While established in 1885 by a group of English and Scottish workers at a preserve factory on The Isle of Dogs, Millwall FC has been associated with the South London docklands since moving south of the Thames in 1910. And the past lives on. The originally selected navy blue and white colours of St. Andrews remain the colours of the club, and one of the stands in the New Den, inaugurated in 1993, is named The Dockers Stand.
Father Owen has been involved with Millwall since the mid-1960s. His parish church, All Saints in New Cross, is the only church that boasts lion-shaped lightening conductor.
‘I started to fall in love with the place. […] it might well have been the spontaneity of the place. It was very real, very down to earth. “What you saw”, it’s a phrase that we use a lot in South East London,”what you saw is what you got”, you know, no pretence.’
But those days in South London also hold memories of poverty and over-crowding, as Herman Ouseley reminds us:
There is also a toughness that is reflected how Ouseley remembers one of the favourite players of the day – and one of the all-time greats:
‘And the legend was always, you might get past Harry Cripps once but you won’t get past him again, because he’ll kick you straight into the stands. […] when I played football with kids, other kids, they’d say,”you know, ‘I’m a Harry Cripps type, you know, you won’t get past me, I’ll do a Harry Cripps on you”. And it’s that sort of characteristic that went with the individuals. Not necessarily bad people, but had to live to the reputation, and wanted to live up to being a hard case and a tough nut. In that time. In that period.’