"So you're the one that the Boss keeps talking about...."
It is 2005 and Shadow Moses has fallen. A rogue, breakaway army codenamed FOXHOUND has seized control of the small territory and is threatening to destroy all those around them by unleashing their impenetrable weapon of mass destruction, Metal Gear REX. Those in power have tried everything they can to reason with these madmen, but to no avail. Realising their only chance of survival and recovery falls on the shoulders of just one man, the American in charge picks up his codec and makes the call. The man on the end of the call is the only one who can save them, a legend who has defied the odds and stood victorious when triumph seemed impossible and the one man who never surrendered no matter what life threw at him.
Now who does this remind you of?
The water breaks and Snake quietly sneaks in to the base, ensuring that his presence is not picked up and causing a distraction. In the classic stealth way, he does not attack at first opportunity, but bides his time patiently and avoiding any type of confrontation until he is settled into the surroundings. The sentries patrolling know that his presence is imminent, but they are unsure exactly when it will be that he will strike.
Only 8 years after Shadow Moses was taken, the club legend joined the Millwall backroom staff in 2013, amidst a period of seeming anarchy and uncertainty. Neil Harris made his presence as unknown as possible, careful picking up the experience as he went along, like Snake picked up rations and ammunition. The critics and press were patrolling The Den around Steve Lomas, knowing that his time in the base in South London was numbered and it wouldn’t be long until Bermondsey’s Solid Snake would make his presence known.
Snake was slowly defeating his enemies with silent success, the Genome Soldiers were no match for the legendary infiltrator and the mission was going as planned. Revolver Ocelot was quickly defeated and although the DARPA Chief and President of ArmsTech did not survive these encounters, Snake progressed with his mission and took responsibility when his superiors around him were no more. Similarly in Zampa Road, when Steve Lomas was shown the way out, Neil Harris continued with his mission. He may not have had the experience of management similar to the position Snake found himself in, but like the veteran soldier, he knew what was expected in this battle and what the Millwall fans expected of him as a man. Out of his depth, he decided to listen to his suited superiors and take charge until reinforcements arrived.
Another soldier was trapped in a cell alongside Snake and after helping her escape from her cell, they joined forces and formed a formidable partnership. Meryl was the support Snake needed, someone who knew the base and would ensure the mission to overthrow FOXHOUND and the Genome Army would be efficacious. Snake may have had more experience than Meryl on the battlefield and in the heat of action, but Meryl would be the one who would help get him through the combat. As they progressed through the enemy base, Meryl became possessed by the terrifying Psycho Mantis who took over her mind and actions and she never recovered, even though Snake had managed to wrestle this psychotic mind control from her. In a near identical way, Ian Holloway was a manager who was trapped in a nearby prison to The Den and he managed to escape the cell of nearby Selhurst Park. Managing to break out from Crystal Palace, Holloway was the man who many thought that Neil Harris would learn from, especially when the new Millwall manager ensured that the former Millwall soldier would remain in his backroom staff. The two were progressing well and seemed like the Lions were on the up, however after a bad run of results, Ian Holloway was taken over by the same power that had possessed Meryl, and Millwall’s season came crashing down. After questionable decisions that ultimately led to relegation to the third tier, Holloway was captured and taken away and again left Harris to take control of the mission, seemingly alone.
Snake gets captured and tortured, all he needs to do is surrender to the pain that is being inflicted on him by the sadistic Revolver Ocelot but he does not give the FOXHOUND second-in-command the satisfaction. Although the suffering feels like it is going on forever, Snake endures the agony that Ocelot is delivering and is thrown into a cell. After speaking with his superiors, he knows what he needs to do: pull himself together, prove he is capable of the challenge and defeat all those that stand in the way.
Escaping from the cell, Snake defeats the dangerous Sniper Wolf, the physically imposing Vulcan Raven and makes his way to the ultimate target that must be defeated – Metal Gear REX himself. During the final historic battle, a former trusted warrior who previously fought at Snake’s side saves the day and Snake is left standing in the ruins of Shadow Moses. He is exhausted, war torn and badly injured, but he is victorious and is reaping the rewards of defeating a seemingly invincible force. The American on the other end of the line calls him and thanks him for his efforts, reassuring him that he was always the man for the job and will become a legend who will be spoken about for generations.
After Holloway left the inexperienced manager in peril, Neil Harris tried to continue the battle but his valiant effort wasn’t enough. Harris was captured by the grasps of League One football and was tortured by a level of football that he strongly felt he could lead Millwall away from. The pain was horrific and the defeat at Wembley was just as painful as Ocelot’s merciless ways, but Chopper channelled his inner Solid Snake and did not give in. After speaking with his superiors and American Colonel, John Berylson, Harris decided to keep fighting to return stability to the club. After disposing of a number of scalps in League One, Harris and his team stood in front of the Metal Gear Solid REX that had defeated them the year before – Wembley Stadium. After a historic final battle where a former trusted warrior saved the day from close range, the Lions were victorious with Bradford City and the Wembley demons both defeated. Harris’ American superior confirmed he was always the right man for the job and although he was a legend in previous battles on the playing surface, he was now a legend who will be spoken about for generations.
Neil Harris has proven that those two years in League One were not a fluke and that he is more than capable of leading Millwall into the future. The Lions were a force to be reckoned with when we returned to the Championship and although favourites to go down, Harris’ side not only survived but nearly left the English second tier via promotion to the Premier League. The football is entertaining, there is a togetherness like never before and this is all down to the confidence that the manager has instilled into this team. After years of instability, anarchy and confusion, Millwall are a club who have a real leader in place who like Solid Snake was born in the field of battle and knows exactly what it takes to be victorious. Harris is a warrior, a man of honour and more importantly a manager who knows what exactly he wants from his players.
Millwall fans were delighted when the news broke that our club legend had signed an extension to his already fantastic three and a half years in South Bermondsey and as the soundtrack to the 1998 classic video game so fittingly puts it - The Best is Yet to Come…..