The biggest small club in the world got a little bit bigger recently. It’s all thanks mainly to a man named Mike Calvin and the book he has been promoting recently titled Family, Life Death and Football in which Mike spent a year as a fly on the wall of Millwall’s dressing room in our promotion season to the Championship.
The book itself is a revelation to any football fan, one that supporters of what Mike has dubbed ‘proper clubs’ will be able to completely relate to and yet - on a completely different perspective - one that would bewilder those fans of the commercialised, Americanised teams in the country (see Manchester City’s stolen Polish celebration or research the creation of the Crystal Palace ‘Ultras’ as perfect examples of football fans devoid of true thoroughbred passion).
My one gripe on the book has nothing to do with the book itself but more down to the double edged effect it is having to our fan base during this dire half season we have had. The book gave fans a window into how our club was run, who the big voices were and how the manager got the best out of his players despite having a transfer budget of less than what Carlos Tevez ‘earns’ in one week.
We enjoyed and took heart from the book the following season as the Lions marched up the table and almost made a third consecutive play-off birth, narrowly missing out on the second to last game of the season. Then the summer came, we lost Steve Morison to Norwich and replaced him with what many people believed (though gladly I can say I was not among them) was an injury-prone player in Darius Henderson that wouldn’t score more than 10 goals! (He is currently on 12 so far). Not only that but we would sign an unfit Jay Simpson on loan and an unproven winger in Liam Feeney (later to be found as another masterstroke signing).
However the fans couldn’t help wondering where the Morison money had gone? They fretted for the season and their window that they had the previous season was now out-dated. Fans now demand complete transparency on the situation of striker Josh McQuoid, attack John Marquis for running his socks off despite being only 19 and our most prolific scorer last season! (4 goals in 11). They probably see a little bit of the Lewis Grabban(Chapter 7 - House of Fun) in either or both of them which would be harsh indeed.
Our defence that was so solid last season was shaken early on and we were bleeding goals. Heads dipped and people called into question Paul Robinson’s ability as a captain. What they fail to realise is that ‘The Guvnors’ they read about in the book that aided Robinson are no longer there. The group of old heads who knew what it was to be Millwall but unfortunately their ability could not match their drive in the Championship and they were allowed to play for contracts (to feed their families) elsewhere.
The club has undergone a period of free fall and its in times like this where fans are demanding answers from the manager that a revealing book like Family makes any lack of communication seem like a defensive stance or perhaps an admission of defeat by the manager, particularly in the age of Twitter where players lives are streamed for the world.
However, I believe that on the back of his achievements and the details of how he runs the club that are revealed in Family that Kenny Jackett has had the backing of the majority of our support all season and will continue to have it (even if we were to get relegated) where so many other clubs have and would have replaced the manager. So for that Mike, I thank you.
Family, Life, Death and Football is by far the best football book you will read this or any other year and here are the links to a few promotional pieces for anyone looking to do more research as well as a link for anyone wanting to buy the book now!
http://www.talksport.co.uk/radio/listen-again/episode/61905 Interview with ex-Sky Sports Andy Gray and Richard ‘would you smash it?’ Keys on talkshite - Mike is on 1200-1300
Buy the book here…