This article is part of Football League World’s ‘Rewind’ series, this content strand is where we rewind back to a particular moment at a club, assess the initial reaction from the fans, and then proceed to evaluate and reflect on whether fans were right to react in that way…
Millwall are in the midst of a dramatic time at the moment with manager Neil Harris recently quitting his role as manager after four years at the helm of the club.
It now means the search is on for a replacement, with one very familiar name apparently under consideration to succeed Harris, according to the Telegraph.
And that person is former Lions’ striker Tim Cahill. He made the move to The Den in 1997 from Sydney United, going on to become a club icon, playing a pivotal role in their run to the 2004 FA Cup Final.
He left to join Everton that summer but remained in the hearts of Millwall fans everywhere.
So in January 2018, with the Lions chasing an unlikely place in the second-tier play-offs during their first season back in the league, there was a lot of excitement when his return was announced.
— Millwall FC (@MillwallFC) January 29, 2018
Now 37, Millwall fans will have been naive to expect that same bombarding displays witnessed 14 years earlier, but just the thought of seeing their Australian hero don the blue shirt again was seemingly enough to excite the masses.
I actually have a small tear in my eye. Welcome home Timmy. #MillwallFamily
— Jay shaw (@jayzon44) January 29, 2018
OH MY GOD, I WANT TO CRY! WELCOME HOME, LEGEND. WELCOME HOME, @Tim_Cahill💙🦁
— Teddy Nicoll (@Teddy_Nicoll) January 29, 2018
Shivers and goosebumps BIGTIME!!!!
— Miss J❤W Popcorn 🍿🐇❤🐻🐶🐼🍩🌹🦐👣🧦😘🍑😈🛏🎨 (@zamp69wall) January 29, 2018
Get in, love it..!
— JB (@beausy78) January 29, 2018
It is pretty rare that these emotional returns are anything other than a nice boost of PR and sadly, that is what this move turned out to be as well.
Whilst the excitement surrounding his return was more than understandable, his contribution during that spell back with the club came nowhere near to matching it.
Used solely as an impact substitute, Cahill racked up just ten appearances and no goals, although he did manage to scrape together four yellow cards – which it has to be said is pretty impressive.
Ultimately however, it was always going to be tough for him to nail down a spot. The Lions went on a 15 game unbeaten run after he signed and it is a testament to Harris’ professionalism that he resisted chucking Cahill into the side out of sentamentality.
It is also testament to Cahill’s professionalism, as well as his respect for the club, that this was a role he was more than happy to play.
In the end, however, the fans did not get to see that returning goal they so desired and Cahill left to join Indian side Jamshedpur for the final months of his career.