A look at our Wembley opponents Part 1 - Harris
With less than a week to go to the final at Wembley, let's take a look this week at some of the men that will try and stop us from lifting the trophy and gaining promotion. Will history be on our side as correct me if I am wrong we have never lost a play off final at Wembley, the only loss at Wembley we have experienced was the League Cup final against Swansea. Millwall are a dangerous side that failed at the last hurdle last season and like us they will want to go at least one step better, they crept into the final play off position with serious form the 2nd half of the season and knocked out early pace setters Scunthorpe over 2 legs in their own back yard in Lincolnshire. So who is the mastermind behind Millwall's challenge?
Neil Harris the role model to men.
First of all I want to raise awareness about male health and one fight Harris has had I wouldn't want to wish on anyone. Neil Harris was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2001 and thankfully was caught early and treated successfully. Neil Harris has beaten cancer which too many succumb to, the mentality and the support men require needs to improve and Harris should be a shining beacon of a role model for men that have or may have cancer of any form or any other serious illness. I take my hat off to you Mr Harris as I have a lot of respect for you coming out into the public domain and talking about beating testicular cancer. Women and the media may joke about "man's flu", but when it comes to serious illnesses, men tend to suffer in silence and carry on regardless. Maybe the jokes of men suffering from everyday illnesses like the "man flu" enhance the social stigmas upon men and push men into not seeking help when we truly need it. Think next time before telling a male friend, colleague or relative that is ill to "man up" or "you'll be rite" or "stop being soft" just because they are a guy, this is part of the problem. Male well being and male health is just as important as female well being and female health and the media/society's attitude and support need to change and improve including our own and not worried about seeking help.
Neil Harris the footballer.
Over 2 spells at Millwall Harris is the Lion's all time leading goal scorer overtaking Teddy Sheringham with 138 goals in all competitions, Sheringham managed 111 in his time at Millwall. Although Barry Kitchener has the most club appearances, Harris is no.4 when comes to appearances for the club. So a bit like our own Stuart McCall, Neil Harris is very close to the club and has many ties which makes him synonymous to the Lions and their supporters, so winning or losing he will take personally. As a player Harris has tasted success at Wembley gaining promotion to the 2nd division in the 2009/10 season as Millwall finished 3rd knocking out Huddersfield Town in the semis and in the play off final beating Swindon Town. It may be easy to forget, but in the 2003/04 season, Millwall got all the way to the FA Cup final not once facing a Premiership club until Man U in the Wembley showpiece which they lost 3-0. A great experience for the Lions and an FA Cup runners up medal for Harris. He got to share the pitch with some great players such as Keane, Ronaldo, Scholes and Van Nistlerooy plus others and I am sure any Millwall fans reading this, those names will conjure up some great memories from that season. As a player Neil Harris was adorned with the nickname of Bomber in reference to Arthur Travis Harris when he became the leading English goal scorer to win the Golden boot in the 2000/01 season.
Neil Harris the manager.
Excluding a couple of caretaker positions, his current post at Millwall is Harris' first in management and a position he has held since the end of the 2014/15 season. During his time at The Den Harris has managed Millwall in 128 games winning 63, drawing 28 and losing only 37 games in all competitions. Harris took over when Ian Holloway was sacked as Millwall was facing more or less certain relegation, it was only a couple of months earlier the mighty Bantams knocked Millwall out of the FA Cup 4-0 which the winner was rewarded to a trip to Stamford Bridge, I am certain the result at Stamford bridge was a scoreline the Lions enjoyed as much as the Bantams. Harris' first full season as a manager saw Millwall finish last season in 4th place above ourselves deservedly beating us 1-3 after going down to an early penalty at Valley Parade, this helped set up a final against Barnsley who won last year's Wembley encounter 3-1. This season Millwall have threatened the play off party and for me I wanted them just to miss out as I see them more of a threat than Southend or Rochdale. I really am glad we didn't face them in the play off semis as I think it would have been deja vu to last season. Let's not forget Millwall's cup run this season knocking out 3 Premiership teams including going a man down and still knocking out Leicester to reach the quarter finals, the other 2 Prem teams Millwall knocked out were Bournemouth and Watford. In a short amount of time, Harris is proving to be a very talented tactician and a manager I would love to see tested at a higher level, be that at Millwall or elsewhere.