Fan on the Board Reports - 2013

December

We are now 17 games in with 17 points it’s so frustrating we played well against 3 of the teams in the top 6 Burnley, Reading and QPR taking a point from each of them only to get turned over by Bolton who are struggling as we are, it appears we are playing better against the stronger teams. The Leicester game we were given a real lesson, Dyer terrorised us, I hope we can get things back on track tonight. League position isn’t great we all know.

The erratic start to the season is really annoying at times as I personally can see spells of good flowing football, I ask myself is it the team, looking at the squad we have a lot more quality than ever before, proven goal scorers and players who have performed at a high level. Tactically with injuries and suspensions has SL been able to name a settled squad at any time, perhaps this is the problem. Are the players struggling to cope with the new management regime, Kenny was a very quiet man, SL is very passionate and in your face, perhaps the change in management style is the problem with the players finding it hard to adjust, there are so many valid excuses for our current form, singling one out will be hard.

I’ve had a few emails and seen a few on line postings on the unofficial webs sites, asking whether as the fans representative on the board if I pass the feelings of the fans to the board especially at the moment in regards the teams below par performances.

All I know and this is on a personal note the next few game coming up to Christmas will make or break us.

On the recruitment side of all staff both managers and players it is not as cut and dried as we the fans think, for instance when Kenny resigned we had just fought of a relegation battle that had lasted till the last day of the season, we had all the bad press about racism on Sky and the scenes at Wembley. Taking all this into account not all managers would be queuing at the door to take a position with us, we were not a good proposition. Tried and tested managers would worry about damaging their reputations and up and coming managers could worry that they wouldn’t be able to turn us round and therefore not look good on their CV. Whatever your views on Steve Lomas at least he had the guts to put his head above the parapet and give it a go, he knew it was going to be a hard challenge that was without taking into account his previous club history. Only time will tell if he has enough about him to turn things around. It’s a similar thing with players players leave clubs and fans are baffled at times or players become available and are not approached, people see this as a lack of interest or commitment from the board or manager, this isn’t always the case, there are things that go on behind the scenes in football that stay behind the scenes sometimes things happen that do not make certain players such an attractive proposition as we see it. I can see the reason behind the “secrecy” if a player/manager has an issue if it is publicised then there is no chance of moving him on. I am not pointing to anyone currently at the club just trying to give fellow fans a bit of an insight I have picked up over my time on the board.

Finally I do bring the majority view to the board at all times, on all topics relating to Millwall. Its a long day today as we have the AGM, regular monthly board meeting and then the game. I will be bringing up all our concerns at today's meeting.

The best way to contact me and if anyone has any issues they wish to discuss, please drop me a line at petergarston@hotmail.com or via the club.

July

Well, the new season is upon us and since my last report a lot has happened, notably the departure of Kenny Jackett. Kenny leaving was a shock to everyone concerned especially as he was offered a vastly improved budget for this season, JB and the board were aware that we needed more fire power and that was the reason for the increase, Kenny felt strongly that he had taken us as far as he could. I know everyone else would wish him all the best for the future. I personally know the effort he put into Millwall and he left us in a far better condition than when he arrived.

We knew the search for a new manager of the same calibre was going to be hard, within hours lists of potential replacements were drawn up, the board knew knee jerking wasn’t an option, the lists comprised of applicants, ex Millwall people, employed managers and unemployed managers, the list was whittled down eventually to a short list. Getting a new manager isn’t easy many things need to be taken into account, I hear people saying we should get him or him, when there are valid reasons they are not viable, it maybe their salary expectation, their requirement to stay in a certain area (up north). Their experience, their knowledge of us as a club, the expectations of us the fans and the board must see a passion and desire to succeed. Although most of us would give up anything to manage Millwall, other people outside the Millwall family only see it as a job and therefore a lot of boxes need to be ticked before accepting.

It was very frustrating that the moment Kenny resigned people were on the boards case saying they would go for the cheap option, it was a case of damned if you do damned if you don’t, if the board rushed someone in it would have been seen as kneejerk, if they employed from within it would have been the cheap option. The process followed in my opinion was correct and followed at all time, whatever decision the board take it is always in the board opinion for the best of club, there are financial restraints at all club. If the board wanted to get in a cheap option believe me they wouldn’t have set the bar so high in the first place. I know that the season hasn’t started but the calibre of player Steve Lomas has brought in and the commitment I have seen I am sure the board have taken the right decision.

Once there was a short list the next stage was to arrange interviews (plus contacting any the potential managers club if required) this wasn’t as easy as it sounds due to the fact our Chairman lives in Boston and one of the potential managers lived in Central Europe so interviews were held in London and Paris, I was not involved in the interview process as I had just started a new job, but each day after the any interview I was called and advised of how they went. It became clear early on that Steve Lomas was well ahead of the other candidates for several reasons, his knowledge of the Millwall team and the knowledge of what Millwall fans expect from anyone who has a position at Millwall.

