would have guessed it, but the Club Shop website didn't crash! Hooray! With that said, think there are a few typos on some of the players' names that you can get printed on the back which need ironing. Hey-ho, at least there are no more bobbleheads...



Come on you Lions...



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