‘A wonderful treat’: Millwall fan, 82, visits The Den for first time in 60 years

A life-long Millwall fan visited The Den for the first time in 60 years during a special VIP tour.

Ted Heardman, 82, visited the Lions’ home ground in John Berylson Way, Bermondsey, last month in a trip organised by staff at the Heathfield Court Care Home where he lives.

Heathfield Court, in Colyers Lane, Erith, provides residential, nursing and specialist dementia care.

In his youth, Mr Heardman and his friends went to almost all of Millwall’s home games at what is now known as The Old Den in New Cross.

He said: “I loved this time with my mates. When I was in my late teens and throughout my 20s, we would go to the football and then head to the pub for a few beers.

“We went to away matches, too, and always had such a laugh. I was also in a Millwall darts team, back in the 1960s, and was awarded a tankard – which I still enjoy a pint from – when my team won the league in 1967.”

Ted Heardman at The Den with the tankard he was awarded in the 1960s (Picture: Heathfield Court Care Home)

But, Mr Heardman said once he was married and had children he could no longer afford to spend money on the tickets.

After his visit on April 9, he said: “It’s been over 60 years since I was last at a match.

“The tour was a wonderful treat, it was great to visit The Den for the first time, I definitely felt like I got the VIP treatment. 

“It made it extra special to have (care assistant) Zoe there with me, after all of our chats about Millwall.”

The last home game of the season resulted in a 1-0 win for Millwall against Plymouth Argyle.

Ted Heardman overlooks the pitch during his visit to The Den (Picture: Heathfield Court Care Home)

“Being invited back to watch a match was fantastic, especially as Millwall won, it felt like the team made an extra effort to score a goal just for me!” joked Ted.

Mr Heardman was accompanied by care assistants Zoe Burton, 47, and Tracy Baker, 55, and minibus driver Duncan Hillman, 61. 

After the tour, Millwall FC invited Mr Heardman back to watch the last home game of the season on April 27, when they beat Plymouth 1-0.

Fellow Millwall fan, Ms Burton, said: “Chatting to the residents, hearing their stories, and finding out about their hobbies and interests is my favourite part of my job as a care assistant.

“When Ted first made Heathfield Court his home, we soon started to chat about our love of football and found that we were both Millwall fans.

Ted with fellow Millwall fan and care assistant Zoe, right (Picture: Heathfield Court Care Home)

“When Ted told me he had never been to The New Den, I explained to him about our ‘Wish Tree’ where we support our residents to experience something they never had the opportunity to do, or to rekindle something they love from their youth.

“Ahead of the tour, we were both very excited, and then on the day to see how happy it made Ted was just the best. Getting to go back to watch a match made the whole experience extra special.”

Heathfield Court is rated ‘Good’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and was a regional finalist for the putting people first award in the Great British Care Awards 2023.

Pictured top: Ted Heardman with care assistants Zoe Burton, left, and Tracy Baker during his visit to The Den (Picture: Heathfield Court Care Home)

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