Football: Millwall pay a tender farewell to the Den: Owen Slot reports on the profitable break-up of a south London stadium, parts of which were up for sale yesterday

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The Independent Online
THE DEN, former home to the Lions of Millwall, was open to a pack of vultures yesterday. Good natured and tearful they were too. With just a month until the bulldozers arrive to flatten the ground, the fans had been invited to pick over the pieces of 83 years of football memory. Some just came to have themselves photographed, some came for a patch of turf or a plastic seat, and hundreds came to put in a bid for some of the Den memorabilia that was up for sale by tender.

On Friday 4 June, the successful tenderers will be notified and 11 sets of Millwall gates, 37 turnstiles and 53 Millwall signs will disappear into various homes and gardens around South London. The turnstiles are expected to make a novel line in rose trellises, the signs will look good on bedroom walls; heaven knows what you do with the timber programme sellers booths.

Those unsuccessful in their bids can settle into some nostalgia when they visit Peterborough United next season as The Posh have purchased most of the Den's seating. The items that were for sale are expected to bring in pounds 15,000- pounds 20,000, small beer for a football club but big booty for the purchasers. They will be back watching in Millwall's 'new London stadium' next season which is just a goal-kick away, but for now, they are bidding farewell to the old stadium before singing in the new.

On Sunday, Families Day, some 2,000 Blues were picnicking on the turf, a square foot of which came free with each ticket. Rod Lindridge, a supporter for 56 years, has been back and forth a few times since then and now has 40 square feet of turf waiting to take root in his front garden.

The diehards were there in force yesterday: the woman who wanted a pair of 8 x 8 crests for her sitting-room wall; the company director who works in Barnsley where his football allegiance is such a joke that he intends to re-lay his whole office in the Millwall FC carpet that was up for sale.

And presiding over it all was Steve Bown, the lifelong Millwall supporter who was in charge of the sale and envious that he was not allowed to join the bidding. 'I'd love a piece of carpet,' he said, 'but I don't think the wife would allow it in the lounge.'