After play-off final defeat at the end of the 2015/16 campaign, Millwall were dealing with the fall out of missing out on an immediate return to the Championship.
Mark Beevers scored the Lions’ only goal in a 3-1 defeat to Barnsley in the League One play-off final they year before.
That would be the defender’s last contribution to the London side before a move up north to Bolton Wanderers.
Neil Harris was on the lookout for a replacement to partner Byron Webster at the heart of the Lions’ defence for an expected second successive promotion push.
And on June 21, 2016, Harris had his man.
Shaun Hutchinson arrived at the club on a free transfer after his release from Fulham.
— Millwall FC (@MillwallFC) June 21, 2016
The defender signed a two-year deal ahead of a second season in the third-tier for his new side.
And the reaction from the club’s fans were one of positivity ahead of a crack at a return to the Championship.
@shaunhutchy23 great signing, good work Bomber
— David B (@davidb_79) June 21, 2016
@shaunhutchy23 good signing, cheers lads
— Ben Hughes (@BenBenhughes13) June 21, 2016
— William Bailey (@Bailey16William) June 21, 2016
@shaunhutchy23 good to see NH replacing Beevers quickly
— john Bresnahan (@elbrezidente) June 21, 2016
Hutchinson made his debut for the club in the defeat to Peterborough on August 16, 2016.
It was one to forget for the defender who had to come off after 77 minutes with a hamstring injury picked up in the loss.
Millwall would be hammered 5-1 on that occasion, and the 25-year-old would be out until the end of October.
After all the positive messages upon his arrival, it the worst possible start for the club’s new signing.
Hutchinson’s debut season at the club was blighted by inconsistency and injuries meaning he would only play 22 matches.
But after a nightmare first half of the season for him personally and for the club after a slow start – something clicked.
He got his first goal for the club in the win over Shrewsbury in the April before putting on some solid defensive performances having commanded a place back in the side.
Hutchinson’s most telling contribution was in added time on the final day of the season.
The Lions were level 3-3 away at Bristol Rovers knowing a win would take them into the play-offs.
The defender rose to head home the winner to secure and a place in the top-six for Millwall at Southend United’s expense.
That would be the tipping point, and the Lions would come through a tough test against Scunthorpe United to make it a second successive Wembley visit.
This time they would win and secure promotion back to the Championship with Hutchinson a resolute performer in the second half of the campaign to sure up the Lions’ rearguard highlighting his importance with his final performance.
In his second season at the club, Hutchinson was showing why he was brought in was proving a more than adequate replacement for Beevers who had left the year before.
Hutchinson was named the club’s vice-vice-captain behind Steve Morison and played 48 times for Millwall in the Championship after seemingly seeing off his injury troubles from the year prior.
On December 1, 2017, Hutchinson signed a new long-term deal with the club, commenting his future to Harris and his teammates.
— Millwall FC (@MillwallFC) December 1, 2017
The deal was agreed with much delight from the club’s supporters.
Brilliant news. Well done Shaun. Great to have you at the Den. Hope you stay for years to come.
— Eamonn Pearson (@eamonnpearson) December 1, 2017
Great news, proper player!
— Tommy Ward (@TommyWa75726279) December 1, 2017
Different gear this year! Great news ????????
— Peter Millington Lee (@PeterLee155) December 1, 2017
Thank God! Quality defender,really don't wanna lose him
— scott (@bushwacker1984) December 1, 2017
Hutchinson would play a vital role in the Lions narrowing missing out on a play-off place to earn a spot in the Premier League with the club finishing eighth last term – just three points off the top-six.
He was named the club’s Player of the Year of his virtuoso defensive displays, scoring twice that year.
This campaign, however, has not gone as well thus far with the defender having missed the last eight matches with a knee injury but is set for a return after the international break.
The initial response was favourable, but the Millwall supporters could not have fathomed how vital Hutchinson would become during his two-years with the club.