Millwall years 1885 - 1959
Millwall Rovers were formed in the summer of 1885 by workers at Morton's Jam Factory on the Isle of Dogs.The majority of the workers at the factory were of Scottish extraction and consequently blue and white became the club's colours. Millwall inhabited four separate grounds on the island and changed their name via Millwall Athletic to plain Millwall, before relocating across the river at The Den in 1910.
Having become The Lions, Millwall reached the Semi-Finals of the F.A Cup in 1903 whilst still a Southern League side, losing 3-0 to Derby County in front of 40,500 fans at Villa Park. The Club remained in the Southern League for a decade following their move to New Cross but in 1920 became founder members of Football League Division Three, beating Bristol Rovers 2-0 in their opening League game at The Den. (Coincidentally Rovers were Millwall's last League opponents at that ground in 1993).
In 1928 The Lions won promotion to the Second Division as champions of Division Three (South). The previous year 42,250 saw Millwall beat Middlesbrough 3-2 in an F.A. Cup tie at The Den. In 1932-33 they achieved their highest League placing to date, finishing seventh, but after manager Bob Hunter died The Lions failed to win any of their last eight games and were relegated the following season.
The Second World War intervened just as Millwall were beginning to assemble a very strong side. In 1937 they became the first Third Division team to reach the Semi-Finals of the F.A. Cup. A crowd of 62,813 were at Leeds Road, Huddersfield to see them lose narrowly to Sunderland 2-1. A year later Millwall won the Third Division (South) championship again, winger J.R.Smith played twice for England and Tom Brolly became a Northern Ireland international.
As war was drawing to a close Millwall made their first Wembley appearance in the Football League (South) Cup Final, losing 2-0 to Chelsea. The immediate post-war years were a struggle for The Lions. In 1948 they were relegated back to Division Three and a decade later they became founder members of the new Fourth Division.
There were embarrassments and heroic exploits in the FA Cup during this period, the most notable of which saw the mighty Newcastle United beaten 2-1 in the 4th Round in 1957 before a 45,646 crowd.