"Man it's a hot one, like seven inches from the midday sun."
The sun is radiating on to my lightly tanned forearms that are hanging out of my navy polo shirt outside the Millwall café. Dave is sat opposite me, his chubby knees knocking mine seemingly for the thousandth time as he struggles to get comfortable on the benches we do not usually find ourselves sat on. Sandra’s guard dog is also affected by the heat, deciding to lay fast asleep next to her metal dish that has her cool water in it. The large lorries with skips rattling on the back drive past us, and the exhaust fumes that are pouring out diesel fumes only add to the heat we are sitting in.
“How hot is it today, Mike?" Dave struggles to get out, “I thought we should sit outside here today instead of inside with the cookers and the deep fat fryer, but it’s warmer out here!”
“Tell me about it mate,” I reply, totally captivated by yet another bead of sweat that is running down the cheekbone of my slightly overweight friend, “but this is nothing to how warm it was at Dartford yesterday! An absolute scorcher wasn’t it? Yet that didn’t stop the lads performing. A 5-0 win against a side who were the talk of the non-league? A great effort in my opinion and we played really well.”
“It was a great game from our point of view I have to say,” I agreed, “and how good did the new kit look? I think it looks really smart and although not the royal blue of the old Captain Morgan days, I’ll be getting myself one. Anyway Dave, you never explained who that Irish fella was last week?”
“Oh, that was Jim Kelly from the local paper,” Dave said coyly, “he was one of the ones who bundled me into the back of the boot a few months back now and we went on a little……. holiday.”
“You never have told us where you went mate,” I enquired between sips of my builder’s strength tea that retained it’s heat in these scorching conditions, “where exactly was it that this Kelly fella took you to?”
“Well,” Dave said with his chin firmly attached to his chin like a piece of metal on a strong magnet, “he threw me in the boot and we went to…”
“Guys!” ‘Arry screamed excitedly as he ran through the door that led out of the café, “has anyone read News at Den with the Shaun Williams article? I think another promotion push is back on!”
“What makes you think that then, ‘Arry?” came a high-pitched voice from just behind my usually caffeine filled friend, “the only one I’ve read this week is that he wants to get to 50 points as soon as possible?”
“Yes, but did you keep reading it, Sandra?!” ‘Arry said as he snatched my iPad off of me to reload the article, “he said he wants to get there as soon as possible so we can continue on from last year!”
“Well let’s hope we don’t continue exactly how the season ended,” I warned as I took my iPad back, “it says about the Boro fixture at the bottom of the page and how we owe them one for beating us and effectively ending our push. But I do feel confident we won’t be struggling this season, regardless of what the bookies say!”
“Well Chopper has one eye on Championship survival this year, definitely,” Sandra says as she places down ‘Arry’s ice-cold 2/3 caff triple ristretto affogato venti, 2 pump mango 1 pump classic, 2%, mango to the second line, 3 scoops protein, 3 scoops berries, 2 scoop matcha, whole banana, double blended, with whip, caramel drizzle, salted caramel topping, vanilla bean frappuccino, “did you see the other article on News at Den? Basically, the jump from League One to the Championship was just too big and a few players who may’ve had a chance in League One if we stayed there, moved on. But as Harris says, there’s a new chance for a lot of the young players to develop with the under-23 side and to be fair Harry Donovan had a blinder against Dartford didn’t he?”
“It’s all go at the moment, Sandra my love,” I replied whilst in total amazement as to how ‘Arry had managed to spill his salted caramel down his white Taylor Swift t-shirt, “but we aren’t the only club who’s had a bit of movement. ‘Arry, what’s been happening with the Lionesses?”
While we wait for the Lionesses fixtures to be announced and a very quiet week in terms of ins and outs for the Lionesses, we were enlightened with the news of three pre-season friendlies the Lionesses would be involved in.
“It’s great to see the pre-season fixtures have been announced!” Mike said with delight, “and it will be interesting to see what the team plays like, bearing in mind we don’t actually have a manager yet!”
“It’s a good mix of opposition as well,” I agreed whilst using a wet wipe to get the sticky stain off my t-shirt, “Arsenal are a very strong premiership side and although Oxford will play in the third tier, we played against them last year in a close game. Coventry United play in tier three as well, but they are a decent side.”
The Lionesses played all three teams last season and from the five encounters, winning three but losing two, the two defeats both at the hands of Arsenal. While preseason won’t determine how the season will go, it will be interesting to see how the Lionesses set about their work for this season after the changes.
“I’m positive they can do well this season,” I said, “and with three very competitive sides in pre-season it should give some indication of where they are before the season starts!”
“They done well against all three of them last season,” Mike concurred, “yes they are arguably maybe not carrying that momentum anymore, but this is Millwall and we have to expect anything to happen.”
Arsenal won 5-2 and 1-0 against Millwall in the WSL Cup and the FA cup respectively, despite the Lionesses coming very close on both occasions. The Lionesses beat Coventry United in the round before the Arsenal game 4-1, a convincing performance by the Lionesses as Rianna Dean netted a hat trick. We will be hoping for more of the same when the Lionesses get their pre-season fixtures underway. Finally, Oxford. Millwall did the double over Oxford beating them 1-0 and 4-2. The two games were very different in truth, as the first game saw a very bland performance from both sides, however the game at Oxford saw a goal fest and some real attacking quality. We will be hoping for the latter to be the case in the Lionesses final pre-season game.
“Pre-season is all about getting the tactics right ready for the league season,” I said, “I’m excited for the new season and hopefully a lot of good will come from it, who knows we may do another unbeaten run?”
“If we do 15 games unbeaten,” Mike said, “I’ll streak at the men’s side last home game, let’s leave it at that!”
“Well we need to do go on a run without Meg,” I sighed, “did you see the news that Megan Wynne has left the club? It’s a real shame as she was an amazing player for us and will be a huge loss, but there’s a big move on the horizon as she has a huge future in the game.”
“That she does, mate,” Mike replied glumly, “she rightly won the Player of the Season last year and will be a big miss. Another strong player has left the Lionesses, but we need to look forward.”
“You’re right mate,” I said, “anyway, lets try and get the answer to what Jim did with Dave a while back….”