Let ’em all… come down… toooo the Den!

A fan’s guide – the club from early doors to today

Winning promotion to the Championship in 2017 via a second successive Wembley play-off, behind the scenes Millwall had another battle on their hands. A move by Lewisham Council to buy up land around The Den tried to force the club to move out of south-east London after more than century, prompting a mass campaign by supporters, Defend Our Den, to prevent it. 

Since the council backed down, the club issued plans for New Bermondsey, a community-friendly stadium with potential expansion to 34,000 capacity, its new features made of local London stock brick to echo the industrial heritage of Bermondsey.

The Den/Stephen Perrin

Based in Bermondsey and nearby New Cross since 1910, the Lions have long been stigmatised by their hooligan element of the 1970s and 1980s despite laudable efforts of the club to promote the game in the local community. ‘No-one likes us, no-one likes us, no-one likes us, we don’t care…’ is the club’s infamous signature anthem – and there were echoes of those dark days at the 2016 Championship play-off when Millwall fans stormed security barriers to chase Barnsley’s with the game already lost.

A year later, the club’s all-time top scorer Neil Harris took the Lions back to Wembley for a 1-0 victory over Bradford City, a solitary late goal by Steve Morison prompting further crowd scenes after the final whistle.

Millwall also made the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, having beaten then English champions Leicester to get there. The run had echoes of The Lions reaching the final in 2004 thanks to a Tim Cahill goal in the semi-final with Sunderland. A 3-0 defeat at the hands of Manchester United, Cristiano Ronaldo in sparkling form, led to an unlikely European tie with Ferencváros.

The cup final was the last for Australian World Cup hero Cahill in a Millwall shirt. Since 2004, the club has yo-yo’d between the second and third tiers, unable to repeat the heroics of the Class of ’71 or two-season stay in the top flight in the late 1980s.

The Den/Peterjon Cresswell

The club was formed by workers at a canning factory in Millwall on the Isle of Dogs in 1885. First called Millwall Rovers, the renamed Millwall Athletic twice made the cup semi-final in 1900 and 1903, having won the inaugural Southern League in 1895. Change came in 1910 with the move south of the Thames to New Cross but Millwall retained much of their original dockside support.

After the Southern League became the Third Division in 1920, Millwall attracted 40,000-plus crowds to The Den for the title-winning campaign of 1927-28 and run to another FA Cup semi-final in 1937.

The next memorable Millwall side developed in the late 1960s. Under former Lions half-back Benny Fenton, a team featuring later England cap Keith Weller, Irish international and later media personality Eamon Dunphy, and stalwart defenders Barry Kitchener and Harry Cripps, proved invincible at The Den. Finishing in the top ten of the second tier five seasons running, Millwall came within one point of promotion to the First Division in 1971-72.

The revered Class of ’71 remained fresh in the memory when first George Graham then John Docherty put together another formidable team in the mid 1980s. By now, the notoriously fiery atmosphere at the Den had tipped into violence. Millwall fans instigated a riot at Luton in 1985, in the ground and around town, prompting talks at government level and calls for membership-only admission at football matches.

The Den/Stephen Perrin

On the pitch, a Millwall side spearheaded by the prolific Tony Cascarino and Teddy Sheringham gained The Lions long-sought promotion to the top flight, where they stayed for two seasons.

Around the same time, the club still tarnished with a grim reputation, Millwall announced a move to a new all-seater stadium in South Bermondsey, close to what was now called the Old Den. The New Den opened in 1993, since witnessing two campaigns that brought Millwall close to a return to the Premier.

The Den/Stephen Perrin

First, under Mick McCarthy in 1994, The Lions finished third in the second tier but lost to Derby in the play-off semi-final. Under Mark McGhee, with on-loan veteran Dion Dublin, Tim Cahill and Neil Harris, Millwall again fell at the semi-final stage in 2002. Cahill and Harris then starred to take Millwall to the FA Cup final in 2004, a day out for Lions fans at the Millennium Stadium that prefaced a visit to Budapest for a UEFA Cup tie with Ferencváros.

After stints as caretaker coach, Harris was confirmed permanent manager of the club in 2015. Promotion to the Championship in 2017 coincided with the battle to save The Den. Millwall twice came close to the play-offs, the season in between seeing a run in the FA Cup, and defeat to Brighton by the narrowest of margins, a 95th-minute equaliser by the visitors forcing extra-time at The Den. A penalty shoot-out with the semi-final beckoning began with Brighton hitting the bar – and ended with celebrating Seagulls. 

A dip in league form in 2019 signalled the departure of the long-serving Harris and arrival of ex-Derby defender Gary Rowett as manager. 

