Derby 1-0 Millwall ~ Match Musings

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By Christ and all that is holy, that was a s close to torture as we have come from a few years following the Lions up and down the country. The permutations of what could send us down were freely being bandied about and although the odds did seem to be in our favour, it was abundantly clear that a) we knew we could fuck things up and b) the Gods of football do like a laugh.

Me and MrsB set off in the morning sunshine but as we progressed up the sun drenched M1 the storm clouds gathered and before we even got to Toddington for some sustenance the rain was falling with all the alacrity of a punishing God looking to wipe the land of naughtiness. It was pissing down…

A grim metaphor for the day ahead, maybe, we battled on gamely as the rain swept motorway offered little comfort as pride park drew ever closer.

It was going to be a day of watching mobile phone updates rather than watching a game of football, other teams having the power over us is not an uncommon end to a Millwall season, we have been there before, but it still has the power to turn grown men into gibbering wrecks as the drama unfolds.

Derby is not your usual northern shithole, I quite like our trips to this neck of the woods, the locals are usually friendly and the ground is worthy of being called a stadium, it is easy to park and easy to get away after the game despite (as in this instance) some 25,000 odd fans in attendance. They are, unfortunately, still in the throes of self-flagellation for letting Brian Clough go and make Forest a huge success and have the look of a race of people who all married the wrong sister.

About a 1000 Millwall fans had made the short-ish journey to see if the death throes of championship football would be played out in the final ninety minutes of, what can only be described as, a very mundane season. I still shudder to think how we actually ended up in this precarious position but in truth the evidence has been there, week in, week out throughout most of 2013. One game at a time, poor result after poor result, it is patently obvious to an outsider looking in that we were relegation fodder but on the inside looking out, you always feel you are in with a chance.

Mr Jackett, it is fair to say, has been treated very kindly by the Millwall faithful, other managers with better records have been given short shrift from our notoriously critical fans and you would hope that it is appreciated. There have been times this season where the strains of “One Kenny Jackett” have struggled out of the lips of so many dedicated followers but nonetheless, if nothing else, it does impart a level of understanding by our lot that borders on tragic.

The chopping and changing of line ups and formations, some enforced, others by choice, really has meant that we went into this game completely oblivious as to what Mr Jackett considers our best formation/team and that must be a worry. We can all compile lists of players to keep and players to go but we are rank amateurs in this field and Mr Jackett is the professional. He must take stock and he must see what we see, week in week out plus much more at the training ground.

The team he choose for this make or break (unless other results deem otherwise) game was as follows: Forde in goal, Lowry, Shittu, Beevers and Dunne at the back, Feeney, Trotter, St Ledger and Wright in the midfield with Keogh and Batt up front.

It was to be a long afternoon…

Referee Madeley got the game going as the sunshine made a re appearance and the Millwall faithful found their collective voices to cheer the lads over the finishing line. We started off like a team whose fate was already sealed, lacklustre and lethargic, but it was the Lions who had the first attempt at goal seemingly out of nowhere we strung a few well-chosen passes together between Keogh and Batt before the ball fell kindly to Trotter whose shot was blocked by Derby’s Keogh.

It was short lived encouragement. Derby, although playing like a team that didn’t have a care in the world, looked far more capable and at times you felt they were only in second gear. We huffed and puffed as they strolled around playing some very tidy football but as long as we were drawing the emphasis was on trying to get a fucking signal on our phones to see what was happening elsewhere.

The news was encouraging but suddenly it all changed as news that Barnsley had taken the lead at Huddersfield, not quite wrist slitting time as long as palace didn’t do anything stupid against Peterborough…

Batt had to go off on twenty minutes, another infernal injury problem and he was replaced by Easter.

On the half hour mark, Palace showed just how fucking stupid they could be as news filtered through that Peterborough had taken the lead, but as long as we were drawing, we were safe.

Forde pulled off a truly spectacular close range save after Derby’s Keogh git his head to a free kick as once again we were caught out, or almost caught out, by a set piece. It was all getting a bit too intense as a single Derby goal would open up the trap door as things stood.

