The cover of the Millwall programme was pretty much the same through most of the nineteen fifties. A well-drawn illustration of two Millwall players, one about to strike the ball, and one opponent. The majority of the seasons saw this image printed on white paper but for 1954/55 the outside pages were printed on blue, poor quality, paper and that style continued for the following season before reverting to white.
The ‘Voice of Millwall’ has a self-congratulatory air as the club, after 14 games, are well placed in 5th position. The game has a promotion 4-pointer feel to it as Queens Park Rangers are 2 points behind Millwall in the place. Although the away side posted a 1-0 victory they slipped down the league as the season progressed to finish 15th. Millwall ended 1954/55 in the same place but rarely threatened to challenge the runaway champions, Bristol City.
The bulk of the rest of the programme was devoted to four main features;
‘Goal Debut for Pacey’ talked about the signing of Dennis Lacey from Leyton Orient as an answer to the team’s failure to convert chances into goals. He scored the only goal of the game on his debut away at Bournemouth and turned out to be a decent signing, although not reaching the heights of his goal-scoring at his previous club (36 in 132 against 46 in 120).
The second feature, ‘Incentive for Ramscar’ mentions the ‘brilliant ball-play’ of Freddy Ramscar and his ‘terrier-like tenacity, going on to highlight the playing against his old club, QPR, as an incentive for him to put the ball in the net. Fred wasn’t a great goalscorer (except for a purple patch at Northampton Town) and he obviously didn’t net in this home defeat. Overall his Millwall career only resulted in 5 goals from 30 games (at Rangers it was only 4 from 51).
‘Floodlight Fare’ advertises the upcoming floodlight game against First Division leaders Manchester City - highlighting their ‘Hungarian-style’ deep-lying centre-forward play. I wonder what the South London fans made of that. The mid-fifties saw most clubs cash in on the novelty of floodlights by inviting teams that the fans wouldn’t often have the chance to see (from both home and abroad even Scotland).
Finally; “Gross receipts at the public practice match on August 14th were £608 16s’. The notes then list the charities that benefited and by how much. These causes included many well-known charities but also featured; Lanyard Nurses, Dockland Settlements, Infantile Paralysis Fellowship and the Bread and Coal Society.
It’s worth noting that there are only 4 adverts in the issue, all in the centre, team sheet pages (though there is space to let for 2 more). One that is very rare for football programmes, at least in my experience, is Harry G.E. Coulson’s I LEND MONEY. No mention of the interest rates incurred though!!!!
The pen pictures of the visiting team are pretty standard fare although it is interesting that at the time, entering a player's height and weight was expected. The standout point though is the noting that the Rangers goalkeeper, Harry Brown, had played for Arsenal in the infamous ‘Farce in the Fog’ game against Moscow Dynamo in 1945 (see below).
The actual fact is even more odd in that the Arsenal keeper Wyn Griffiths had run into his goalpost in the fog and Harry had answered a call from the club’s tannoy system for a replacement. Brown answered that call narrowly ahead of Charlton’s Sam Bartram. Arsenal fielded several ‘ringers’ in this game, by the way, including Stanley Matthews. Moscow countered this by starting the game with between 12 and 15 players depending on where you read.