Be it the Old or the New Den, like this Saturday, games against Millwall hold plenty of happy memories for the boys in yellow and green.
The most recent meeting between the two came earlier this season when, on a Friday night in front of the Sky cameras, Josh Sargent’s brace saw City through to a 2-0 win. Back then, it saw us leapfrog the Lions in the table and move up to fifth place.
Looking way back, it took a while for City to record their first win at Millwall, which came on 26th February 1949 on our tenth visit to The Den. The 3-1 victory that day ended a miserable run, which included 6-0 and 6-1 defeats.
The home form during that period was much better with just one defeat in the first eight contests. One game in particular that stands out was on 29th October 1938 – the single defeat. Millwall won 2-0 – a City defeat that was witnessed by reigning British Monarch, King George VI. It was the first time a king of the realm had attended a game outside of the top flight.
King George viewed a Norwich squad that was destined for relegation and it would be another 30 years before we faced Millwall again in the Second Division. Before then there would be a couple of lows, in particular the 1956-57 season when City ended the season at rock bottom of the English professional pyramid and had to rely on their fellow clubs for re-election. A 5-1 thrashing by Millwall was a particularly low point of an awful season.
In the 1971-72 season, etched in history as one of City’s finest, Millwall were one of our rivals for those coveted top two positions and they took three points (in those days it was two for a win) beating us 2-1 at The Den followed by a 2-2 draw at Carrow Road.
Despite the Lions’ impressive results against Ron Saunders’ eventual champions, Millwall agonisingly missed out by a single point – finishing third behind Norwich and Birmingham.
An early-season defeat to the Lions in August 1985 continued a disappointing start for the pre-season favourites but class would soon show and the title challenge was in full flow by the time Millwall arrived in Norwich for a pre-Christmas clash. The 6-1 victory was a highlight among many that season and the largest win in a run of 18 undefeated league games.
Millwall joined us in the top division in 1988-89. The away game that season was notable for a couple of reasons: it was only the second time (and the first away from home) that a Norwich league game had featured live on TV (ITV’s The Big Match) and it was the first time City had played a league game on a Sunday. Both facts are unbelievable in today’s football environment.
The game itself was a classic settled in the last minute by a spectacular Robert Fleck Volley after City had been pegged back to 2-2.
We are unbeaten against Millwall in the top division with two wins and two draws in the four games between 1988 and 1990.
There was a 2-1 FA Cup win on 5th February 1992. It was our only meeting in the cup and an important one, coming in the fourth round, part of a cup run that cumulated in the semi-final when we lost 1-0 to Sunderland.
It hasn’t always been great against Millwall though. There was a dismal 4-0 opening day defeat of the 2001-02 season although City would recover with both sides making the end-of-season play-offs.
Then there was also another 4-0 loss early in 2017-18, a watershed moment in the early days of Daniel Farke. It was an eye-opener for the young German coach and City would never again be quite as poor under him as they were that day in South London.
Before Farke, there was a massive 6-1 win on Boxing Day 2014, however, it wasn’t enough to save Neil Adams. It was his final home game and two away defeats later he was gone. His replacement, Alex Neil, led City to a 4-1 away win later in March 2015 – a 10-1 aggregate win over the 2014-15 season.
And we can’t have a Norwich/Millwall article without reference to 10th November 2018 and a comeback of epic proportions.
City were dead and buried at 3-2 down – after Mo Leitner had earlier given City a 2-1 lead – as the clock moved into injury time, but Farke’s vintage never accepted defeat. First Jordan Rhodes netted a late equalizer before, in the 97th minute, Teemu Pukki sent Carrow road into meltdown with a fine, late late winner.
The finest comeback at Carrow Road – at least it was until Forest a month or so later but that’s another article for another day.