32,000 Millwall fans roared with delight at Wembley this afternoon as the Lions of the New Den beat Swindon Town one nil to win the League One play-off final. Captain Paul Robinson scored the winning goal after 38 minutes in the first half with a strike inside the six yard box from a corner.
In a long season when they missed out on an automatic promotion spot by one point, Robinson said winning the game means “absolutely everything to me. It was important we kept a clean sheet.” Neil Harris said “This is the most important moment of my career.” It was Robinson’s seventh goal of the season in beating a team they had overcome at the Den three weeks ago.
Millwall manager Kenny Jackett praised the character of the club:
“The strength and character of this club is considerable in coming back here to win promotion after last year. We have made sure it was our season so we gave ourselves a chance. The players responded very well.”
Up until today Millwall had lost five play-off finals. They have smashed the jinx, and played disciplined football in holding out despite four minutes of added time. Attendance at Wembley was 73,106 and Millwall now return to the second tier of English soccer following their relegation in 2006. Promotion will boost revenue, increase attendances and take Millwall to the brink of potential premiership membership. In a season that saw Blackpool, a side with gates less than Millwall, join the likes of Chelsea, Man Utd, Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool, the dream of premiership soccer in Lewisham is alive again. They last enjoyed top flight football in season 1988-89.
Kenny Jackett had a squad of players with many who had the experience and mental strength of knowing Wembley disappointment against Scunthorpe last season, including Paul Robinson, David Forde, and Neil Harris.
Striker Steve Morison, with a tally of 23 goals this season, had lifted the FA Trophy at Wembley for Stevenage Borough on two separate occasions.
Millwall were founded at Morton’s Jam factory on the Isle of Dogs in 1885 and first started playing at the old Den in Cold Blow Lane in 1910.