When I had my first meeting with SL I was impressed with his attitude and how positive he was, I hope he can transfer that to the team and eventually to the pitch. We spoke at length of his vision for Millwall and he is determined to get Millwall playing football and get us to succeed. I mentioned that I thought that the fact SL has a prior connection with West Ham was a good thing as he knew exactly what Millwall fans were about and what was expected with him, his response was blunt and straight to the point, I am ginger I come from Northern Ireland I am used to stick, I just can’t wait to get out there pull my shoulders back and show the fans what I can do, I felt SL was a very decent man if it wasn’t for his previous football connections I would go as far as saying if I met him in a pub I would call him “one of your own” he doesn’t seem the man to suffer fools gladly and I would put him in the mould of a smaller version of Terry Hurlock.

The board have been really encouraged by SL’s contacts within the game and the speed he has managed to get players in, the signing of Steve Morison was a great boost. Having Neil Harris a part of the back room staff is an added bonus and his passion to succeed and Millwall knowledge can do us nothing but good. Mick Harford choosing us over Newcastle is another pointer to the fact we are becoming a team that knowledgeable football professionals want to be part of.

Steve has already moved very swiftly in the transfer market attracting high calibre players to Millwall I think he has set his stall out and shown his intent to succeed, the one difference I can see from Kenny is the speed, my experience has been with Kenny that a lot of the signings we done very late and nearer the beginning of the season, with Steve’s speed the team will have more time to settle in and gel prior to the real thing starting.
I spoke to Steve about players who were fringe and his plans for them, he said that everyone will have a chance to prove themselves no matter what has happened with them under Kenny, he believes all players are entitled to a second chance and if they show the correct commitment they will be given the chance to win the fans back over if needed. It is then up to them to show they have the passion and guts to be part of the Millwall team, I think an example is Dany N’Guessan who has showed a lot more fight and passion in preseason.

I tried to get Steve to commit to his preference regards Pie and Mash, I tried to push him towards Aments but he was having none of it, he couldn’t believe fans could be split over the choice of pie and mash!

The family enclosure has been moved to the Dockers stand as from the beginning of next season, the initial decision was not publicised very well and fans not given the option to air their views prior to the decision being taken. The decision to move the enclosure was made at board level but no further details were discussed at board level as to where it was to be moved. There were a number of complaints mainly because of the lack of consultation, I initially agreed to arrange a meeting for everyone to come in and meet Alan Williams the new Commercial Director for him to discuss the reasons behind the new location, Alan called everyone who had complained and was able to allay their fears and explain the reasoning behind the move. There was an issue that a lot of fans were not happy with regards attendance at night games without young children who were connected to the Family Enclosure membership, the club listened to fans concerned and changed the ruling. Looking over the whole issue it was a communication issue that has know been dealt with and hopefully the new Family Enclosure will go from strength to strength and bring in the new young fans and family we need to grow the fan base for future years, I have sat down and discussed the whole issue with Alan Williams he has some great ideas and a lot of experience in this area and is passionate about seeing the new family enclosure flourish and bring in the new families we so need. I think everyone concerns are now more aware how key fan club communication is for the smooth transition of any project.

Last season’s against Bolton where there was an allegation of a young Millwall fan racially abusing a black Bolton player. This became a very emotive issue for all concerned, I hope this has now finally been put to bed, I had a quick chat with the young lad concerned and his mum, they were both really pleased with how it was handled and the final outcome. She thanked everyone for their support, she was very vocal in her support for the course, the people running it and the positive impact it had on her son in his all round life. The boy is currently deciding if he wants to work as a volunteer with the community scheme which has happened because of the course. This has been a great turn around for all concerned as at the beginning there were a lot of sceptics but the actual results have proved it was the correct route to take. The annoying thing is the community scheme support local youngster week in and week out helping them with many life issues, the press never seem to highlight that when they do their regular damning reports on Millwall.

The friendlies are now over and in my opinion we improved game on game a convincing win against Crawley and then a 3-0 defeat at Brentford, the Brentford game I felt we looked a lot better as time when on in the first half but, in the second half all the substitutions didn’t help to get the team playing as a team. These games are mainly to get the players match fit, let hope on the first day they are not only match fit but able to take the points. Against Gillingham we played very well first half Morison and Keogh played very well together and I thought Scott Malone did very well and was man of the match.

Robbo’s testimonial went really well and was very well deserved he is a model pro and a gentleman. Let’s hope he gets back to full fitness and challenges for his place in the near future. A good turn out so a hard fought battle, it can only be called a feisty affair, with the Millwall team seeming to have an added tenacity to win tackles at all costs.

Once again I was proud to be a Millwall fan during the minutes silence for the 79 people who lost their lives in the recent train tragedy in Spain; it was impeccable just like others we have done, more recently for Gary Speed at Leeds.

The board’s decision to donate this year’s shirt sponsorship to the charity Prostrate Cancer UK is commendable as every fan will have been in some way touched by Cancer at some time in their life. I hope the next time the press do a piece on Millwall they remember to put something about this decision instead of trawling the archives for pictures of the Luton game!

If anyone has any issues they wish to discuss, please drop me a line at petergarston@hotmail.com or via the club.


 

Millwall Supporters Club, c/o The Den, Zampa Road, London SE16 3LN  -  phone: 07895 022 325  -  email: info@millwallsupportersclub.co.uk

 


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