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Club News

Fan On The Board

4 February 2014

Latest from Pete Garston

We have two major issues at the moment that need which will need us, the fans, to get behind the club when the time comes as both the issues threaten our club in different ways.

Firstly the regeneration which has been going on for the eight years I have been on the board.

There have been times when it seemed it was dead in the water, and others when it looked like the club it would achieve its goal of getting the finances required to secure our  future for many years.
 
All along, Lewisham Council have been afforded hospitality and support by the club in many council driven issues such as the recent Save Lewisham Hospital campaign. We, as fans, along with the club threw our weight behind the campaign and played a key role in helping keep Lewisham A&E open.

The council publicly and privately led all at Millwall to believe that we would be key in any redevelopment, but in recent months we have noticed the council distancing themselves from us and then the final blow was them indicating their support for Renewal without any explanation or much notice.

So now we are in a position where an external property developer could hold the key to our future, given to them by the council who claims it champions community.

The only positive to come out of this is the fact that once again when we are challenged by external forces the Chairman shows his resolve and commits himself to the future of our club.
 
I know John Berylson very well and one thing he will not do is shirk a challenge. He will fight our corner to make sure that Millwall Football Club continues to play football at The Den for years to come.

When called upon we will need to do whatever is required to fight for our club. I hope the people of the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign return our support if needed as well.

Once I know what is needed by the club to fight the developers, I will co-ordinate all fans via the MSC, Trust, Websites and Fanzines to ensure we are there to make our voices heard.

We do not roll over easily when it comes to our club.

Secondly, and more of a current threat is the missile throwing issue.

Against Sheffield Wednesday there were quite a few incidents of missile throwing, the main one being the bottle thrown onto the pitch from behind the South Stand goal. 

Everyone at the club, including the manager, wants the The Den to be a place where our opponents are wary of coming to. We are renowned for our passion, but missile throwing isn’t passion. Ollie wants us to give him and the team all the passionate loud vocal support we can.
 
Missile throwing is wrong and only causes the club to have to spend valuable time and money trying to placate the authorities to ensure we don’t get huge fines or something worse. 

At one point we had to put in CCTV to show to the FA we were taking action.  

The money spent on the CCTV would have been better spent on replacing the big screen! (The big screen issue, by the way, is another being discussed at board level).

There were arrests for missile throwing against Sheff Wed, but rather than have arrests, fans need to channel their passion into getting behind the team rather than throwing missiles. 

The annoying thing is we spend so much time talking about and dealing with a small minority, and the press only pick up on the minority!

This section below was originally written a few weeks back:
Once the decision was taken to remove Steve Lomas, the board knew it was imperative that the right manager was selected. The chairman agreed to smash the budget to get someone of quality who is experienced in this division.

There weren't that many around, and Ian Holloway was the first choice. Once it was decided, the chairman and board put every bit of effort into getting him.

Kenny Jackett had a big part to play as well, as Ollie and he are close friends and Ollie wanted to know about Millwall behind the scenes, warts and all. When he found that out, he still wanted to come!! So we owe Kenny, the chairman and the board a big vote of thanks for getting us Ollie. (If he had said no, only God knows what would have happened).

I've now met him twice and I must say I was blown away. My preconception of Ollie was that he was the man who gave funny interviews. But don't be fooled by his clowning about for the cameras, he is very articulate, knowledgeable, committed and most of all strong minded.

He shoots from the hip and tells it how it is and how it will be under his regime, with public statements like "if they don't get fit in time I will find players who are," and "if they've not signed a contract why haven't they, they either want to play for us or not. If they don't I will get players who do."

One thing of interest he said was about the young players. He said he wanted to get young players in and turn them into good Millwall players.  Fans needed to support them and encourage them to do that and not get on their backs straight away.  He explained these youngsters will need to be nurtured and the fans will have a hand in that, as a bad game can make or break young players.

Ollie loves us as fans. He spoke of many times when he was given grief and gave good banter back. He wants to instil that again, so The Den becomes a place other teams are scared to come, where they are shown the good natured passion a packed Den can produce.

Ollie has never blamed anyone for our position, for instance he has publicly mentioned the lack of fitness of some players, he could have done the politician's swipe and laid the blame firmly on the previous management team but he didn't. 

As, in his words, these players have a responsibility to keep themselves fit to play, playing professional football in Ollie's eyes is a very privileged position and he believes players owe it to the fans to give their all for the shirt at all times.

Ollie was given a commitment by the chairman and board that he runs things his way. That is how it has been in the past at Millwall and will continue. At other clubs he has been at there has been heavy interference from above that has made his position as manager as untenable.
 
The board hasn't interfered before and that won't change under Ollie. Ollie has committed to us for two and a half years and I am pretty sure he won't fail in his task.

When I spoke with Ollie he asked if I could arrange a meeting with a group of fans, just a group of 10 or so. It will take a while to organise and I intend to get the fans from all different areas of the club, different age groups etc so it's a good mix of fans.

I will keep you informed. If you would like to be selected to attend, drop me a line.

On a personal note, thankyou for all your emails and texts during my latest spell in hospital. It really meant a lot and makes me realise why I do what I do and that I am blessed to be Millwall.

As always any questions drop me a line at petergarston@hotmail.com

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