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20 Apr 2018

Millwall: Neil Harris could lead the Lions to the Premier League

(Photo credit: Glowworm 44)

Millwall have only spent two of their 133 years in existence in the top flight of English football. 

The club, based in South East London, gained a first ever promotion to the old First Division in 1988 and whilst they defied the odds to finish 10th, they were relegated the following year. 

A remarkable turnaround under boss Neil Harris ensures they can start to dream of a third campaign.

It has been 25 years since the Lions last recorded a finish within the top eight of England’s second tier and indeed that spell has been indicative of much of their existence of floating between the second and third levels of English football. 

They found themselves in League One again two seasons ago in the first full campaign of current boss Neil Harris.

Neil Harris has built a legacy at Millwall

The former striker is a cult hero at the club and he is their record goalscorer. 

He retired on 138 goals for Millwall, surpassing Teddy Sheringham’s previous benchmark. He spent a year battling testicular cancer in 2001 and set up the Neil Harris Everyman Appeal before helping the club to the 2004 FA Cup final.

Now in the hot-seat, the current side are unbeaten in 13 and have lost just one of their last 20 matches. With three matches of the regulation season remaining, they sit just inside the promotion playoffs. 

They are the form team in the Championship and their fans are dreaming that in a month’s time they will be celebrating promotion.

It should not be this way, they have one of the smallest budgets in the division and Transfermarkt cites their squad as having the second lowest in the division, ahead of only Burton Albion and only an eighth of Fulham, who they host on Friday night. 

On paper, they should not be competing at this end of the division but such is the spirit and belief built by Harris, they are doing exactly that.

No star power

There are few stars in this team and the standout name is Tim Cahill, now 38, who has returned to the club in order to boost his chances of a World Cup starting role with Australia. 

Cahill spent six seasons with the club and was part of the memorable 2004 side who lost out to Manchester United in the Cup final.

Northern Irish international trio Conor McLaughlin, George Saville and Shane Ferguson are all key components, with captain Steve Morrison the main goal threat. 

With the exception of Cahill and his Australian compatriot James Meredith, the squad comprises players entirely from the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, with most of the players brought through the lower leagues.

Millwall have, often unfairly, been associated more with elements of hooliganism within their fanbase than what they have achieved on the football pitch, but there are few clubs in England as proactive in making a positive impact in their local community. 

The best boost they could give Bermondsey and the Isle of Dogs would be to win promotion to the promised land of the Premier League. 

That may well be the fairy-tale promotion that Harris, more than anyone, is deserving of.

Can Millwall get promoted this season? Let us know in the comments section below.