As we celebrate Millwall’s 125th year, we look at a significant player from each decade who has been part of the history of Millwall FC
In the early 1880’s a group of young lads from Scotland came to London to find work.
They found employment at Morton’s jam factory in the West Ferry Road on the Isle of Dog’s and within a few years had formed Millwall Rovers.
On Saturday 3rd October 1885 Millwall Rovers played their first ever game which they lost 5-0 against Fillebrook
As we celebrate Millwall’s 125th year, we look at a significant player from each decade who has been part of the history of Millwall FC.
1930’s JR ‘Reg’ Smith
James Christopher Reginald Smith was born in Battersea on 20th January 1912
Smith joined Millwall in August 1935 and turned out to be one of the best left wingers in the clubs history.
He was a great favourite with the fans with his dazzling wing play and silky skills, turning defenders inside out.
He was part The Lions’ epic F.A. Cup run of 1937 when they became the first team from outside the top two divisions to reach the semi-finals. A year later he was the driving force behind Millwall’s impressive promotion campaign that saw the club promoted as Champions to Division Two while also claiming the London FA Challenge Cup by defeating Crystal Palace.
Smith became Millwall’s last full England international in 1938, when he was selected for two games in seven days in November, despite only playing in the English second tier at the time. He scored twice on his debut versus Norway in a 4-0 win, but didn’t score in a 7-0 defeat of Northern Ireland.
The Second World War interrupted Smith’s career but he still found time to play in the odd wartime international for England and turned out on occasion for Millwall in the revised League programme. But the war was to signal the end of his Lions career and all but put paid to any hope of adding to his collection of international caps.
In the summer of 1959, Smith was approached by old club Millwall to replace Jimmy Seed as manager, and he returned to the Londoners for the beginning of the 1959-60 season
His side started well, setting a Millwall record 19 match unbeaten run. However, a high proportion of draws ensured they finished no higher than 5th, just missing out on promotion from Division Four
Despite challenging at the top of the table again the following season, Millwall sacked Smith in January 1961, replacing him with assistant Ron Gray.
Smith died in Cape Town, South Africa on 26th January 2004 (aged 92)
JR ‘Reg’ Smith (1935-1940 & 1945-1946)
Millwall career (competitive games only)
Football League: 117 Appearances – 21 goals
FA Cup: 13 Appearences – 4 goals
Other competitions: 8 Appearances – 1 goal.