By John Wade
I want to spell out my recollections of this season, Wembley, a bit about the past and my hopes for the future.
A great experience, a sad day, but anyone who disagrees with having play offs and with the final being at Wembley, is, in my opinion, wrong. I love the stadium, the atmosphere, the presentation, the friendliness of the stewards and police, and am amazed at the speed and efficiency of London Transport with the tubes. The game ended at 4.55pm, we were in Piccadilly Circus before 6pm.
2) The match
I thought we would win, but at half-time I thought we had missed our chance, having dominated. Sadly, I was correct in the second view. I have never claimed to be an expert on football, but think City build up too slowly, and give their opponents time to regroup. The style in the first half was great to watch, but the score remained 0-0.
We played 285 minutes in the play offs and scored one. Surely, that says it all. I will leave it to others to dissect individual players and tactics, but will simply say that I do not know how Charlie Wyke can be expected to score when he rarely gets a pass nearer than 35 yards out, and is usually facing away from the goal. I like Alex Jones, and think he is not yet fully fit.
A young Gary Jones, or even better, a young McCall would have sent us up. So I think we need a strong direct attacking midfielder.
We met many of their fans on the tube. Courteous, polite, noisy. I liked them. They have a couple of hundred idiots latching onto them, and the problem should be dealt with. The Wembley authorities, the police, the FA, the EFL, Millwall FC should deal with them. But they won’t. It is not the fault of the 98% of their decent fans.
4) The past
I have supported City since 1948/9. There have been a few false dawns, a few highlights, a deceiving renaissance under Richmond, but mostly misery in a dreadful stadium. Since Phil Parkinson came in there has been a year-by-year improvement in every way. This has been continued, probably accelerated, under Stuart. I now really look forward to watching them in a modern stadium, and this has been unusual in most of the post-war era.
5) This season
I am proud to support City, and no longer feel apologetic. Millwall fans asked me about our season ticket prices, and were amazed and envious. City are now well-known and respected in football.
McCall has done well, considering what he inherited, as have the new owners. Mind you, Rhodes and Lawn seem to have been very careful in whom they sold to, and we must thank them for that. Look at Forest, Orient, Coventry, Morecambe, even Leeds.
We didn’t make it, but we have been well entertained all season, and, all in all, it has been a very good season.
6) The future
On the assumption that the owners do not let us down – and I see no reason to think they will – we must be in for an exciting and successful future. I am writing this with no knowledge of the retained list or new signings, but have faith that we shall be happy with them.
I wish we owned the stadium, I would love to see the main stand completed and the old buildings at the Bradford End demolished, and I would love to see City successful in the Championship, but getting there automatically so I don’t have to suffer the agony again. I am not really interested in the Premiership, seeing that as a plaything for foreign billionaires and “glory-hunting” so-called supporters.
The make-up of the City crowd, even at Wembley, pleases me. Millwall fans were almost exclusively white and male. City much more mixed race, a lot of ladies, little children, boys and girls. That is great.