Football: Millwall rescued by globetrotter

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Portsmouth. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

MICK McCARTHY had no time afterwards to dwell upon the origins of the substitute who retrieved a vital promotion point for his side. 'I think he came from Chertsey though I wouldn't swear to it,' the Millwall manager said, 'It could just be a sign I've seen on the motorway. To be honest it doesn't really bother me who gets our cheque.'

When the season has been filed away and McCarthy knows whether to plan a Premier League campaign for 1993/94 or another First Division slog he might care to take an hour or three out of his day to sit John Kerr down and have the story told. It is a fascinating quest for a football career which, ironically, began at Portsmouth 10 years ago and on Saturday came virtually full circle.

'I'm a bit of a vagabond ' Kerr said with no exaggeration. Born in Toronto of Scottish parents his football odyssey has sent him scuttling back and forth across the Atlantic, to Washington, Wycombe Wanderers, San Diego, Scotland, Canada and Northern Ireland and on to junction 11 of the M25. Along the way he took American citizenship, graduated in political science at Duke University, North Carolina, and made 11 appearances for his adopted country.

From Chertsey he had trials with Charlton and Millwall and at 28 he is now ready to put down some roots. 'I've always wanted to play for Millwall,' he says without a hint of a smile for one who has travelled half way round the world to get there, 'and their offer of a two-and-a-half year contract was better than Charlton's. I blame my father. He was also a vagabond, starting his career with Partick Thistle and ending it at New York Cosmos alongside Pele.'

Here he travelled only a matter of yards from the substitutes' bench to a goalscoring position in just nine minutes but it could prove the most significant journey yet for the globe-trotting striker whose 'attitude and application' were praised by McCarthy.

The draw suited Portsmouth more than Millwall although Jim Smith's team could yet rue the loss of all three points which were theirs for the taking before Kerr's entrance.

Their three-man central-defensive alliance was looking impregnable and an angled drive packed with power and precision by Mark Chamberlain provided them with something more substantial to defend. Pompey had a sprightliness and a cohesion about them that for once Millwall could not find in front of their excitable support.

Those committed fans cheered loud for Danny Wallace in a 'homecoming' for the Deptford-born player who first appeared at the Den as a 12- year-old in a penalty competition. On loan from Manchester United, Wallace struggled to make an impact against the impressive Kit Symons and eventually made way.

Goals: Chamberlain (42) 0-1; Kerr (65) 1-1.

Millwall: Keller; Cunningham, Dawes, Roberts, Cooper, T McCarthy, Maguire, Wallace (Bogie, 72), Allen (Kerr, 56), Moralee, Barber.

Portsmouth: Knight; Awford, Butters, McLoughlin (Murray, 84), Symons, Daniel, Price, (Lawrence, 78) Chamberlain, Walsh, Whittingham, Russell.

Referee: P Vanes (West Midlands).