In 1993, after 83 years at what is now known as the Old Den, Millwall upped sticks and moved to their newly-built home at Senegal Fields. But they didn’t move far. Less than half-a-mile down the road, in fact, to the aptly named New Den on Zampa Road.
Plans to redevelop their former base were shelved numerous times over the years, along with ambitious ideas to build a ‘Super Den’ on the site of the adjacent New Cross Stadium, before it was decided upon that a whole new site altogether would be the most viable selection. It was a decision fans did not take lightly; Reg Burr, The Lions’ former Chairman, came in for particular criticism.
The Old Den backed on to the Surrey Commercial Docks on the banks of the River Thames and developed a reputation as one of the most hostile stadiums in the country with the rise of football hooliganism from the 1960s, with its blackened yellow crush barriers, sprawling concrete terraces and floodlights nestled conveniently in the middle of the away enclosure.
In comparison, its replacement features four almost identical stands with four open corners to accompany it. It’s clean-cut and does the job, but the widely accepted view among fans is that it is no match for its predecessor. The stadium’s record attendance stands at 20,093 for the visit of Arsenal in March 1994, though average attendance have peaked at 13,380 since they moved into the ground.
In September 2016, Lewisham Council approved a compulsory purchase order of land surrounding The Den rented by Millwall as part of a major redevelopment that would see the club’s car park and esteemed Community Trust replaced with thousands of private homes. The company pursuing this project, Renewal, had their plans favoured over Millwall’s and though there was a public inquiry into the compulsory purchase order in late 2017, no wrongdoing was found and The Lions’ future in Lewisham remains unclear.
Saturday’s trip to South East London will mark the 65th occasion the two sides have faced one another in the Football League; the first encounter took place in August 1920, which The Bees edged 1-0 thanks to a Reginald Boyne strike. Brentford have won two of the previous three meetings, with the most recent coming last October when Romaine Sawyers netted the second-half winner at Griffin Park.
The Club has received 2,067 tickets for the fixture – with over 1,200 having been sold at the time of writing - all of which are situated in the North Stand Upper. These are priced at £26 for adults, £17 for seniors, £13 for under-16s and £7 for under-12s, and can be purchased from the ticket office in advance or from the stadium on the day, subject to availability.
Did you know?
When the Den was completed in the summer of 1993, not only did it become the first newly-built stadium to comply with the 1990 Taylor Report, but it took the title as the first new stadium to be constructed for a professional football team in London since 1937.
How to get there:
It’s approximately 13 miles from Griffin Park to The Den by road, travelling by car through central London. Should supporters opt to drive this weekend, the most straightforward route involves departing the M25 at junction 2 and following the A2 Old Kent Road, which passes very close to the stadium. Other routes to meet the A2 include via the South Circular, the A3, through Clapham, or along The Embankment and via Vauxhall. The stadium sits on Zampa Road, a turning off the A2208, Ilderton Road a little further on. With no major car parks in the area, parking can be difficult to come by at the best of times, however, and travel by public transport is advised.
For a smoother journey, rail travel is perhaps the best option. The closest station, South Bermondsey, is just a few minutes’ walk from the Den and even features a seldom seen direct walkway into the stand for away fans, built to aid the police with sometimes challenging crowd management. It is around a five-minute journey on the Southern service from London Bridge station to South Bermondsey, with the journey from Brentford station taking just over an hour, with changes at Clapham Junction and Peckham Rye. Tickets for the latter journey are priced at just £6.50 for adults, and £3.25 for children. Surrey Quays, New Cross and New Cross Gate stations are further options, but are further afield and not usually recommended for away supporters.
Where to eat/drink:
There are not a huge amount of pubs in Bermondsey and the areas surrounding the ground, and those pubs that are open generally have a staunch home fans only policy. Nonetheless, with the aforementioned London Bridge just a short train ride away, there are a handful of pubs suitable for a pre-match food and refreshments, including the Shipwright’s Arms on Tooley Street, the Bunch of Grapes on St Thomas Street and the token Wetherspoons, the Pommelers Rest, on Tower Bridge Road. Further on into Borough Market is the historic Market Porter pub - which film fans may recognise as the 'Third Hand Book Emporium' in the film Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Meanwhile, on Borough High Street is the National Trust owned George Inn, another historic establishment, which serves its own George Ale.