Millwall vs Bradford City 2017: The Lions make history

After an eventful week for Millwall Football Club, who have secured a 999-year lease on their ground The Den, the South London Press looks back on one of the best days in the Lions’ recent history, their 1-0 League One play-off final win over Bradford City, which secured promotion to the Championship in 2017.

On May 20, 2017, the Millwall manager Neil Harris and his side wrote their names into the history books and set their fans celebrating by securing promotion with victory in the League One play-offs.

The 1-0 win over Bradford City secured the club’s ninth promotion from the third to the second tier of English football – a record for all clubs.

About 200 Lions’ fans flooded the Wembley pitch at full time after Steve Morison’s 85th-minute winner fired the club back into the Championship.

Although a small number of supporters confronted Bradford’s dejected players, there did not appear to be signs of serious trouble.

Steve Morrison wheels away after scoring the goal which ended Millwall’s stay in League One (Picture: Brian Tonks)

Lions chief executive, Steve Kavanagh, assured no violence had taken place with 27,000 fans booing and chanting for the pitch invaders to leave.

Speaking to the South London Press after the match, Morrison said: “I’ve scored in three out of four club games at Wembley.

“I brought the knee slide back out, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to get back up!

“From the outside it might have looked like we were right up against it, but we knew what we were doing out there. We’ve been doing it all season.”

The win came after a season filled with uncertainty as Millwall looked as though they could lose their home – a seemingly unstoppable march of gentrification threatening to evict them from The Den.

In 2016 Lewisham council voted to sell the land surrounding the stadium to property developers.

Former Millwall FC Chairman John Berylson (Picture: PA)

The New Bermondsey development would see the creation of about 2,400 homes around The Den.

The cabinet voted 6-1 to approve the compulsory purchase order, which would see land used by the club, including a car park and the Millwall Community Trust, taken over by developers.

Former chairman John Berylson had pushed back, saying the club had its own plans and would not “give in”.

He said: “This will now be a long process before our land can be taken. And it can still be stopped.”

Millwall FC chairman James Berylson (Picture: Brian Tonks)

Looking back now, one week after Millwall FC and Lewisham council came to the landmark agreement of a 999-year lease, the match against Bradford was not just a promotion into the Championship for the Lions, but steadied the club in its fight to protect its home.

Following the decision, Millwall chairman James Berylson paid tribute to his father’s vision for the club and its surrounding community.

He said: “My family’s involvement with Millwall goes back almost 20 years. My father, John Berylson – who tragically died last year – from the outset had a vision and an ambition for the football club and its local community.

“It has taken us a long time to reach this turning point but my father’s passion and dogged determination never dimmed and it’s a great sadness to all of us that he is not here today to witness this milestone moment in the club’s history.”

Pictured top: Millwall captain Tony Craig lifts the League One play-off trophy at Wembley surrounded by team mates (Picture: Brian Tonks)

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