Millwall player profile – Paul Moody (1999-2000)

Paul Moody
Paul Moody

He only made 69 appearances in a Lions shirt, but Paul Moody was a vital instrument in Millwall's success at the turn of the century.

After Moody was signed from Fulham for £150,000 signing in 1999 at the age of 32, many Lions fans may have been forgiven for thinking that the striker was joining for a final pay day.

However, two years and 26 goals later, Moody departed The Den having left a legacy as one of the club's most influential strikers in its history.

The towering frontman made his debut at Cardiff City on the opening day of the 1999-00 season and went on to notch 11 league goals – along with strike partner Neil Harris' 25 – as Keith Stevens and Alan McLeary's young Lions unfortunately lost out in the Division Two play-off semi-finals to Wigan Athletic.

Included in those goals was a first of two hat-tricks in a Millwall shirt in a 5-0 demolition of Reading at The Den, as well as a brace of goals in both the trips to Blackpool and Cambridge United to single-handedly win the Lions the points.

By the time the 2000-01 campaign began, opposition teams knew that they not only had to deal with the quickness and goal-scoring ability of Harris, but they also had to deal with the industrious battering ram known as Paul Moody. With Richard Sadlier waiting in the wings, too, it is fair to say that that particular season feautured perhaps the greatest front line the club has ever seen.

Moody missed a chunk of the first part of the season through injury, but made his return as a 21st-minute substitute for Christophe Kinet in a home game with Wrexham on November 11. The striker made an instant impact, scoring the only goal in a game that saw the Lions cement their position in Division Two's top six. Not afraid to put his head where the boots were flying, Moody stooped to nod home Paul Ifill's cross for his second of 13 league goals that season.

His second hat-trick came as Millwall demolished promotion rivals Wigan Athletic 3-1 at The Den, and he also weighed in with important goals in wins over Colchester United, Bristol Rovers and Cambridge United.

While Moody's style was boisterous and in your face, he was also capable of wowing the Den faithful; fans of a certain year will remember a delightful chip in an FA Cup win over Leigh RMI, the game having been switched to south London for safety reasons.

With the Lions having already won promotion to Division One at Wrexham the week before, there was a party atmosphere in SE16 on May 5 as Mark McGhee’s side welcomed this weekend’s opponents Oldham Athletic to The Den. A win would capture the title and with Moody on a hat-trick and with Millwall 4-0 up, the Lions won a penalty. The striker therefore had a chance to bag a hat-trick of hat-tricks for the season but, with Harris one behind Reading's Jamie Cureton in the race for the golden boot, the ball was snatched away from the big man. That drew a small smattering of boos but the penalty was dispatched by the leading scorer, who finished the season as the joint-top scorer in the division.

That game was to be Moody's last real involvement with the Lions. He made one League Cup appearance at Gillingham the next season followed by a league start at Preston North End, but after being demoted to the bench for the home game against Barnsley – a night that saw the return of Harris from his time out overcoming testicular cancer – he was sold to Oxford United for £150,000.

The likes of Harris rightly receive the limelight for scoring the majority of the goals, but the effectiveness of players like Paul Moody shouldn't be underestimated.

The striker will be Jimmy Carter’s guest in the Executive Lounge at The Den this weekend – wouldn't you love to see those two, in their prime, in this current team?

I know I would!

Mark Litchfield