"And the winners are..."
Her freckled index finger slowly wraps around her long, brunette pig-tail that is coming out of the side of her head. The top of her scalp is meeting the glare of the growing queue, who are getting increasingly more agitated by the bright pink bubble that has been shaped by her chewed gum. I look over smirking, knowing that the new young waitress has already served me my builder’s strength tea and full fry-up, although the effort she put in personally left a lot to be desired.
“Samantha!” came a loud shout from behind the till, “you going to stand there all day checking your bloody nails or you going to serve that fella his bacon sandwich?”
“Listen, Aunt Sandra,” Samantha shouted back, “I’ve just come back from my lunch and got my nails done in Charlotte Clinton’s. Honestly, the way she does manicures is unreal and I’m not chipping these gems on anything.”
“Samantha Patchcole!” Sandra yelled back, “who do you think you are, the Millwall players showing off their Player of the Year trophies?! Get that poor gent’s bubble and squeak ready and spit that chewing gum out! Steve Cavalar will be here in a minute and I need you to help me make room for the hash browns.”
“How are you feeling after the end of season dinner, Sandra?” I ask whilst I guide the last piece of white toast into my bean juice.
“I had a great time Mike,” Sandra smiled, “I’m delighted for Shaun Hutchinson for winning the Player of the Year, I voted for him you know. Also, I’m really happy that Jake Cooper picked up Neil Harris’ Young Player of the Year award too. Just goes to show how highly our defence has been thought of this year.”
“I think they’ve both had great years,” I agree, “and I’m also happy my choice for Player of the Year came runner-up. Most other years Jed Wallace would’ve won it, that’s why he got my vote. Where’s ‘Arry anyway?”
“You talking about that young fella who’s scared of the dog?” Samantha asks after another bubble pops between her lips, “he tried to put on an intimidating face when he walked in, but he ended up looking more like he was constipated. I started laughing so he stormed out with his Smash Hits magazine.”
“It wasn’t the same face he had on when we presented the trophy was it?” I chuckled, “he could’ve smiled when he gave the Grounds Staff their award. Really happy that they won the Special Service award, the pitch has been amazing this season.”
“I had a good night that’s for sure!” ‘Arry said as he shut the glass café door behind him. “The only thing that let me down this weekend was the ‘Boro result. Such a shame we couldn’t get a result there and that we are out the play-offs now. I thought we could’ve done it.”
“Me too mate,” I replied after getting out my iPad and checking the official club site for Neil Harris’ view. My left finger print smears across the glass as I find the page I need and click the bright blue hyperlink. “Neil Harris says that although he was disappointed with the goals, he didn’t think we were really under any pressure. He said the two goals were gifts and the lack of ability to keep clean sheets were down to schoolboy errors.”
“It wasn’t all doom and gloom though, was it Mike?” Sandra said as she made her usual slalom through the wooden varnished chairs with ‘Arry’s Grande coffee in a venti cup with 2 pumps hazelnut, 2 pumps vanilla, 2 pumps caramel, 2 equals and 4 sweet and lows filled to the top with cream, with extra cream on the side, double cupped with no sleeve, a stir stick, and stopper put in the top. “Chopper says we have been on a great run, but the quality of the two sides we’ve faced is a reality check and shows the gaps we need to improve on next season. Chopper is taking the positives and so am I!”
“It has been a good season, you’re right” I agree as I help Sandra make space for ‘Arry’s poached eggs on toast, “and it was also good to see Steve Kavanagh to get replies to his letters that he sent to the Mayoral candidates. It’s refreshing to see the letters online too, a lot of them say that they wouldn’t have anything to do with the CPO which is positive.”
“I’ve not read them all yet,” ‘Arry says in a puzzled way, trying to work out why his drink was given to him in a paper cup this week and not a ceramic mug. “You got last week’s programme Sandra? I haven’t read it.”
“Better cherish it mate if she has got one,” I say whilst my eyes adjust to the bright white background of the NewsatDen site. “Have you seen what it says here? They reckon the EFL are talking about stopping programmes altogether! I can’t believe it, I love the Millwall programme and the hard work the team put into it!”
“It’s ridiculous if you ask me,” Sandra huffs, “they say its due to the use of social media and the internet that the sales have gone down, but we need them here! These ceramic tiles that Dave put in for me before he went missing have buggered up the WIFI. Having no programmes on sale won’t work in here I tell you, Mike!”
“Well two names who may not be in the starting line-up that people write in the programmes are Mahlon Romeo and Ben Marshall,” I say without my eyes leaving the screen, “Romeo is definitely out after coming off injured against ‘Boro and Ben Marshall is a doubt too.”
“Let’s not forget George Saville!” Samantha screams from inside of the Lucozade fridge. “’Ere ‘Arry, aren’t you meant to know all about the Lionesses? What’s been happening with them this week?”
A rather enjoyable end of season dinner on Sunday night saw some of the Lionesses and the staff make the trip from the north of London down The Den to celebrate what had been a successful season so far. Drinks at a premium, and no I was not on any form of coffee. Instead I drank Hop House 13 with a few Sambucas and Jagerbombs for good measure! A good night turned into a memorable one and if you missed out on our Instagram story the next day, then you definitely missed out on all the fun. Not only all that, but I was over the moon to see Greasy Spoon alumni Jordan Butler pick up the PFA Women's Community Champion of the Year and Mike's favourite player Megan Wynne pick up Player of the Season. I wonder if it's because we interviewed her Dad, Gareth, and she rewarded us with some stellar performances. I reckoned we should arrange interviews with them both, but I think Mike might get a bit tongue tied chatting to Meg!
My recovery has gone well, just like how the Lionesses recovered from their first defeat in over a year to completely smash Watford 4-0. I bet the drinks after were worth it as well...
As I sat in the cafe with a booming headache, sore throat and the regret of going out drinking 3 nights in a row. I leant over to Mike who looked rather healthier I must say. “After missing out on the game this Sunday, they seemed to have bounced back very well” I said.
"Yeah you're right," Mike agreed, "I think it was on the cards but a good performance and one that they can tick off and move on from. A quick brace from Ash, think that was faster than a coffee next to you lasts..."
"A key start was important to the game," I replied, "to kill them off in the first 10 and just try to add as many as possible before the end of the game."
"It was glad to hear such positive words at the end of season dinner from Lee Burch, Neil Harris and Steve Kavanagh." Mike continued, "hopefully that will help them hopefully attract some more attention, they fully deserve it!"
"With 3 games to go and 5 points adrift, it will be a ask but there is no reason they can’t." I proudly announced, "I have a lot of faith in the side and Sunday’s game should be a classic. I say classic, but I’ll take 1-0 sloppy own goal. 3 points is 3 points after all."
"Pinch punch its goal of the month!" Mike chirped, "who won it in the end it, I saw it was a close run in?!"
"It was Leighanne Robe’s last minute winner against Villa and what I finish!" I shouted, "I’m not sure there will be a more emotional ending to a game like that one was. That was like when Sandra put 3 slices of bacon on my plate for the price of two, you just don’t forget those memorable moments!"
"The run in is massive and I’m so excited," Mike said, at the same 100mph he spoke to Jake Cooper at one Sunday. "9 points is a possibility and if they do I’ll buy them all a coffee, you heard it here first!"