When the world was experiencing the early stages of a global pandemic, nobody knew how it would affect our day to day lives. One of the things that was put on hold, but then returned without any spectators present was our beloved football, and fans were desperate to get back into the ground and feel the connection with their team. Along with Karl Bates, our guest was tasked with providing commentary to all those who were unable to step foot in The Den, and he did a wonderful job in providing tactical and strategical expertise to those in their home who wanted to know how Millwall were playing. For this interview, we speak with the person who not only is a key part of a hugely successful media team who provides us with the content we are craving, but also travels up and down the country week in, week out to cover the up's and down's of The Lions from the commentary box. Today, we speak with Senior Media Officer, Max McLellan.
Max, thank you for taking the time for interview, first question is how are you finding the start of the season so far?
I’ve loved the start of the season, just to have fans back and to feel a proper atmosphere once again has been superb. Already there have been some incredible moments which simply wouldn’t have been the same without fans there to see it all unfold.
Your background saw you at Port Vale before joining Millwall. What was your role there, was it similar to at The Den?
At Port Vale I was the only full-time media officer which meant I had to cover everything across the club. I loved my time there and was very fortunate to have been helped by a few students from Staffordshire University who volunteered on match days to help me. Obviously here at Millwall, we’re fortunate enough to have four of us in the media team who are full-time, so we’re able to split the workload rather than it being one person trying to cover everything.
How did the move to Millwall come about, and how did you react when you were offered the role?
I’m from Sidcup and after living in Stoke for five years for university and Port Vale, I felt like I was ready to move back down to be closer to my friends and family. I had seen the club advertising a vacancy in the media department on Twitter and thought this is great opportunity for me to step-up into a demanding league with big expectations on a media team, but also to be back home. I was on the train back from London to Stoke when Billy Taylor first called me after my interview, and because I had no reception I had a ‘missed call’ message on the my phone! I thought it was the call to say ‘thanks but no thanks’, luckily it was good news when I was able to call back and here we are today.
Although Port Vale are a relatively big club, being with Millwall in the Championship must have felt slightly different due to the teams we are playing. What are the differences between the two?
Of course the quality of football and atmospheres are better in the Championship, which is expected because the fan bases are bigger and there’s a nice blend of Championship and Premier League quality players playing in this division. Genuinely though, Port Vale had some unbelievable atmospheres and really do have a fantastic following, particularly away from home. Playing Manchester City in the cup was amazing, but some of the best atmospheres came from away games like Crewe Alex, Leyton Orient, Notts County etc. I’m gutted I missed out on seeing a sell-out away end at The Valley! Everyone had said Millwall vs Charlton is the best game all season for atmosphere and lock down ruined that plan in the 19/20 season – no idea when we will next see that fixture!
Along with Karl Bates, you are the voice of Millwall’s iFollow coverage. How did that role come about and how was it being listened to by so many fans during ‘the season without fans’?
Billy Taylor played a blinder basically. He used to do co-commentary with Batesy, but during lock down Billy’s partner, Sammie, was expecting at any moment, so Billy understandably didn’t want to travel all the way up to Barnsley in case the baby arrived. He handed the reigns over to me which I was buzzing about because I’ve always wanted to do commentary and I’ve done it ever since. I say Billy played a blinder though, because the game finished 0-0! It was the first time I had ever commentated so I was a bit rusty at the start, Batesy is brilliant though and has helped me a lot. I just hope we were able to bring a bit of Millwall to the homes of everyone listening and hopefully didn’t put too many people to sleep! I’ve really enjoyed it but honestly, it’s so much better commentating with fans back.
The media team’s work is always highly praised by the fan base. What has been your proudest moment working with the team?
There’s been a lot of proud moments, working with the team to produce Wall Talk has been great and it’s amazing to see fans enjoying it. The proudest moment though is one I have to hand over to Stewart White (Marketing & Branding Supervisor), Shona Groves (SLO) and Sammy Brough (former Video Content Producer) for their work with Charlie Harris for the Cancer Deadline Day campaign. Charlie, who was terminally ill with cancer, and Stewart noticed his amazing £400 donation. Shona liaised with Charlie’s family to arrange a signed shirt whilst Stewart and Broughy produced such a heart-warming video to highlight his incredible donation and kindness. The three went above and beyond for Charlie and rightly so because he deserved it. An amazing man and campaign which also saw Millwall fans finish top of the table for the money they raised. Charlie said passed away at the start of October, but he will always be remembered by everyone at the club.
Karl breaking chairs aside, what has been your funniest moment on commentary?
Nothing will top that, genuinely. The noise he makes when he topples, the chair crashing, nails rolling all around the ground, Mark and Broughy crying in the row in front, I think you could tell I was absolutely dying on air. To be fair to Batesy, he does very well to hold it together, I’d have been cursing all over the place. Best moment on commentary though would be Jed’s goal against QPR or Coops’ goal against Sheffield United. Unbelievable goals in their own unique ways.
What do you hope for the future? Commentary on MOTD or Sky, or staying with Millwall when we win the Premier League?
I think any other answer than staying with Millwall for the Premier League title would be wrong so I’m going with that!
A final message to the Millwall fans who are now back in the stadium?
I hope the fans are enjoying every moment of being back because we as a club certainly missed the amazing atmosphere they generated week in week out.