Hearts played Millwall today in a pre-season friendly at The Den. I had toyed with the idea of attending and taking the opportunity to make a weekend of it in London, however, things happened, I left it too late and it became impractical given the other demands on my time. The match sounded like a reasonable contest as far as pre-season matches go. Hearts took the lead through an Eggert Johnson penalty on 12 minutes before Liam Trotter scored two with his head to put the Lions into the lead. Hearts managed to come out on top, however, thanks to two goals both coming from Craig Thomson free kicks. As always with these type of games the result is secondary. It's all about building match fitness, looking at fringe players, trying out new formations and getting he team prior to embarking on the real business of the league season.
The Hearts support at Millwall today
There was however an additional reason for today's game, given that is was a testimonial for Millwall's long serving striker Neil Harris.
The teams applaud Neil Harris on to the pitch
Neil Harris has had a very interesting career laden with achievement despite successfully battling testicular cancer in 2001. Signing for Millwall in 1998 from Cambridge City he made 233 appearances in his first spell at the club scoring 93 goals. His goals helped Millwall to the Division 2 championship in the 2000/01 season (league 1 in new money) and he was named as the club's player of the year, picking up the Golden Boot award for being English footballs top goalscorer in the process.
In 2004 Millwall's then player manager Dennis Wise saw fit to loan Harris out to Cardiff City. A short unsuccessful spell a Nottingham Forest followed, which included a loan spell at Gillingham, before Harris returned to his spiritual home at The New Den in 2007. Since returning to Millwall, Harris had thus far made a further 114 appearances (many from the bench) yielding 29 goals.
Harris is something of a cult hero to the Millwall faithful. one need only look on the wall outside The New Den to see a mural in his honour. I'm attempting to make contact with a Millwall fan I know of in order to put a few questions to him regarding his favourite memories of Neil (so far). If I'm successful in doing this I will, of course, add that content to this post.