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Midlands Yellow

Nice piece on the Millwall message board

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Carrow Road is far from one of Millwall's happier hunting grounds. Indeed, if you are going to predict a hiding for one game in a season, our match at Norwich City is probably the one you'd stake your money on.

But how many people know how the Carrow Road ground came into being, and the strange circumstances?

From 1908, three years after Norwich joined the Southern League to replace Wellingborough Town (on whose Dog and Duck ground we also failed to ever win on) until our final game there in 1927/28, we played them at probably the oddest ground in England: The Nest.

This was an abandoned chalk pit to the east of the railway station, and from its steep, unpromising slopes, somehow Norwich City carved out a ground that even included a massive concrete wall behind one goal, which supported the kind of terracing offering a sheer drop that today would give Healthy and Safety officers a heart attack.

Even in that unique setting Millwall's Football League career was an unhappy one, winning just once. We even managed to lose there at the end of our all-conquering 1927-28 Division Three (South) season when we racked up a record number of goals and points. That 2-0 defeat would be out our last First Team visit there.

Season 1933-34 was a season of vividly contrasting fortunes for the two clubs: Millwall were relegated for the first time in their history and Norwich promoted for the first time in theirs. So in 1934-35 Norwich played their first-ever season of Second Division Football - while we were back in the Third.

During that season Norwich drew First Division Sheffield Weds in the FA Cup, and 25,007 people squeezed into the ramshackle chalk pit to create a new ground record, but in so doing scaring the wits out of the Football Association officials present. A few weeks later they contacted Norwich to tell them that their home was not one fit to safely carry large crowds and maybe the Canaries had better think about migrating.

They finished their League fixtures that season with a home game against Swansea Town, a 2-2 draw. The match programme, which I have before me, discussed the reasonable success of their first-ever 2nd division campaign and of forthcoming games at The Nest, a Hospital Cup game for charity with Arsenal and the curtain coming down with a Norfolk Senior Cup replay between their "A" side and Sheringham.

Nowhere was there a single mention - and nor was there in the Arsenal programme which is also at hand - that the curtain wasn't just coming down on the season, but the ground itself.

Because, in what must be the most remarkable example of building in football history, between the 4th May 1935 when Swansea departed The Nest for their journey home to South Wales and 31st August when the 1935/36 season begun they had constructed themselves a whole new ground on a piece of land the other side of the tracks on the Carrow Road. In an astonishing, record-breaking 82 days - less than 12 weeks - the Canaries hatched a stadium truly fit for second division football.

And not any old ground: one big enough to hold the 29,779 who swarmed through the turnstiles to see the opening day visit of West Ham United...a momentous match that ended in a thrilling 4-3 victory for Norwich. Thought it might have been different if Dave Mangnall had been declared fit for the visitors - that season he went on a scoring spree before joining Millwall and playing his part in taking us through to the FA Cup Semi-Finals.

So, a nightmare ground Carrow Road may be for Millwall (as was The Nest!), even though we won there before royalty on our first-ever First Team appearance in 1938.

But it remains, and always will be, a true wonder of the footballing world.

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Nice read that.

I could only imagine the type of replies such post would recieve on here if it was about our next opponents home ground though 

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Actually, I went there in or last promotion season and thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere both in the ground and a couple of locals. It was a massive contrast to experiences I had there in the dark old days.......but then again, many away grounds were dire!

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Really enjoyed reading that over breakfast. Made me forget how much I bloody hate porridge that I’ve been told to have . Thanks Midlands 👍. Also a big thanks to that Millwall fan . Top stuff . 

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Wow, there are some Millwall fans that can read and write? I wonder if any can drive a tractor?

Actually I enjoyed that, thanks. The thing that really stood out - building the new Carrow Road in 82 days. Now a days we can’t even manage a single stand in that time!

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I have to admit, I have a bit of a soft spot for Millwall in a similar way I do for Brentford - both smaller London clubs in the shadow of bigger teams, but have their own distinct, somewhat non-corporate identity and punch above their weight. For the want of a better phrase, a proper football club. Yes, Millwall has always had a bit more of a hooligan element than some, but I've always got the impression - possibly wrongly - that the real vitriol is really saved for their London rivals.

Usually they can play a fair bit but like a scrap with it. A more refined version of Rotherham, so to speak. They're never an easy out when at full strength and pretty fresh.

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I went to the Den a couple of times way back. Apart from dodging the darts and the sharpened coins which they threw through the fence at us it was perfectly safe........

Mind you, I also remember the Kop at Anfield around the same time wasn't a very pleasant experience either. Cigarette ends and fireworks in the hood of my parka a particular treat. Thank heavens those days are over.

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Not been to the 'New Den' as an away then - the fence is re-inforced all the way to the (SAAARF Bermondsey)train station and there its covered in thick plastic sheeting. "welcome" - darts and coins the least of your problems. Take a waterproof hoodie. 

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