Barry Kitchener, Harry Cripps, Teddy Sheringham, Terry Hurlock, Tim Cahill, Neil Harris, Paul Robinson. There have been many players who, whenever Millwall fans reminisce, will eloquently wax lyrical about how these are some of the greatest/hardest/most terrifying players they have ever seen at the Old and New Den. Players who we remember growing up watching wishing we could be, who we would cheer and chant their names from the stands and terraces. But what about the others? The players who when we find old programmes in the garage, we would flip it over and have completely forgotten that these players played a part in successful teams of the past. The ‘Steady Eddies’ who may not have scored hat-tricks or hit crunching tackles every week, but those who were reliable and wouldn’t let you down.
For this edition of Unsung Heroes, we look back at a player who ran around as enthusiastically as Adam West in the classic 60's TV Series. Holy Cold Blow Lane Batman! It's Shaun Batt!
After making appearances for what seemed to be all of the non-League clubs in the South East of England, among those being Stevenage Borough, Dagenham & Redbridge, Ilford, Leyton, East Thurrock United and Fisher Athletic, Shaun Batt joined Millwall originally on loan from Peterborough United in January 2010. Although a player who could play on the right wing if required, Batt was brought in as injury cover for both Gary Alexander and Neil Harris.
It could not have started better for our Caped Crusader who scored on his debut in the Lions' 2-0 home win against Southend United. The victories and good form continued for the South London side for the rest of the season and Batt featured heavily, only losing twice in his seventeen games for Millwall and scoring two more which included a wonder goal in the 2-0 away win against Leeds United and in the 4-0 home win against Gillingham. Like the Bat signal which shone over Gotham City, our Batt-man was a beacon of light in a strong and combative Millwall side and although he did not feature in the two Play-Off semi finals against Huddersfield Town, the winger returned for the final against Swindon Town in a game which saw the Lions 1-0 winners.
Sensing the good that our masked vigilante had done since his arrival, the home fans were delighted when the wide-man signed a three-year deal prior to Millwall's return season back in the Championship. Speaking at the time, Batt commented, "It was an easy decision to make, things went well for me from when I first came here and I've had great support from manager Kenny Jackett, Joe Gallen and everyone else." Unfortunately for our former loanee, his season was over before it had even started. Appearing for the South London side in a pre-season friendly against AFC Wimbledon, the winger went down under a heavy tackle in the first half and was stretchered off the field. A scan confirmed lateral ligament and muscle damage to the young summer signing and a season long spell on the sidelines was what the doctor ordered.
After a delay in his recovery due to more surgery to remove scar tissue, Batt's silhouette cast over the streets of Bermondsey and he was back to share his vengeance against a game that had criminally nearly robbed him of his potential and ability. The winger returned for Millwall's two FA Cup games against Dagenham and Redbridge, however due to not being able to establish himself back in the first team, Batt went on a pilgrimage to the cold and bleak settings of Crawley Town to gain much needed match fitness in February 2012. After several games in the English fourth tier, he returned for the final games of Millwall's season and featured against in the home victories against Hull City, Leicester City, the away win at Ipswich Town and the home draw with Blackpool, although all of these were from the substitute's bench. Batt finished his comeback from injury with six appearances for Millwall in the 2011 - 2012 season, but due to his lack of playing time, he could not contribute any goals in the Lions' campaign.
The following season for the winger involved another loan spell in the lower leagues, but the games increased for the popular attacker and so did the goals. In his first fixture of the season, Batt scored in the 2-2 home draw in the Capital One cup against his former side, Crawley Town and he featured in eleven of Millwall's early fixtures against the likes of Cardiff City, Crystal Palace and Bolton Wanderers, although these appearances all again came from the substitute's bench. Due to the influx of strikers and attacking options throughout the season including the likes of Chris Taylor, Andy Keogh, Martyn Woolford, Chris Wood and Darius Henderson, Batt realised he would need to spend some time out on loan to get valuable game time and joined Leyton Orient on a short term deal. After receiving plaudits whilst at the East London club, which included three goals in twelves games against Southend United, Portsmouth and Carlisle United, Batt was recalled by Kenny Jackett and featured another eight times for the Lions including the FA Cup Semi-Final against Wigan Athletic and scoring in the 1-0 home win against Watford. At the end of the 2012 - 13 season, Batt had mustered nineteen appearances for the Lions, scoring two goals in all competitions.
The winger was released at the end of the 2012 - 13 season and joined Leyton Orient in the summer that year. After a number of appearances which were reduced due to injury, he was released by the O's and has since played for Barnet, Chelmsford City and now plies his trade at East Thurrock United.
In all, our Caped Crusader featured in forty-two games for Millwall and scored five goals in his spell at the club. Our Batt-man's time at the club may have been brief and ended with cameos shorter than the superhero's screen time in the Dark Knight Rises, but he will be fondly remembered as a player who always gave his all and worked tirelessly to climb out of that underground prison of a career-threatening injury.