The A-Z of Millwall – W is for… Wembley

© Edmund Boyden
© Edmund Boyden

Wembley Stadium. The Home of Football. The show-piece occasion. Millwall's second home.

Recently, anyway.

Millwall have played at Wembley Stadium – old and new – five times since their inception in 1885. Since the 2008-09 campaign, the Lions have found themselves making the short trip across London no less than three times – quite the achievement.

The first of those came at the end of the 2008-09 season when Millwall took to the field on a scorching hot afternoon to contest the League One play-off final against Scunthorpe United.

The Lions unfortunately finished second best in a classic encounter, but the day will no doubt be remembered for Gary Alexander's outstanding strike in the first half, which put Kenny Jackett's side back on level terms at 1-1.

The following season, Jackett (above)and Millwall returned to the Borough of Brent for their second successive play-off final. This time they banished the demons of the previous year, defeating Swindon Town 1-0, courtesy of captain Paul Robinson's strike, to win promotion to the Championship.

Three years later, under Jackett once more, the Lions graced the Wembley turf again when they met Wigan Athletic in the semi-finals of the FA Cup.

On a day which saw the club hit the headlines for the wrong reasons, the Latics eased to a 2-0 win and would go on to win the cup, defeating Manchester City in the final.

As far as the old Wembley goes, the club played under the Twin Towers twice – but just once officially.

In 1945, the War Time Cup Final was contested between Millwall and Chelsea, who won 2-0, but the competition was not officially registered. Therefore, the Lions' 'only' appearance at the old stadium was in 1999: Keith Stevens and Alan McLeary's young side reached the Auto Windscreen Shield Final, where they faced Wigan.

In the game that began a rivalry that still stands today, Andy Liddell's deliberate handball was not seen by the referee in the final moments of the game before his cross found the onrushing Paul Rogers, who stroked the ball past Ben Roberts, handing the Latics the trophy.

Of course, there could and should have been a sixth visit to the Home of Football in 2004, as Dennis Wise's Lions made the FA Cup final. But, due to the re-building of the stadium, the game against Manchester United was played at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

Perhaps there'll be a sixth Wembley appearance in May…

Mark Litchfield