Saturday, 31 July 2010

Millwall 2 v Heart of Midlothian 3 - Friendly

Saturday 31st July 2010
Pre Season Friendly - Neil Harris Testimonial
at the New Den

Millwall (1)2
(Trotter 44, 61)
Heart of Midlothian (1)3
(Jonnson pen 16, Thomson 75,84)

Admission £12
Programme £5 (A4 testimonial magazine size issue)
Attendance 8376 (inc. 906 Hearts supporters)
Goal times are approx.
There were some presentations on the pitch prior to the game and a lengthy stoppage when Hearts Ismael Bouzid required treatment following an accidental clash of heads, he left the field on a stretcher with his neck in a support brace, luckily the injury wasn't as serious as originally thought.
A bit of a messy paint job but funny anyway ...
well played that man.

Millwall team: Forde, Dunne, Frampton, Abdou, Robinson, Ward, Schofield, Trotter, Harris, Morison, Henry.
Subs: Grabban, Hackett, Mkandawire, Smith, Lisbie, Laird.

Hearts team: Kello, Barr, Wallace, Mrowiec, Bouzid, Zaliukas, Thomson, Jonsson, Templeton, Eliot, Stevenson.
Subs: McDonald, Santana, McGowan, Novikovas, Smith.
We spent the previous afternoon, night and early part of this morning in the company of various members of the London Hearts Supporters Club at several different points in time and a variety of public houses in and around the Holborn area of the city.
I have a very clear recollection of the early part of the night, but don't even know how I got back to my digs if truth be told. And probably don't want to either.
I'm led to believe there are photographs of all this merriment in circulation, but the only ones featuring me are thankfully from quite early in the evening before I was totally and completely, err ... un-sober.
So much for my original plan of taking it steady on Friday night and saving myself for Millwall on Saturday then.
We fell out of London Bridge station on the morning of the game at around 11am, our designated meeting place 'The George' wasn't open until noon, so we started early doors in the 'Bunch of Grapes'.
The beer intake was slow but steady ... and at £7.40 for a pint and a Vodka and Lemonade, it was hardly likely to get much faster.
Note, the Vodka wasn't mine, Scottish people might take their alcohol diluted with fizzy pop, those of us born on Kilton Hill in Worksop don't!
After a couple of hefty blows to my bank balance at the bar, we moved on to our original destination and enjoyed better prices, a more improved calibre of beer the company of a courtyard full of Hearts supporters.
The police pulled up a discreet distance away and though they made sure that we had seen we were under observation, kept a low profile presence, save for a couple of them who walked amongst us trying to befriend anybody who was willing to talk to them.
It was good to catch up with my old mate Jimmy Galloway who travels to Tynecastle from Surrey these days as and when, having previously had the relatively easier journey of a mere 500+ miles round trip from the people's republic of Retford for Hearts home games before he moved even further away from Gorgie..
It never fails to amaze me how much planning and effort some people put into following Hearts around.
One of the London Hearts in the 'Duke of York' near Holborn tube station the previous night (Hi! Davy) was telling me how he already has all of his flights and trains booked for games up until the end of November.
At 2.15pm we made the short journey to South Bermondsey from London Bridge station and were ushered into the fenced off winding footpath that leads to the away end at the New Den, via a brisk five minute walk, out of the way of the locals.
We arrived at the turnstiles at around 2.25pm and there was a queue of around 30 people in front of us waiting to buy tickets.
Despite Millwall advertising this was a pay on the gate fixture they were insisting on ticket sales from a booth not more than 5 yards from the one entrance that was open.
By 2.50pm there were still a handful of people queueing in front of us and hundreds more turning up behind.
We spoke to the stewards who said it wasn't their fault, so we voiced our concerns to the police who then asked the stewards to open more turnstiles and do something about the painfully slow ticket sales ... they were unmoved and said there was nothing they could do about it and added that people should've got here earlier and it was their own fault.
Seemingly the police are powerless in South Bermondsey.
Way to go on the public relations front Millwall ... not!
There were still Hearts fans entering the ground 35 minutes after kick off, most of who had arrived no later than 2.45pm.
So if you're planning a trip to the New Den, take a flask and camp overnight if you want to be sure of making the kick off.
We did, but only just.
I don't think Millwall were expecting over 900 away fans to turn up and they misjudged how many turnstiles they would need to open, but it was crap organisation on their part not to to reassess the situation once they realised the ticket sellers couldn't cope with the demand and get people into the ground quickly enough.
Good afternoon boys ... and which one of you is Danny Dyer then???
(Photo taken by Chris Hopkins, Maesteg Hearts)

