Though not the first black players in Millwall, Trevor Lee and Phil Walker were the first black players to make an impact. Both signed in 1975, at a time when black players were rare sights in the upper tiers of English football. They were an immediate success, with Phil Walker awarded Millwall Player of the Year in 1978.
They were to be followed by more black players, some successful enough to have lasting nick names, like ‘Fash the bash’ (John Fashanu), or dedicated songs: ‘Walking along, singing a song, walking in a Witter wonderland’ (celebrating Tony Witter).Times have changed, with black players increasingly commonplace at Millwall and throughout English football. In 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2015 black players were voted Millwall’s player of the year.
‘I remember the first month, or six weeks, I had to sit there [in the stands], and there were some guys in front of me. Trevor Lee was never called Trevor for the first few weeks, he was always all the names under the sun, apart from Trevor Lee, you know. Then, after a few weeks, they started “yeah, go on, Trevor Lee”. And in the end, because he was playing so well, it went to “Trevor”. In that space, the six weeks, they changed the way they reacted to Trevor’.
(Phil Walker, Black British)
Here, Trevor Lee reflects on the experience of some of the first black players, and on how he and Trevor Lee came to inspire players like Cyril Regis:
Two of the more recent black Millwall players celebrating the promotion to the Championship in May 2017. Jimmy Abdou (right) was with Millwall throughout most of his career, with 342 appearances for the club from 2009 to 2017. Fred Onyedinma, aged 21, is one of the younger players. Of Nigerian origin, he has been with Millwall since the age of 12.