Many of the fans in attendance at The Den come from a long line of Millwall supporters. It is who we are: we aren't glory hunters, we do not chase Premier League titles or places in the Champions League, and we certainly weren't top of the list when Messi, Ronaldo and Lukaku were available for transfer at the start of the season. We love our club and we all dream of being a part of it one way or another. But, how does it feel when this actually happens? Going to watch and follow your club is one thing, but to be writing personal football blogs and articles when you are young and then becoming an integral and vital part of how the club operates, is a step that many young journalists can only dream of. For this interview, we sit down with someone who is involved in the content and information that is produced and released by our South London club on social media, podcasts and the match day programme: Club Journalist, Mark Litchfield.
1. Mark, thank you for your time and doing this interview. Tell us your history with Millwall, are you from a family of Millwall supporters?
My history with the club goes all the way back to the 1930s (as far as I know, it could go further!) My Grandad went to The ‘old’ Den as a fan and then proceeded to work for the club in later life, before he took my Dad, who then took me. My first game was in 1995 – a 2-1 win at Crystal Palace, so not a bad way to start! - and I (unfortunately) haven’t looked back since.
2. You had your own blog covering The Lions before you got the job at the club. Was the plan with the blog to eventually get the role you are doing now, or was it more of a hobby?
Like most young boys, my passion for the game of football has been in me from a very young age. When at school, I also developed a liking for the media side of things – Media Studies was always the class I looked forward to. I always wanted to put the two together and work in the media, in football – never for a tabloid newspaper or anything along those lines, my dream job was to work for Millwall. Who wouldn’t want to work for the club they support? The blog actually started off as a response to something Sky Sports showed about Millwall’s fans, and that particular article literally went worldwide in its praise. From there, it was quite clear to me what path I should take.
3. Along with the blog, you wrote for a number of other outlets, can you tell us more about those and what sort of content this was?
Mainly, I did work for Southwark News and South London Press covering the club – most home matches, away matches here and there. It was just writing match reports, interviewing the manager/players after games, but that gave me the flavour – and the desire – to do it as more of a full-time occupation.
4. How did the job at Millwall come about, and how does it feel to be such an integral part of the content that comes out from the club?
The media department was due a bit of reshuffle in early 2017, and through my work for the local papers and blog writing, Billy – who was returning at that time – gave me a call to ask if I’d like to come on board and work for the club. I, obviously, said yes, and things have gone from there. It’s a great feeling to be working for the club. It’s a stressful job, but it’s also a rewarding job. Most of it is result-dependant, of course, but to be writing about the club you support, plus getting to travel to every single game, is something that most can only dream about. I know how fortunate I am.
5. Along with writing the match day programme, you also carry out interviews and are present in the press box when the players/management speak with the press. What is a match day like for someone in your position?
Busy! On the morning of a home game, I’m usually working away in the office until about 1/1.30pm, when the match day routine takes over – team sheets are exchanged with the coaches and officials in the tunnel, before I’m distributing them around the stadium after they’re announced to the public at 2pm. I then head up to the press box around 15-20 minutes before kick-off, report on the game – you’re not meant to celebrate in there, but that usually goes out of the window when we score, especially during times like Jake Cooper’s winner at Sheffield United – before taking the radio reporters down to pitch side after the game. We always interview the manager, but should the result be positive, we’ll also interview a player. On away days, workload is a little less, but you’re getting home at all times of the night/the next day.
6. You also are a host of the massively popular Wall Talk. How did the idea of starting a club podcast happen?
A podcast is something that has been spoken about since not long after I joined the club – it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. There are so many fan-led ones out there these days, the club needed to have one. Since Max came in, that accelerated and we now have Wall Talk, which is one of my favourite things to do in working for the club. We’ve had some fantastic guests on already, with plenty more to come, and it’s great to be able to talk to your heroes about Millwall and football in general. It’s basically like four people having a chat over a pint at the pub.
7. You are part of the team who are responsible for the unveiling of new signings and other big club news. What has been the most exciting topic you have had to cover so far?
It’s never dull at The Den, but the day of the Tim Cahill signing was incredible. It all started about 8am, didn’t finish until 10pm, but every moment in between was packed and extremely fun to work on. It’s fair to say that the second coming – on the pitch – wasn’t as fruitful as the first, but that day, his time at the club and getting to work with him, will live long in the memory. Other mentions must go to the Play-Off Final victory against Bradford and the celebrations that followed, which were unforgettable, and games like the FA Cup giant-killings of Everton and Leicester City, as well as a few awaydays which have been brilliant. On the flip side, the 24-48 hours surrounding Neil Harris’ departure were the saddest times.
8. Darts is something you are also a huge fan of, would you say you enjoy it as much as football and what is your favourite darts tournament to watch?
Football will always be my number one sport, but darts isn’t far behind. I’ve been watching the game for about 13/14 years now and it just seems to get better and better. I’ve been to a few tournaments around the country, but nothing will beat the World Championships at Alexandra Palace.
9. You only have one choice, you can score the last minute winner for Millwall to win the Champions League or throw the last dart in a nine dart finish to win the PDC World Championship. What will it be?
It’s got to be a last-minute winner for Millwall, hasn’t it?
10. Do you have any words for the Millwall fans who are now back in the stadium? What does their support mean to you?
Genuinely, as someone who has sat in the stands for many years, I felt so much for those who weren’t able to comes to games during the COVID-19 pandemic. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to not be able to come to games. Watching matches in empty stadiums win, lose or draw wasn’t the same, and it’s fantastic to be back to ‘normal’ now. I’m obviously biased in saying this, but there really is no better atmosphere than at The Den, so to take my seat and see three sides of the stadium full of supporters once again is a great feeling.