Taking two parts, the first half began with a brief introduction of Mike Calvin. A leading sports journalist with the Sunday Mirror, he has covered all of the major sports events of recent years. He wanted however to do something that got inside ‘the soul’ of what he called real football. Knowing Kenny from his childhood in Watford, he pitched the idea of an access all areas season with the Lions to try to write something that got under the skin of the game. A risky decision for MFC, but having read the book, I have to pay tribute to his achievement.
I wasn’t taking notes being more focused on enjoying the evening so this is all from memory, but the main points that I picked up on were:
- Both Robbo and Bomber have post-career managerial ambitions (with Millwall if there’s a vacancy).
- Both came to the club from non Millwall backgrounds, but both feel themselves to be very much part of ‘the family’
- The power of the the Lions Roar at Millwall is incredible. The Huddersfield play-off game in particular was referred to as the loudest atmosphere either have experienced. Its potential to intimidate opponents and to urge on Millwall players cannot be overstated.
- Andy D’Urso is a west ham fan.
Half time consisted of sausages and mash. The quality was not bad either. Ok the catering at MFC will never trouble Gary Rhodes, but it was a very passable and filling way to absorb the lager.
The second half comprised John Berylson and Kenny Jackett – both of whom received standing ovations as they entered the lounge. Once again interviewed by Calvin, I was struck by the quiet passion with which KJ speaks. He has an ability to be at times quite philosophical about life, business and football that makes for very interesting listening. The old cliché of still waters running deep seems to fit his bill very well. Again the main points were:
- KJ is not under ANY financial pressure to sell or trade any player. If he does, then it will be for football reasons and not financial ones.
- KJ is an ambitious man who wants to manage at the highest levels. He is flattered by the praise and the outside interest, but he also knows that football is a fickle game. The pat on the back is usually followed by the kick up the arse (his words).
- JB has very much caught the Millwall bug and sees himself as a fan as much as a businessman. He is well aware of the dangers of the two becoming too closely linked.
- KJ feels that we are ‘very close’ to having a side that can make a run at the top six. He said we’re not quite there (yet), but the percentages needed to improve are small. I got every sense that January will show KJ and JB’s mettle on this. I expect a ‘go’…
Overall I thought this was a fantastic and very enjoyable evening. We are very lucky to have a chairman like John Berylson supplying the financial stability - and a shrewd manager like Kenny Jackett who uses that platform so wisely.
Well done to everyone involved for putting together such an insightful, interesting and enjoyable event.