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View From The Dolan Stand: Millwall, Tacos And Mark ‘Saviour’ Bowen

Ben’s alternative look at the Mad Stad matchday experience this week takes in the delights both on and off the field.

Soccer - Sky Bet Championship - Reading v Middlesbrough - Madejski Stadium

The Preston game left me warm and fuzzy. I withheld from telling everyone I knew that we “were back”, as I wasn’t sure if Mark Bowen was actually our saviour just yet. That game rolled nicely into QPR away, a game I usually go to for three reasons:

  1. I deeply enjoy looking around Westfield shopping centre, to peruse all the shops that The Oracle can’t afford to have.
  2. There is a fabulous (and I mean fabulous) nut emporium selling all kinds of nut products just round the corner from the ‘stadium’.
  3. I avoid giving myself vertigo by going to the game, as watching it on TV with that ridiculously steep stand where the cameras are positioned is truly awful.

In the event, I didn’t go. I watched it at home. And in between the bouts of vertigo, I realised I was developing another feeling: a feeling that we’d probably end up in Europe in seven years time with Mr Bowen in charge. He was indeed Our Saviour.

On to Millwall at home then. A fixture steeped in animosity and savagery since the Mark McG*** years, leaving the Mad Stad truly rocking with around 9,000 people in attendance to witness regular division two tussles which saw children left at home and Thames Valley Police working overtime.

In addition to these historical nuggets, Millwall at home back in the summer of 2005 saw possibly the greatest goal I’ve ever seen scored at the Mad Stad: a wonderful solo effort from Bobby Convey to get the ball rolling on a 5-0 win.

Reading v Preston North End
Bobby Convey in full flow
Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Pre-match, I dined on a two-pint vessel of Carling from the Walkabout (I was taken in by the ‘what’s better than one pint? Two pints’ poster) and a healthy slice of expectancy. We would win today. No doubts.

At the ground, an Anonymous coffee was washed down with an early rocket from Jordan Obita. Millwall had no idea what they were doing and Reading were running riot. A John Swift free kick kissed the crossbar before Sam Baldock rifled a stunner in to the top corner to make it 2-0. Mild applause from the Eamonn Dolan faithful followed, which in turn led to some early openings of the home-bought snacks.

Cue 41 minutes. I bounced down the steps of B13 like a child heading to the living room on Christmas Day morning, towards the concourse. I knew what I was doing and I knew what I needed: cauliflower tacos.

As the queue for the burger tent was 15 deep, I smugly placed my order, paid for it using contactless (technology!!), and dined on a veritable festival of flavours. Absolutely delicious. I’ve always said that soft tacos are the best form of taco and I was pleased to keep this theory after a spicy, smoky dish which was topped with diced red onion, charred corn and coleslaw. Yes.

The second half saw nerves become frayed a little. Aside for some showboating from Ovie, nothing much happened. Millwall scored. Someone in front of me dropped their flask, spilling a liquid not dissimilar to gravy, causing mild panic for the owners of the programmes that lay on the floor. Reading held on to win, leaving me to ponder what type of curry Our Saviour Mark Bowen would celebrate with.

I gather there was some ‘action’ outside the Eamonn Dolan after the game, Millwall fans no doubt asking less than politely where the nearest Nando’s was and no doubt losing their minds when they were told there were two in town. Oh the choices!

We can now win ugly and that can only be a good thing. For me, I now view cauliflower as more than the ‘ugly’ vegetable and can testify first hand to its versatility.

On to Luton!