Millwall years 2006 - 2010
Unfortunately, the team made a poor start to the 2006/7 campaign, picking up just five points from their opening 10 League fixtures. The alarm bells began to ring again and the board took the difficult decision to part company with manager Nigel Spackman less than two months into the season.
Willie Donachie was elevated on a caretaker basis, and as results began to improve he was given the job until the end of the season.
Going into the Boxing Day clash at Brentford, Millwall knew that defeat would see them drop to the bottom of the table, but a resounding 4-1 success kick-started a remarkable upturn in fortunes. With striker Darren Byfield restored to fitness after a lengthy absence through injury, midfielder Dave Brammer proving a shrewd signing from Stoke in the January transfer window along with the return of the legendary Neil Harris from Forest, The Lions began to play like promotion contenders.
After the turn of the year, only Scunthorpe, Bristol City and Blackpool, all of whom would gain promotion, could match Millwall's run of form. Harris made club history on 20th January by beating Teddy Sheringham's League goalscoring record as Donachie's men finished the season in the top half of the table (10th).
Off the field, major new investment came through American consortium Chestnut Hill Ventures, led by new company chairman John G Berylson. Having taken four points from the opening two fixtures in 2007/8, the pre-season optimism soon began to fade and following a crushing 4-0 defeat at Carlisle The Lions were bottom of the table with ten games played.
Manager Willie Donachie paid the ultimate price, and after Richard Shaw along with Colin West had steadied the ship during a brief caretaker spell in charge, Kenny Jackett was recruited to the Den hot seat from Manchester City.
The club were plagued by an horrific injury list throughout the campaign and the new boss ultimately hauled Millwall to League One safety following a 3-0 demolition of, ironically, Carlisle in the penultimate game of the season.
The summer of 2008 saw chairman John G. Berylson and the board embroiled in an AGM battle with former majority shareholder G.F. Lacey, with the shareholders ultimately backing the board. Meanwhile manager Jackett bolstered his squad with the additions of goalkeeper David Forde, defender Tony Craig, returning permanently after a loan spell having left for Palace 12 months previously, young striker Ashley Grimes and midfielder Nadjim Abdou. The new boss's first full season in charge so nearly yielded the promotion everyone was hoping for.
After a faltering start The Lions were soon up amongst the front-runners and held a top six spot for most of the campaign. Promotion favourites Leicester City and Leeds United were both beaten before Christmas, but stuttering home form after the turn of the year threatened to undermine the team's progress.
However, a record six away wins on the spin served to maintain the momentum, and although the push for a top two finish ultimately faded, Millwall secured fifth spot and a place in the Play-Offs.
eeds were the semi-final opponents with a Neil Harris goal in the first leg enabling Jackett's men to take a narrow lead to Elland Road. Jimmy Abdou's late equaliser rewarded a battling display in West Yorkshire and Wembley beckoned. Sadly, in spite of a wonder strike from Gary Alexander at the national stadium, a 2-1 half-time lead was surrendered to Scunthorpe United who won the Play-Off final 3-2.
It took a while for The Lions to find their form again as the 2009/10 campaign got underway. Injuries to key players were a factor, but by October Millwall were upwardly mobile and up amongst the front runners. Steve Morison, signed during the summer from Stevenage Borough, began to find his feet at League One level, and the home form sustained the promotion push.
After completing the double over the Yorkshire outfit in late March, that gap had closed to a solitary point where once it had been in excess of 20. Two defeats and a draw in the last five games hampered further progress though, but The Lions still entered the final day of the league campaign as one of five teams who could still clinch promotion.
A 3-2 win over Swindon proved not to be quite enough as Leeds also won to clinch the runners-up spot, and once again the Play-Offs beckoned after a third place finish.
Huddersfield were the semi-final opponents, and after a 0-0 first leg draw, goals from Paul Robinson and Steve Morison at The Den secured a return trip to Wembley.
This time there was to be no heartbreak as Robinson's solitary goal was enough to see off Swindon Town and clinch promotion for the first time through the Play-Off lottery.