On 26th November this year marks an important date in the history of Millwall Football Club. On that date 50 years ago Millwall after beating Carlisle United set a new home league record by going 56 games at home unbeaten. They broke a record which had been set by Reading since January 1936 which was 55.
In the 1963/64 season, Millwall was relegated to the old 4th division on 20th April 1964 in their last home game of the season played against Bristol City and lost 1-0. On the final whistle the players just trudged off back to the dressing room, you had the normal pitch invasion which took place after every home game.
No players were abused there was no demonstration demanding the manager be sacked, no demos took place wanting the board out. Unimaginable today but the World of Football was very different then, not just at Millwall but football in general. If someone had said to supporters as they were leaving the Den that day that they would not see the Lions beaten at home in the League until 14th January 1967. And there would be 2 successive promotions from the 4th to the 2nd Division as runners-up they would have wondered “if you were in orbit around reality”. The manager who was responsible for this success was Manager Billy Gray who when the team was on the verge of promotion the previous season to the 2nd division was let down by the board and he resigned but agreed to wait until promotion was confirmed before he left. In my opinion, Billy Gray was let down by this club and was never given recognition and credit he so fully deserved.
On the 24th august 1964 the Lions played their 1st home game of the season in Div. 4 against Torquay Utd it was a 2-2 draw which was the start of this historic run the team was Stepney, Gilchrist, John, Julians, Snowden, Wilson, Rowan, Whitehouse, Dwight, Curran, Jones (D), the scorers were Curran, Whitehouse.
On 12th November 1966, Millwall played Ipswich Town which resulted in a 1-0 victory for the Lions which equalled the 30-year record ,the next home game was against Carlisle Utd 2 weeks later so everyone eagerly awaited to see if the Lions could break the record they needed to make sure they did not lose.
On the 26th November, the big day had arrived for Millwall the coverage before the game was big for the era and a 2nd Division game at that. The game kicked off at 3.15 which was the normal start time then.
It was a surreal experience really in the 1st half as it was largely non-eventful in terms of decisive action from both teams. Whether the Lions were quite content to just get a draw, who knows and even Carlisle were not exactly setting the place alight and the crowd was quiet which for the Old Den was strange, to say the least.
There was 16,000 in the Den and in the 2nd half Carlisle set the pace, as in the 65th minute, they took the lead when Welsh put them ahead. From that moment the Millwall crowd took control which livened up the Lions. The tackles were flying in and Carlisle were in full retreat and the crowd were at warp 9.
Millwall drew level about 5 mins later when Len Julian’s connected with a corner and the ball was in the back of the net, cue 1st pitch invasion the crowd was going mad.
Then in the 76th minute, Eamon Dunphy crossed and Lenny Julian’s who done a diving header and it was 2-1, thus the 2nd pitch invasion with the crowd going ballistic, it was sheer joy. From that moment then was never a chance of Carlisle getting back in the game they surrendered.
On 90 minutes the 3rd pitch invasion. The whole place was rocking and everyone was in the stratosphere.
The team which broke the record Leslie, Gilchrist, Cripps, Jones (K), Snowden, Wilson, Broadfoot, Hunt, Julians, Dunphy, Neil, the Sub was McCullough (not used)
We had played 55 different teams, 35 teams failed to score and we kept 8 successive clean sheets; The Old Den was a true fortress.
That team never lost before the unbeaten run ended on 14th January 1967. We had played 59, won 43, drew 16, lost 0 goals F 112 goals A 33.
This run is right up there with all great moments in Millwall history. The celebrations went long into the night down the Old Kent Road.