Millwall loanee Allan Campbell on leaving Luton Town and why Championship promotion push can be slow burn


There is the old saying that the league table doesn’t lie. But Allan Campbell can attest to the fact it also doesn’t mean a whole lot in the middle of September.

Millwall’s new loan recruit was a key component of the Luton Town side which won promotion to the Premier League in May.

But at the same point of last season, five matches in, the Bedfordshire club were 19th in the Championship standings and had five points on the board.

While Sheffield United, who led the way at that juncture, did last the 46-game course to take the second automatic promotion spot, Watford and Reading – second and third respectively – did not. The latter were relegated to League One, a six-point deduction ensuring they dropped.

Millwall are 12th and only three points behind Hull City and Norwich, fifth and sixth respectively, as they head into Sunday’s home game against Leeds United.

“It would be silly to look at who is first and second and expect them to go straight up,” Campbell told the South London Press. “There is plenty of football to be played.

“It’s about getting that consistency and trying to win games of football – don’t get too far ahead of yourselves.

“Everything can change in two games in the Championship. You know what it is like – it’s relentless. You have to focus on the next one and then see where you are at the end of the season.”

Glaswegian Campbell has reached the play-offs in the last two seasons. Luton were beaten 2-1 on aggregate by Huddersfield in 2022 but cracked the knockouts a year later, edging out Sunderland 3-2 over two legs before a 6-5 penalty shootout win over Coventry City at Wembley.

Campbell was an unused substitute against the Sky Blues, along with former Wimbledon keeper James Shea, but insists that not featuring at the national stadium did not detract from the moment.

“I’d have loved to have come on but the way the game panned out, it just wasn’t meant to me,” said the 25-year-old.

“I played a massive role in the team getting there – I think I started most of the games in the season, so it didn’t take anything away. It is a team game and I remained part of the team – I was delighted for everyone who played and contributed.

“I was there on the side giving my support and being ready, if needed.

“It rates right up there, under my Scotland debut. It was some achievement when you consider the size of the club and competing against some of the budgets other Championship teams have.

“To go and get promoted to the Premier League is something that I’ll always remember.

Picture: Brian Tonks

“My first season I came down to England and we got beaten in the play-offs. It’s a horrible feeling, knowing you are so close to getting to the final. I was on the right side of it last season. It was brilliant to see the fans running on the park to celebrate (at Kenilworth Road after beating Sunderland). You never know, I may have another few of those moments down the line.”

Millwall were interested in Campbell when he was at Motherwell, who he joined as a 10-year-old. He scored 16 goals in 159 appearances for the Well, including winning 24 caps for Scotland U21.

Luton agreed an undisclosed fee in June 2021. Campbell was out of contract but compensation needed to be paid due to him being under the age of 24.

Campbell had not played competitive football this season before coming on in the 76th minute of Millwall’s 1-1 draw at Birmingham City just before the international break.

He was named on the bench for Luton’s 4-1 defeat on the opening day of the Premier League season but then did not make the matchday squad for losses at Chelsea and at home to West Ham United.

So is it hard after achieving the goal of reaching England’s top flight to then drop back to the Championship? No, according to Campbell.

“Everyone that knows me, knows I want to improve and get better,” he said. “I feel if I am to improve that I need to be playing games and showing what I can do.

“As a footballer, you want to play. That was my main drive, to go and play games. I thought my game time would be limited.

“It was a new experience for me – to come and sign on transfer deadline day, go straight into training and then play (the following day).

“My agent got in touch and said Millwall would be interested, a day or two before the window closed. I had a chat with the gaffer and it was something I was keen on.

“The boys at Millwall made it easy. They were welcoming. I can’t thank the staff and players enough – they made it feel like I’d been there for a while.  I’ve had the international break now to get a couple of training sessions in.”

Campbell’s first game in a Lions shirt at The Den is a tasty one.

Opposition that had been in the Premier League until this season. But to add extra spice, it is also Leeds United – a fixture which has grown in significance. A 416-mile round trip from stadium to stadium, but with the kind of extra intensity that usually comes into play for a derby. All the tickets have long been sold, with plenty more set to tune in to the live coverage on Sky Sports.

Campbell is perfectly happy that his home debut is set to be anything but low key.

“That’s what everybody wants to play in,” he said. “Every footballer wants to play in those occasions – full-houses, on TV and with everybody watching. I’m looking forward to playing my first game at The Den as a Millwall player instead of as an opposition player.”

Former Charlton striker Darren Bent recently picked out The Den when asked for the most intimidating ground he played at.

“The crowd make it better for the home team,” said Campbell, when asked what it is like to be in the away dressing room in SE16. “You’re almost playing against 12 men. It’s not an easy place to go and get a result.

“Hopefully we can make it like that again this year – a place where people don’t get points and also don’t want to come and play.”

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