Ground Guide

The field of dreams – and the stands around it

A short distance away from the original Den, knocked down in 1993, The Den holds 20,000 in four, two-tiered stands. Although the modern-day ground is in no way as intimidating as the notorious old Den, visiting fans should still be wary in the local area. Neutrals turning into Zampa Road may still sense a taste of the bad old days as they approach the row of auto repairs and the railway bridge (bizarrely decorated with Legia Warsaw graffiti) immediately before the stadium.

The home end, or Cold Blow Lane Stand, houses sectors 7-12 and 35-40. The North Stand (21-26, 49-54) is for away fans. The West Stand (1-3, 4-6, 27-30, 31-34), named after Lions Legend Barry Kitchener, houses the family enclosure, press and directors’ seats, while the East, Dockers, Stand (41-48, 13-20), runs along the opposite sideline.

getting there

Going to the ground – tips and timings

The closest stadium to central London, The Den is a short walk from South Bermondsey station in Zone 2, only four minutes by frequent train from London Bridge (£3.40 single, £6.10 day return, £12.30 Travelcard).

Although not immediately signposted at the station, the ground is indicated on the left-hand side once you start walking down the pathway from the station. Turn left again at the bottom, walk along Ilderton Road for five minutes, and the Den is signposted left again down Zampa Road, the other side of the railway bridge. As the stadium was designed, away fans have their own walkway and access, turning right out of the station.

Alternatively, the stadium also has its own stop on the mini P12 bus route from Surrey Quays (London Overground) 15mins away.

The sat nav code for The Den is SE16 3LN. There is little reliable street parking in the immediate vicinity of the ground or South Bermondsey station. The best bet is to try around the Elizabeth Industrial Estate on Juno Way, just the other side of Surrey Canal Road from the ground. Remember it’s unwise to walk around nearby streets in away colours on match days.

The nearest convenient pay-for parking is by the ibis Styles hotel (SE1 9HH) on Southwark Bridge Road near Borough Market, a 7-10min walk from London Bridge station.

getting in

Buying tickets – when, where, how and how much

Tickets go on sale about four to five weeks before match day, with distribution through the main ticket office (Mon-Fri 9.30am-5pm, match-day Sat 10am-kick off) alongside reception behind the West Stand, by phone (UK only 0844 826 2004) and online.

The main ticket office and outlet by the SE16 Bar behind the Cold Blow Lane end deal with match-day sales.

Prices are banded according to the opposition, with tickets starting at £25 for Category A games and £22 for Category B, over-60s £17/£14, under-16s £11/£10, under-12s £6/£5. The dearest seats are in the upper tier of the Barry Kitchener Stand. Away fans pay £26/£23, over-60s £17/£14, under-16s £13/£10, under-12s £7/£5.

what to buy

Shirts, kits, merchandise and gifts

Immediately ahead of you after you walk under the railway bridge on Zampa Road, the Lions Store (Mon-Sat 9am-5pm, match days from 9am, match-day Sat also after final whistle) stocks classic first-choice blue kit. Away tops for 2020-21 are green-and-white halves (go figure), the third kit an off-the-shoulder red number.  At least there are retro shirts to select, from the 1970s and 1990s.

Look out, too, for One Likes Us coffee mugs, car stickers and beanie hats, Millwall boxing gloves, chocolate bars and vintage footballs. 

Where to Drink

Pre-match beers for fans and casual visitors

Visiting fans and neutrals have a couple of easy options by the nearest stations to Millwall. By Surrey Quays, The Surrey Docks is a convenient Wetherspoons with a large terrace. Better yet, and far closer to the ground at South Bermondsey, Fourpure is the taproom showcase for the craft brewery of the same name set up as this industrial estate. Oh my dog! burgers accompany the Fourpure Hazy Pale and Citrus Session IPA.

Aside from these, from Rotherhithe New Road then under the railway bridge into Raymouth Road, an area known to locals as The Blue has a few options. Turn left at the bottom of Raymouth Road under the railway bridge again for The Ancient Foresters. Under a bottle-green awning, this local corner pub features Kodak snaps of regulars, a little stage surrounded by Rat Pack paraphernalia and a sepia image of old Southwark. Further along, down Southwark Park Road, the Blue Anchor (No.251) and the Old Bank (No.239) are similarly old-school Millwall.

Sadly, one old-school landmark has closed – on Rotherhithe New Road, the Victory Fish Bar run by the genial Milton (‘Call me Milt’) and his wife served its last supreme chips in November 2020, the shutters coming down after 73 years and three generations of service. It’s yet to be seen whether new ownership will continue with its original function.

Away fans also tend to drink around London Bridge and Borough Market, at traditional pubs such as the historic George Inn, a 1667 rebuild after the Great Fire, and more sport-oriented Barrowboy & Banker, on the bridge itself.

At the ground, the Millwall Café facing the club shop serves snacks while match-day ‘Arry’s Bar is members-only. Home fans also gather at the SE16 Bar behind the Cold Blow Lane end.