The A-Z of Millwall – R is for… Relegation

© Millwall FC
© Millwall FC

A couple of weeks ago, we looked at the Lions' promotions over the years, of which there have been 10.

In this week’s edition, let's take a look at the relegations suffered over the years. In perfect symmetry, there have also been 10 of those, too.

The first came in 1933-34, as the club were sent back down to Division Three South, after a six-year stay in Division Two. In a final-day showdown, the Lions faced off against Manchester United, with the winners earning a stay of execution; unfortunately, the Red Devils would be 2-0 victors.

Due to the Second World War (which saw competition completely suspended), despite being a Second Division club for a decade, Millwall only spent three seasons in the second tier in the 1940s, and suffered relegation once more, finishing rock bottom of the table behind Doncaster on goal average, under the stewardship of Jack Cock.

The 1958-59 campaign saw the Lions become founder members of Division Four, caused by relegation from the third tier the season before. Twelve goals from Johnny Shepherd could not save the club from slipping to the bottom of the pyramid as Jimmy Seed became manager, with Ron Gray reverting to his assistant.

1963-64 started a remarkable chain of events at The Den. The Lions suffered the fourth relegation in their history, as they once more fell to Division Four, but two seasons later, they would be back in Division Two after two successive promotions under Billy Gray and a 59-game unbeaten run at home.

After nine years in Division Two, Millwall were demoted to the third tier in 1974-75, after they failed to beat Bristol Rovers – who would've replaced them in the relegation zone – on the final day of the season. After instant promotion, three more years were spent in the second tier, until George Petchey's side were once more sent down to Division Three, joining Sheffield United and Blackburn Rovers on their downward journey.

The 1989-90 campaign saw Millwall's relegation from their historic period playing First Division football. Five wins in 38 league games was not enough for Bruce Rioch's men, despite a combined 23 goals from Teddy Sheringham and Tony Cascarino.

An eighth relegation came in remarkable circumstances in 1995/96, as the Lions dropped into the bottom three for the first and only time on the final day of the season, despite being top at Christmas. After Mick McCarthy left to take the Republic of Ireland job, Jimmy Nicholl's side won just 11 points during the remainder of the campaign, eventually suffering relegation on goals scored, after a goalless draw at Ipswich Town on May 5.

The club returned to Division One in 2001, but experienced the sadness of relegation once more in 2005-06, as a tumultuous season ended with the prospect of third tier football after the Lions went through five managers, two chairman and more than enough players.

The clubs 10th and final relegation to date came last year, as caretaker manager Neil Harris' heroics could not save the Lions from the damage caused by Ian Holloway earlier in the season.

Here's hoping that there aren't many more to add to the list!

Mark Litchfield