"We Are The Boys Who Will Stop Your Little Game. We Are The Boys Who Will Make You Think Again."
"We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender." In 1940, a brave band of pilots stood up to a seemingly more powerful and deadly enemy. Their sole intention was to destroy, decimate and conquer all those around them, leaving ruins of any of those who opposed them and reign supreme.
But one brave island, inspired by their leader who refused to be defeated, stood up to this enemy and were victorious. Led by our veteran Squadron Leader Steve Morison and our brave and courageous Flight Lieutenant Shaun Hutchinson, The Lions of South London ensured Middlesbrough's Operation Sea Lion was unsuccessful. The Battle of Bermondsey may have been won on the ground, but it was the aerials battles that were the foundations to our successful attack.
Middlesbrough were the first to attempt an aerial bombardment, with Stewart Downing sending in the first squad of assault. An early cross in the first two minutes gave the indication that the Millwall coastline would sustain heavy bombing, but our defensive units in their cockpits bravely rose to clear the danger. Our ground forces were also taking heavy artillery with Flying Officer Mahlon Romeo taking fire from the Boro winger in the 5th minute.
After some great aerial work from Spitfire pilots Hutchinson and Cooper, it was the time for our Hurricane pilot Lee Gregory to join the battle. Zipping into battle with Romeo on his wing, his pass was agonisingly just too long, otherwise our first defensive attack may've ended this battle early.
In the 11th minute, Cooper's wing was clipped and a moment of uncertainness nearly allowed the enemy fighters to penetrate our base. A near post shot from Patrick Bamford in the 15th minute was palmed away superbly by Pilot Officer Jordan Archer. Our shoreline was being defended well, but the enemy air force was starting to unload heavy artillery.
Flying Officer Tunnicliffe and Bamford were having their own individual dogfights throughout the half, but it was again the impressive Flight Lieutenant Hutchinson who was dangerous in the air, superbly flying into the penalty area in the 19th and 22nd minutes respectively. The first aerial attack was clumsily palmed away by the Boro keeper and the latter was flicked on by Lee Gregory and cleared off the goal line.
The referee in the middle of the park was as effective as the League of Nations which was formed after World War I, seemingly siding with the more powerful nations when it is the smaller islands who rightly needed the big decisions for them. Every Millwall tackle was penalised and 50/50 given to Middlesbrough and when Britt Assombalonga put the ball in the back of the net in the 29th minute, we thought we had gone 1-0 down. Luckily, the League of Nations couldn't let this one stand and the offside flag was raised to signify the battle was still on.
In the 31st minute, Millwall's daring attack was rewarded, a high ball was brought down by Gregory, who deployed Ryan Tunnicliffe to start his wave of attack. Tunnicliffe swooped in and allowed Jed Wallace through and our impressive Flight Lieutenant calmly pulled the trigger. The enemy forces had been breached and Millwall's Spitfires were 1-0 up.
The aerial bombardment continued with a long range missile from Steve Morison coming close, before a daring solo mission from George Saville resulted in another successful attack. In the 36th minute Saville jumped in the cockpit and slalomed through the Boro defence. Seeing the enemy target, he unloaded his ammunition and successfully put the ball beyond the stranded goalkeeper. Millwall were deservedly 2-0 up going into the break.
The second half started in the same vein as the first, with Millwall Squadron bravely withstanding the aerial bombardment of the Middlesbrough team. Boro were trying to get the ball and re-group, waiting for the right moment for a successful counter attack, but the brave Millwall team were chasing down any loose pilot who broke away from the attack formation.
Middlesbrough set up another aerial attack in the 61th minute, but this weak attempt failed to hit the Millwall base. Saville again managed to fly his way through the Boro air force in the 66th minute, before Boro finally launched a successful attempt which caught our wingmen off guard. Downing picked up the ball in lots of airspace, before launching a huge missile at Jordan Archer. In the melee and pilots flying around in front of him, Archer was caught off guard and this attack was successful. The Boro fans erupted in the 67th minute after seeing this missile result in a direct hit, and the score line was now 2-1.
Whereas this may deflate some teams and set up more and more air raids, the opposite seemed to happen. Although the home fans were used to rations and not having the luxuries what other clubs enjoyed, we continued to Dig for Victory and back our brave pilots. There was a roar around the ground and although Careless Talk usually Costs Lives, we could not be silenced.
Millwall continued to go forward, showing the enemy they had just got lucky and that we were still the kings of the skies. Tunnicliffe had the opportunity to end this battle once and for all, but his bullets were impenetrable with the keeper gathering the ball up comfortably in the 79th minute. The impressive Squadron Leader, Steve Morison came close in a daring solo mission in the 83rd minute, but again the Middlesbrough goalkeeper kept his air base safe.
Middlesbrough were flying erratically and dangerously in the last few minutes but our Home Guard stood firm and defended superbly. The all clear siren sounded, the remaining Boro fleet retreated and our shore line was defended. Millwall were 2-1 winners and this seemingly one sided battle had swung in our favour. Millwall are currently fighting many battles at the moment, be it against the financial might of recently relegated teams, a council who are determined to go through with plans to put the future of the club in jeopardy and a Football Association who seem to come down harder on our brave pilots more than others.
Just like the song, There'll Always Be An England, after the way we played against Middlesbrough and stood together in the face of mammoth tasks, There'll Always Be A Millwall.
🏆 Man of the Match 🏆
A superb display of leadership and real quality. An inspirational performance from Millwall's centre half.
💬 Fans after thought 💬
This week's fans after thought is my mate and Millwall Lionesses season ticket holder Harry Cooper, AKA 'Arry from the café.
Name: Harry Cooper (AKA Arry in the cafe)
Favourite player this season: A toss up between George and Jed. Two very good players on the ball, but what I like about them two is the work rate off the ball that they have, and these two have the ability to step up a gear when needed.
All time favourite player: Steve Morison my first season was 2009/10 which was the year we brought in Moro. Despite getting on now he is Millwall through and through.
Greatest Millwall moment: Leicester in the cup last year. The Den was rocking and the atmosphere in an over packed block 19 was incredible, oh and the last minute winner topped it off!
My thoughts on today’s game: I thought that was a proper Millwall display! Passion, hard work and team togetherness. When you play Millwall the one thing you can’t allow us to do is play to our strength which is being physical and up for a battle. Boro came here and tried to match that and tempers flared because of it. The reaction from the Millwall players was superb and two very well taken goals as well. Archer has flapped the ball yet again, not sure how he got back in the side and I expect Martin to be between the sticks against Derby. Still not sure why we go into a 4-5-1 formation when only 2-1 up, I mean it gets the job done but I’m standing there for the next 20 on my toes!
My thought on the season so far: Let’s be honest financially we are punching well above our weight in this division however we have such a good team togetherness and £50 million pounds can’t buy that as proven today. The only problem is buying players because they need to have that extra bit of quality, but also mould into our unique squad well. I see us doing well if we can get a left winger and a striker, if we get them 2 positions sorted with some real quality then who knows where we could end up? Just not down the cafe!