Millwall v Middlesbrough, Saturday 12th March 2022, 3pm

At the start of this season, I still had four of the current Championship grounds to tick off with a first visit. One of them was Millwall’s New Den, or as it is now getting on for thirty years old, just The Den again.  Harry was busy with a rugby tournament, so I only needed the one ticket which I was able to get fairly easily.

I booked a seat on the supporter’s club coach. I’d looked at travelling by train but that was a hundred quid more expensive and I’d have had to travel for about an hour and a half on various underground trains once there. I also thought about driving but the lack of parking and the cost and chew on of paying both a congestion charge and an emissions fee put me off. In the end the coach was the easiest option for a day trip. It was a long day though with a 7.30am departure from the Riverside and a midnight return.

The journey itself wasn’t too bad. I was fortunate that, unlike the last game, nobody was singing Boro songs at top volume. I took a book and bought a newspaper which was the first printed copy I’d read for a long time. There’s something more enjoyable about reading a real paper. Maybe I might have to start doing it more.

It took us almost seven hours to get to the Den. We passed through Greenwich towards the end of the journey, and it looks a lot smarter and more tourist-friendly than it did when I lived nearby in the mid-eighties.

The Boro had the upper tier of one of the stands behind a goal. The lower tier was kept empty except for those in wheelchairs. I spotted Paddy below me and had a half-time chat with him. He’d done it properly and driven down the day before. Maybe I should have done the same and had a mooch around Greenwich.

A benefit of having a whole stand with only the upper tier full was that the concourse area was big enough not to be crowded. I was able to watch the end of the televised lunchtime game without being jostled or having beer thrown over me. Stuff you think that you’d be able to take for granted.

I thought we performed ok. Djiksteel was a big miss going forward and we never really looked like scoring. However, we were solid at the back and on the basis that Millwall would have overtaken us if we’d lost, I was happy with a point and a clean sheet.

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