Neil Harris looked happy to see so many away supporters turning out to boost his testimonial funds and even singing his name, but the Hearts team wasn't going to be so charitable today and they were ahead on quarter of an hour when Eggy Jonnson drilled home a penalty.
Trotter equalised for the home side just before half time, but I was slightly unsighted and can't verify whether it was Rodney or Del Boy ... and I'm making no apologies for that one given the close proximity of Hooky Street to Millwall FC.
Nearly 7500 home fans ... apparently!
On the hour Trotter fired Millwall ahead with a cracking goal from a tight angle, it was a very well taken effort.
The Millwall supporters finally found their voice and drowned out their little band of wannabe hooligans to the left of us, who quite frankly, had been a bit of an embarrassment to the genuinely handy and big hard lads Millwall had tucked away somewhere, but who hadn't actually showed their hand today.
The PA announcer told us the scorer was actually called Liam Trotter.
I guess the original members of his family have moved on to A Touch of Frost and Goodnight Sweetheart since they were the stars of the show at the old Den.
The Hearts fans just upped the noise level and drowned out the home fans again.
We were here to party and in spite of the score, we were still partying.
Hearts second, Craig Thomson's first from a direct free kick at Millwall

Craig Thomson set up a free kick just outside the box with fifteen minutes remaining and caught everybody off guard with a peach of a free kick into the top corner of the goal.
Cue some very noisy celebrations.
I didn't know he had a trick like that in his arsenal.
Craig Thomson set up a free kick just outside the box with five minutes remaining and caught Millwall off guard with a peach of a free kick into the top corner of the goal again.
Cue some even noisier celebrations.
I know now he has a trick like that in his arsenal.!
Millwall for their part should've known too given what had happened just ten minutes ago, but they only gave their keeper the protection of a three man defensive wall.
That was the winning goal.
I suspect Craig will be taking more free kicks this season.
He's a very determined lad with a great future ahead of him.
It's was only a friendly and you can't read too much into the results from these games like these, but it had been a great day out and a really good game between two sides who had decided today would be about attacking and open football.
We nipped off right at the end, bugger slow moving police escorts and the like, we were back on the beer trail.
At the entrance steps to the station we found where some of the local big handy and hard guys were hanging out, but given that there were a lot of them and only a few of us (gulp!) and we hardly constituted a threat to their reputation, they just had a 'bit of banter' with us.
It would seem that Millwall fans hate Hibs from what a lot of them were saying, what a sensible and well adjusted lot they are ... don't believe the hype.
The train pulled in, the rest of the away fans finally arrived and by 5.15pm we were all on our way back into London to carry on with the party.
I opted not to end the night with a kebab, or rat burger, in Finsbury Park but went to a nice Italian place I know on the Seven Sisters Road instead, with some very select company.
We chose not to sit by the window because the streets were full of green & white and the view was horrendous ... a Glaswegian team were in London for the Emirates Cup, a four team tournament being staged over the weekend at the Arsenal, and North London has a massive Irish community, so they were all out n' about wanting to show their (somewhat plastic) allegiance to their colours.
A great trip to London (and Kent) all in, not soured at all by a drunken fool attacking me ineffectively outside a tube station late on the second night.
A hundred and two great stories will remain untold to protect a few guilty and innocent (well almost innocent) parties.
What goes on tour stays on tour.
Delete the pictures, clear all your text messages and let's hope Hearts manage such a good choice of opposition for pre season next year.
This trip was almost the equal of the Blackpool weekend for the game at Preston a few years ago and the pleasant afternoon out in Hull in 2005.

:-) Welcome to the Lions den ...