Millwall on the march as 45,000 make rare Wembley trip
Saturday 23 May 2009
Millwall have been to Wembley, but you would need a very good reference book to uncover any details. It was April 1945 when, as Millwall Athletic, they lost to Chelsea in the Football League War Cup Final (South).
It is hardly surprising then that the club have sold 45,000 tickets for tomorrow's League One play-off final against Scunthorpe United. Under the understated management of Kenny Jackett, Millwall have overcome the chaos of pre-season when Graham Ferguson Lacey, an uncompromising businessmen viewed by many fans as a potential asset-stripper, failed in a takeover bid.
"We had four chairmen in a year. That's not workable," said Heather Rabbatts, the deputy executive chair. Now, under American John Berylson, there is financial and management stability. The club have just bought Stevenage's Steve Morison, the most highly regarded striker in the Conference, and, Rabbatts said, further investment may follow.
Scunthorpe's last trip to Wembley was less than two months ago, but they lost the Johnstone's Paint Trophy to a Luton Town side which was sliding out of the Football League. Relegated from the Championship last season, the club kept faith with Nigel Adkins and hope to be rewarded with an instant return. Leading scorer Gary Hooper, who has scored three goals against Millwall already this season, has recovered from a groin problem but a thigh injury should rule out former Millwall player Ben May.
The referee tomorrow will be Michael Oliver. Today his father, Clive, officiates at the League Two play-off final between Gillingham and Shrewsbury Town. The Gills lost 7-0 at the New Meadow earlier this season and defender John Nutter said, "We owe them one and it's in the back of the mind as ammo."
Nutter was a winner at Wembley under Gills manager Mark Stimson when the latter led Stevenage to FA Trophy success two seasons ago.
The Gills have sold close to 40,000 tickets for their first trip to the new stadium having featured in two dramatic play-off finals; in 1999 when they lost on penalties to Manchester City, and 2000 when they beat Wigan in extra-time. Shrewsbury return to the new stadium having lost the 2007 League Two final to Bristol Rovers.
Gills could have Adam Miller fit but Town may be without Dave Hibbert as well as the suspended Steven Leslie.
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