Fan on the Board Reports - 2016

February

Here we are, sixth in the League, scoring goals, Lee Gregory doing what strikers do!

When I look at our position I do wonder how we got there. We haven’t, until recently, gone on a long unbeaten run, and in my opinion we either play really well or poorly. There seems to be no middle ground, but however we’ve got there we're there, and creeping up like a silent assassin.

Neil and his backroom team have done an incredible job to get us winning games and there seems to be a great camaraderie amongst the team. Some people tend to forget the team is made up with a lot of young players and they should be applauded for stepping up to the plate and making a difference.

Jordan Archer has taken his chance when it came along and his performances have no doubt given Neil a headache with someone like David Forde on the bench pushing to get back in. And what a debut by Mahlon Romeo! When he got booked early on against Walsall I was sure Neil would take him off as the pressure would have been too much, and with the booking hanging over him he wouldn’t be able to play his natural game. Just shows what I know about football! His performance was solid and added to that he scored a great goal. Let’s hope he carries on the good work going forward.

On Saturday we played Rochdale and like many fans I was keen to chalk that one off the list of grounds I still needed to visit. I have now seen Millwall play at 90 out of the 92 clubs since 1970 and I know a lot of my friends are also on the same number, as is my brother who also has never missed a competitive match at the Den. Accrington and Morecambe left.

Just when you think things are going well on the pitch then the regen issue pops up again.

In 2014 we, the fans, successfully petitioned against the Council trying to reclaim parts of the car park and memorial garden.

The Council wanted to obtain Compulsory Purchase Orders so they could forcibly take back the leased land around the stadium and the Lions Centre and sell it to property developers Renewal. Thanks to the petition and our Defend Our Den campaign, we kicked that decision into touch for two years.

Now they’re looking to go for it again.

The Club was informed last month that Lewisham Council was going to consider the CPOs at a meeting of the Lewisham Mayor and Cabinet on 17th February. The final CPO documents were only made public six days ago. Since then the Club and its lawyers have been poring over them and developing its response. It turns out Renewal’s ultimate holding companies are actually registered offshore!

So this Wednesday, Lewisham’s Mayor and Cabinet will seek Compulsory Purchase Orders to take the land around the stadium currently leased to Millwall and the Millwall Community Trust and sell it to Renewal.

You can read the council’s documents here under the item New Bermondsey CPOs.

The Club is opposing it and our Chairman John Berylson has written to the Mayor and Cabinet urging them to reject the CPO proposals. As JB writes in his letter, which you can read by clicking here: “We face a challenge which threatens the Club’s very survival.”

We’re all in this together so please get your friends to sign this petition at www.defendourden.com, share it on Facebook and follow us on Twitter at @defendourden.

You can also email your views and objections to the Cabinet members at the following email addresses: steve.bullock@lewisham.gov.uk
cllr_alan.smith@lewisham.gov.uk
cllr_chris.best@lewisham.gov.uk
cllr_kevin.bonavia@lewisham.gov.uk
cllr_janet.daby@lewisham.gov.uk
cllr_joe.dromey@lewisham.gov.uk
damien.egan@lewisham.gov.uk
cllr_paul.maslin@lewisham.gov.uk
cllr_joan.millbank@lewisham.gov.uk
cllr_rachel.onikosi@lewisham.gov.uk

And you can also email our local MP vicky.foxcroft.mp@parliament.uk

Please be polite and courteous in your emails but do help us Defend Our Den!

Read more here.

FOTB Report - August 2015

The new season is upon us in the blink of an eye. I’m absolutely gutted about the relegation along with everyone else. When the board decided to break the bank to get in Ian Holloway I was over the moon and thought we would be pushing for promotion within two seasons, the gusto with which he came in and all the new plans I really thought we had cracked it. That proves what an unpredictable game football is. I long for the calmness of Kenny Jackett back, for me Kenny made Millwall a proper professionally run club. Although I felt at the time he left it had gone stale, I personally believe he would have kept us up. As for IH, what went wrong? I’ve gone over it and over it in my head, he had all the credentials to do it, we all know he was a maverick but I still think at the time he was taken on it was the right decision. In hindsight our divisional status proves otherwise.

One thing Kenny did say to me when he first came to Millwall was, “Football is cyclic and I think its Millwall’s time”. Let’s hope that we have hit the bottom and the upward cycle is about to begin.

One thing that has been consistent is John Berylson and the board’s commitment to Millwall, the recent waiver of £8.4m of interest is just another example. I attend every board meeting and can assure you that every decision that is taken is with the best interests of the club at heart.

Euroferries - well the boat didn’t come in on that one. For legal reasons that all I can say

The club do have to look far and wide for sponsors. Our “No one likes us” tag and the continuous negative press and TV coverage do not make us the first choice for sponsors to throw their hard earned money at, especially the bigger brands. We have to rely on the local brands normally with a Millwall connection like Wallis Teagan and CYC. It doesn’t help when we get one of the former Labour party leadership contenders, Mary Creagh, compare Jeremy Corbyn with Millwall in regards the no one likes us tag!