We managed to get through to half time with the score still at 0-0 so now our fate rested in the last forty five minutes of the season as we heard that palace had pulled their fingers out and had equalised against the Posh to cheer us up, which sounds perverse but there you go, a palace goal was met with smiles instead of derision, such was the situation we were in..

So, the final 45 of the season was upon us and if we could keep a clean sheet it and it mattered not one jot what happened elsewhere.

We came out with a bit more purpose at last looking like a team with something to prove, we attacked the home side vigorously and the support was excellent, spurring the lads on and Easter almost scored from an acrobatic attempt at a scissor kick, Coutts clearing off the line with ‘keeper Legzdins well beaten, it was encouraging stuff from the Lions at long last.

It got easier to bear when we heard that our old hate figure, Beckford had equalised against Barnsley for Huddersfield so now we were comfortable at 0-0 and we started to finally believe that we were not going to go down.

Millwall’s Keogh went close with a stooping header and then Easter had a shot deflected for a corner as we started to get a gripn the game. We forced numerous corners but Derby defended well from each of them as we still kept glancing nervously at our phones for updates that would make this game a dead rubber.

Lowry was up next with a blistering 30 yarder that skimmed over the bar and Trotter fluffed his lines from close range from yet another Millwall corner.

News came in that Peterborough had taken the lead at Palace so finger nail chewing time was back with us and then we got the news that Barnsley had gone ahead again at Huddersfield and you could hear arseholes tightening all around the away section.

Into the last ten minutes of the game/season now and it all came together in the next few minutes. First up we heard that Vaughn had equalised for Huddersfield and soon after Phillips had done likewise for Palace. All we had to do was see out our game now but as you would expect for Millwall, disaster simply had to strike and it surely did with barely six minutes to go we watched as Derby substitute Sammon tippy toed through our defence and slotted the ball past the stricken Forde. 1-0. Stunned silence in the away section, heads bowed down, not in misery but at the fucking mobile phones again, we needed some good news from other games and we needed it fast.

In truth, we never really was in any danger of going down, we didn’t know it for sure at the time but at no [point did we ever drop into the danger zone. Huddersfield and Barnsley were satisfied with a draw and Palace had the good grace to bang in a winner in the 89th minute so despite our fears and reservations, it was all good news for us.

At the final whistle we celebrated the fact that we were safe for another season but the truth of the matter is that we had fuck all to with it in this game. We had lost but it didn’t feel like a defeat, a very strange feeling indeed.

The players came over to show their thanks and we had a laugh when St Ledger lobbed one of his boots into the crowd and it came straight back at him. It was noticeable that Trotter barely made any effort to say thanks to the fans support, choosing to offer a half-hearted clap or two before turning tail and wandering off. In fact, he showed about as much enthusiasm as he had done playing all season.

So, Championship football had been secured by default and a lot of soul searching will now be required by the management at Millwall. Changes are due and they need to be done quickly as we cannot afford to start next season with the squad we have.

It has been a tough old campaign this time round and although we have had some highs I think the lows have won the day this time round.

I guess in perspective we have only achieved one less point than we did last season which either means we were just as bad last time round or other teams just got better.

I am sure I am not alone in waving goodbye to season 12-13, it has been arduous and gruelling at times with little or no real comfort from the FA Cup run into the semi-final. I have tried to capture my thoughts with these scribbling’s but at times it has been more like hard work than a labour of love.

I hope you have at least enjoyed some of the stuff I have jotted down and with a summer break coming up I have a chance to recharge my batteries and I hope our team does likewise. When we are doing well, these things virtually write themselves for me so I am hoping for an easy ride next time round!

Thank you all for the kind comments throughout the season, they are much appreciated, you have no idea how much a 0 comment status hurts the ego!

Last Shakespeare quote coming up, next season I shall be moving on to Terry Pratchett quotes…

Sonnet 18
"Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date".
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    Summed it all up perfectly as usual,well done and thanks for your efforts over the season.Onwards and upwards next term I hope COYL
    Nice one. Always enjoy your musings, especially if I get delayed in the bar at half time and miss something important
    I've really enjoyed your musings all season. Let's hope next season brings more opportunity for levity!
    Good stuff as ever sir. Enjoy the break and let's hope for a better season next time around.
    excellent musings - looking forward to the Terry Pratchett quotes already, not sure about the football though if the same as last year