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Forest on TV: "Let 'em come ... down ... to ... The Dennnn"

A version of this article was first published in "Forest Review" on Wednesday, 3rd October, 2018 versus Millwall


It’s exactly 25 years and one month since Millwall visited the City Ground for what seemed a routine fixture in Endsleigh League Division One.


Instead, it was season-defining turning point.


Millwall eased to a 3-1 victory, our late consolation from Lee Glover received with a collective sigh and even a few boos.

We’d lost six of our 14 league matches and up next were four aways on the bounce.


So, if you’d said that we would lose only three of our next 32 league matches in a thrilling charge to promotion – and, indeed, lose only 12 out of our next 86 as we tore up the Premier League to finish third – literally none of the 17,584 present would have believed you.


The little known Lars Bohinen debuted the following Saturday at Birmingham, we won 3-0, and a memorable and exhilarating phase in our history began under the shrewd stewardship of Frank Clark.


The Millwall home game wasn’t broadcast but the return in April 1994 was shown live in both the London (LWT) and Central regions.


Although, unusually, there were two different commentary teams sat on the gantry: Brian Moore and ex-Forest player David Pleat for London viewers and Alan Parry and John Sillett for us in the Midlands.


We were now second with Millwall just a place outside the play offs and we shared a blood and thunder 2-2 draw.


We’d taken sufficient support to have the rare distinction of being allocated the lower tier of the away end, which added to the bristling atmosphere.

Stan Collymore’s standard inflammatory celebration in front of the home fans for our first equaliser was wisely cut short by his team mates dragging him away.


Only seconds before Stan had confronted Millwall stalwart Keith Stephens as we showed a level of commitment rarely seen on our trips to South East London.

The incisive Pleat highlighted to London viewers how Collymore was good down both channels, in the air, and, for a big man, adept at turning in the box too.


This was in stark contrast to some others seeing Collymore for the first time as word spread about his special talent.


Earlier that season on BBC Radio Five, Jimmy Adamson inexplicably described Stan as “a bit like Niall Quinn” before he nearly broke the bar with a turn and shot at Manchester City in a League Cup replay.


Steve Stone’s near post header for the second equaliser at The New Den was notable initially for Jason Lee’s solo celebration at the far post where he falls backwards outstretched like a drunk collapsing into bed after a night on the sauce.

Then, as Millwall attacked from the restart, the curious situation of the game continuing whilst the Police wrestled with a lone Forest fan near our penalty box.

That was our first ever match at The New Den and just six years previously in October 1988 we’d visited The (old) Den for the first time in 12 years.


Remarkably, Millwall, in their first ever season in the top flight, were still undefeated and second by only a point.


Only a couple of weeks previously they were top of the league, somewhat proudly displayed by the front cover of their match day programme.

But, quietly, we were building another special team under Clough that would finish third twice, amongst plentiful Wembley visits and FA Cup Semi Finals.


In that era there were still a few unexpected ITV highlights programmes (and this was one) amongst the regular Sunday afternoon diet of “The Match Live”, introduced by Elton Welsby.

Sadly the cameras didn’t catch Cloughie’s pre-match psychology of stopping the team coach and making the players walk to the ground.


Martin Tyler was on commentary and he described Steve Hodge’s double as we cantered into a seemingly unassailable 2-0 lead at a hazy Den and Millwall’s proud unbeaten record was under serious threat.


When future Forest favourite Teddy Sheringham headed in it seemed merely a late consolation.


But, in fact, there was still time for Teddy to cross for slim-line substitute and future Forest foe, Neil Ruddock, to head home.

So 2-2 again, Millwall still undefeated in second, and us in 14th with only one win all season.


That would soon change though with a brilliant unbeaten run of 18 games in the New Year, including an unprecedented nine away wins in succession, as we finished third and Millwall a creditable tenth.


@_mattappleby

#nffc #nottinghamforest #millwall #stancollymore #teddysheringham #theden

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