The A-Z of Millwall – X is for… X-rated

© Millwall FC
© Millwall FC

OK, so when I decided to embark on the journey that is 'The A-Z of Millwall', two letters jumped out at me as being hard to do.

The first of those was Q, the second being this week’s letter, X.

However, fear not, Lions fans. Your A-Z needs have been fulfilled once more – just read on…

A red card is usually dished out by the referee for a challenge that is deemed 'x-rated'. Since bookings and sending-offs were introduced into football in the 1970s, the Lions have picked up a whopping 166 red cards.

Shaun Williams' headbutt at Coventry City on April 16 took the tally to its current total, with the record books going all the way back to October 2, 1979 for the club's first red card when Tony Towner was shown a second yellow for handball in a 2-0 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday.

Somewhat unsurprisingly, Alan Dunne has been sent for the most amount of early baths in a Millwall shirt – his 10 red cards sees him top the list, with Lions legends Keith Stevens and Alex Rae next, having earned six reds in their careers in SE16.

Shane Lowry, Tony Craig and David Livermore sit on four, while Paul Robinson and current centre-back Mark Beevers both have three red cards to their name.

Further down the list, here's something that might surprise you – Terry Hurlock was only sent off twice during his Lions career!

Carl Emberson was the first Millwall goalkeeper to receive his marching orders when in an Anglo-Italian Cup tie with Crystal Palace on September 14, 1993 a professional foul ended his afternoon in the 24th minute.

Just over a year later, Kasey Keller secured his one and only red card in a Lions shirt. Over a decade passed until the next one when Andy Marshall left Millwall a man short in the 23rd minute at Reading, meaning that long-throw specialist Adrian Serioux had to deputise between the sticks. It didn't work – the Lions lost 5-0.

Marshall was sent off again later that season at Burnley, but Richard Beeby waited until after the final whistle to dish out his punishment on a night that had already seen the Lions reduced to nine, due to Ben May and Jody Morris' earlier red cards. Lenny Pidgeley became the fourth goalkeeper to enter the record books in an away game at Cheltenham Town the following campaign, with Jordan Archer's sending off against Gillingham rounding up the total to five.

Some of those 'x-rated' challenges have deserved their subsequent punishment, but over the years the club have also been on the wrong end of some questionable decisions.

Shortly before the 2004 FA Cup Final, Danny Dichio was sent off in a game at Nottingham Forest for what most would call 'handbags'. Despite an appeal (and one from the Tricky Trees, too), the decision was upheld and Dichio missed the final.

September 22, 2013 saw referee Andre Marriner fall for the antics of Brighton and Hove Albion goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak, as Chris Taylor was shown a second yellow card despite not touching the stopper.

But one of the most bizarre sending-offs in the Lions' history came on December 15, 2007. In a hotly-contested game with Oldham Athletic at The Den, Arsenal loanee Jay Simpson levelled the scores at 1-1, seven minutes after Lee Hughes had given the Latics the lead. Already on a booking – and on the wrong end of some unfair treatment from referee Kevin Friend – Simpson went to celebrate the goal with the crowd, which included some members of his family.

As he went to make his way back to the centre-circle for kick-off, Friend produced a second yellow and therefore a red, sending the striker on his way for an early bath. He certainly wasn't anyone's friend that day.

There, that wasn't bad, was it? Just two to go – we're nearly there…

(Source: Millwall History Files)

Mark Litchfield