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It's like Groundhog Day whenever Millwall are at home
4:36pm Tuesday 20th August 2013 in Sport
LIONS columnist MATT LITTLE is getting well and truly fed up of witnessing a familiar outcome every time he watches Millwall at The Den these days – yet another home defeat.
THE streets of Britain were bedecked with Union flags as neighbours came together to celebrate the Queen's Silver Jubilee by sharing tea and cakes.
Luke Skywalker was who every boy in the playground wanted to be as Star Wars hit the big screen for the first time.
Red Rum was riding his way into my great granddad's heart by winning the Grand National for the third time in a row.
And Fleetwood Mac's award winning album 'Rumours' was the soundtrack to an unusually hot British summer.
These are the events happening the last time Millwall lost their opening three games way back in 1977, some 36 years ago now.
If Steve Lomas thinks he's had it bad he should be glad for small mercies, as the Lions opened their 1977/78 Second Division campaign with a 3-0 thumping at the hands of the newly-christened Eagles of Crystal Palace in front of 15,000 unhappy home supporters.
However, we did at least manage to score in our next two games in defeats away to eventual champions Bolton Wanderers (1-2) and at Brighton (2-3), who missed out on promotion to the top flight on goal difference.
A shock win up at St. James' Park with a 2-0 victory over Newcastle United in the League Cup would have upset the Likely Lads, but did nothing to help break our duck in the league with goal-less draws against Stoke City at The Den and with Mansfield Town away following.
We finally got our season going with an amazing 3-0 win over highly fancied Southampton, who did justify that tag by finishing runners-up but who shipped all three goals to the Lions before half-time.
Next up at Cold Blow Lane was a 1-1 draw with Charlton, followed by a 2-0 win up at Burnley.
Then our form plummeted badly again, with a 14-game run without a win dumping us in 21st place and staring relegation in the face.
Thank God football forums weren’t around back then, as all the budding Brian Cloughs who coach kids in the local park would have been in meltdown explaining how they’d sort it all out.
So when league leaders, and as mentioned eventual champions, Bolton Wanderers rocked up at The Den, they must have fancied their chances.
But the Trotters were soon put back in their place by going down 1-0 to the mighty Lions and no doubt reminded of the old Eamonn Dunphy saying The Den ‘is the wrong part of London’ if you thought southerners were soft.
This didn’t prove to be a turning point, though, as we moped miserably in the relegation places right up until the last month of the season, although we did beat mid-table Charlton pretty easily 2-0 at a crumbling Valley in that awful spell, obviously.
We eventually went on to overtake the Robins/Valiants as they were known back then by winning the last six games in a row to finish 16th, one place above our neighbours.
Palace finished ninth, Spurs joined Bolton and Southampton in the top flight, with Mansfield, Blackpool and Hull City going down to the Third Division.
As an aside, this was the season we were also forced to play our home game versus Bristol Rovers at Fratton Park due to crowd violence at our previous home game with Cardiff City.
An interesting idea from the authorities considering Portsmouth consider us their second rivals after Southampton.
Predictably it was a failed experiment with trouble between Millwall and Portsmouth fans breaking out, much to the bemusement of the attending Bristol Rovers fans.
Back to the future, given the fact we have survived such a bad start before means there is hope for us yet.
Well, that's what I'm telling myself.
I've been as positive as I can in these blogs so far, but I'm not sure how long I can keep it up.
The thing which frustrates me the most is how cowardly we’ve become at home - we seem so timid and scared to take games by the scruff of the neck or to really ramp it up.
We’ve lost two home games already this season, just a few years ago it took us nearly two years to achieve that same statistic.
It’s the opposition who should fear coming to The Den, not us fans, as it's starting to get really depressing now.
The controversial appointment of Steve Lomas was sold to fans as an exciting new era of attacking football, and the new man himself talked about how important it was to make The Den a fortress again.
Yet we've been served up the exact same pathetic dross we witnessed last season at home.
It's like Groundhog Day, we start OK, the opposition figure out we’re really not that serious about getting in their faces and go up a gear and nick a goal.
You’d at least expect one of the benefits of having a shouty type manager would be an aggressive and in-your-face team at home.
Not this bunch of pussycats.
It should be noted we got through three managers in 1977/78 and it unsettled the club enough to see us relegated the following season, condemning us to five years tittering on the edge of oblivion, before winning promotion in 1985 and embarking on the 'glory years' of the late 80s. Anyway, let's finish on something positive.
Other highlights from the 1977/78 season were the exciting 3-3 draw against a Glenn Hoddle inspired Tottenham at White Hart Lane and a run to the FA Cup quarter-finals, where we lost to the eventual winners in Bobby Robson’s impressive Ipswich Town side.
Oh, and the excellent ‘The Clash’ by The Clash was released, as well as the ground breaking Sex Pistols album most commonly known as ‘Never mind the Bollocks’.
Something I’d advise Steve Lomas and the team to do to hopefully get a result up at Sheffield Wednesday this Saturday.
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