I’ve really enjoyed my time as FOTB, but due to the number of operations I’ve recently had,combined with certain side effects and the need to put food on the table, I have decided to pass a lot of the day to day FOTB work to the MSC whilst being available to support them. This is mainly dealing with the emails I get on a weekly basis, these range from requests for a review of any banning’s to asking if we can get the music played at half time changed to the Pot Black theme! Historically, I have dealt with all emails by contacting the club and speaking with whoever is the head of department to get to the bottom of any issue before reporting back to the person writing in. Sometimes the emails are suggesting players for Neil Harris, all I can do with these are pass them on and see what happens.

In the close season, obviously the number of emails drops to around five per week. A couple were about players signing, one was someone offering to go for a pint with John Berylson whilst the fan was visiting Boston (John couldn’t make it but suggested a local watering hole), one was a commercial idea that I have passed onto the board and another was a very well written articulate list of questions regards scouting and player selection, I answered as best I could but while the fan writing was happy I tried to answer he felt one or two of his points were not answered as well as they could be. I discussed it with Neil and Andy Ambler and they said we’ll have a chat with him if he can get to the training ground. I arranged it all and the fan wrote a letter of thanks and explained how his time at the training ground went. Here is his take on it:

“After becoming a little frustrated about our lack of movement in the transfer market and not being convinced we had enough to help our young players get through the upcoming season. I contacted Pete Garston looking at reasons why our recruitment department didn’t seem to be doing what we hoped it would for the start of this season. Pete as always returned with answers to my questions in the clearest possible way and give me reasons. But I still was looking for a more detailed insight of how the recruitment department was going to work so I was invited to meet Andy Ambler to discuss my points.

I arrived at the training ground and sat in reception waiting for Andy to meet me. As I sat there a voice said “Hello Mr Ellis, I knew you were coming” and as I look up, Neil Harris comes through and sat down with me. We had a great chat about Millwall and my boy’s football before he was due to take the team out to training. Sitting there with the legend took me back to when I met players from our old first division days and almost struggling to say anything. But Neil was an absolute gentleman and it was great to sit down with him and talk Millwall.

I then met Andy Ambler who once we introduced ourselves, I thought we would sit down in the reception area to go through the points I raised regarding our current transfer activity. Andy started making his way towards a door where clearly other players were walking about getting ready for training and I stopped and asked him if he would rather I waited here. He said “No, come through” and he proceeded to take me through to the canteen area. As we started talking Andrew Mills walked past and Andy stopped him, introduced him to me and Andrew proceeded to go into great detail about our current “Recruitment Structure” and how it’s currently in the early stages of where it will eventually be. Andy and Andrew were very open as they could be on areas of bringing players to the club and reasons why some players haven’t arrived, particularly a certain striker and on other strikers which I actually agreed with which I thought I wouldn’t!! We talked at length about this and Andy then took me out to the training pitches and we watched the first team train while still discussing players that we have already brought in and the reasons behind this. What was absolutely clear is that now and when the “Recruitment Structure” is fully up and running, Neil Harris has the final say if he wants that player and the club are prepared to pay good money for a player if Neil Harris wants that player.

Once the training session had finished Andy then took me back inside where we talked more “Millwall” subjects which Andy was only too happy to talk about in great detail.

I must admit I was blown away by the openness, friendly and relaxed atmosphere. Players walking in saying hello and the general down to earth feel around the training ground. I really don’t think many clubs would do this and I had an unbelievable two hours while getting the answers I wanted. Andy Ambler gets criticism from some quarters but he was prepared to meet me face to face and answer difficult questions and he didn’t avoid any of them. Andy didn’t have to meet me, Neil Harris didn’t have to sit down and have a chat with me but they did. Some supporters will always have an opinion on Andy Ambler/Neil Harris or anyone within our club and that’s what football is about but I cannot argue or disagree with the answers I was given, there’s so much more that goes into all aspects of the club which I for one didn’t realise.“

This wouldn’t have happened at any other club. Due to work and my health I have to rely on people writing to me if they have an issue they feel very passionate about. The answers they get may not be the ones they want but they will be factual and at times reflecting the bigger picture, something at times we all forget.

I would love to be able to pass out some of the more sensitive information but in this role discretion is key. There have been a few occasions where due to someone’s indiscretion details about players or managers coming in have leaked out, one in particular led to an increase in salary before we could get a player and another led to the withdrawal of a commercial offer that could have been lucrative for the club. I understand fans clamour for information but there can be a financial impact if information that is under a commercial agreement comes out, this has a knock on effect on the whole club and eventually less money towards the team.  

If you need to contact me you need to email me at petergarston@hotmail.com


 

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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