The Den, formerly known as The New Den, is a football stadium in Bermondsey, south-east London, and it’s where Millwall Football Club plays their matches. It’s located next to the South London railway from London Bridge and not far from the Old Den, which it replaced in 1993.
The Den was built on land that used to have houses, a church, and the Senegal Fields playgrounds. It can hold 20,146 people, but they usually limit it to about 18,100 to make sure visiting fans are separate, and for safety reasons. The highest number of people who came to a match in the 2018–19 season was 17,195.
The Den is the sixth stadium that Millwall has used since they started in the Millwall area of the Isle of Dogs in 1885. Before this one, they played at other places like Glengall Road, Lord Nelson Ground, The Athletic Grounds, North Greenwich, and The Old Den.
The New Den, initially named to distinguish it from the old one, was the first all-seater stadium built in England after the Taylor Report following the Hillsborough disaster in 1989. It was designed with crowd safety in mind, especially considering Millwall’s crowd issues at their previous stadium. The new stadium was made with short and direct escape routes.
In 1990, chairman Reg Burr decided it wouldn’t work to turn the old Den into an all-seater stadium. So, the club announced they’d move to a new stadium in the Senegal Fields area of south Bermondsey. They originally planned for it to hold between 25,000 and 30,000 people, but they decided to wait, so it ended up with just over 20,000 seats. Millwall played their last game at the Old Den on May 8, 1993, after 83 years there, and then moved to the new stadium nearby. The New Den, costing £16 million, opened on August 4, 1993, and was inaugurated by John Smith, the leader of the Labour Party at that time, with a friendly match against Sporting CP, which Sporting won 2–1. It was the first new stadium for a professional football team in London since 1937.
Since moving to the Den, Millwall has had ups and downs. In their first season there (1993–94), they finished third in Division One, which was their highest finish in four years. However, they missed out on Premier League promotion after losing in the playoffs and got relegated to Division Two in 1996. They didn’t make it back to a higher division until 2001. They came close to reaching the Premier League in 2002, finishing fourth, but once again lost in the playoffs. In 2004, they reached the FA Cup final for the first time but lost to Manchester United. Still, they qualified for European competition for the first time in their history. Millwall has been relegated twice since then, in 2006 and 2015, but they’ve also won promotion in 2010 and 2017. Despite their efforts, the stadium has yet to host Premier League football, although Millwall played in the old First Division for two seasons from 1988 during their final years at their previous stadium.
On January 20, 2011, they gave the east stand of the Den a new name – the Dockers Stand. This was to honor Millwall’s past and their fans who were once Thames dockers. The south stand is called the Cold Blow Lane stand, which is the same name as the road that led to the Old Den. The north stand is where visiting fans sit, and the west stand was renamed the Barry Kitchener Stand, after Millwall’s player who served the longest. In the west stand, there’s a family section, a press box, and executive seats.