Former Millwall keeper says he has no bitterness over testimonial despite almost decade’s service

FORMER Millwall goalkeeper David Forde says he has no bitterness over not getting a testimonial after almost a decade at the club.

Forde, 41, signed for the Lions on a free transfer from Cardiff City in the summer of 2008 and had eight full seasons at The Den before leaving for Portsmouth on loan in 2016.

He returned to Millwall after being an ever-present to help Pompey win the League Two title, but was released by his former team-mate Neil Harris in the summer of 2017, nine years and 339 appearances after joining.

Jimmy Abdou signed for Millwall from Plymouth in the same summer as Forde and left a year later – after a season’s loan at AFC Wimbledon – after 342 appearances. Abdou had his testimonial in 2018.

Forde was asked recently on Millwall’s podcast, Wall Talk, if he was “gutted” not to be given a traditional send-off.

“I wouldn’t say I was gutted because the nine years I had here was a phenomenal adventure and a serious journey,” Forde said, in response to a fan’s question via Twitter.

“You could look at it and get bitter but one of my mottos and a philosophy I operate by is, ‘you either do bitter or you get better’.

“For me, you could look at it in the sense as that can finalise a relationship and a journey. So it’s still open.

“How I view that is there could still be chapters to be written. Lets’ see, who knows? Let nature decide.

“If I were to play a team, who would that be? An Irish select team would be nice. Or as a Liverpool fan it would have been amazing to play Liverpool.”

Forde played in two League One play-off finals, winning the second 1-0 against Swindon in 2010.

He featured prominently in Michael Calvin’s book Family: Life, Death and Football: a Year on the Frontline with a Proper Club.

Calvin called Millwall’s core group of senior players the ‘Guvnors’ and Forde explained the life and professional lessons he learned in his time at the club.

Forde co-founded Pathfinder Coaching and Development, a company which provides mentoring services in the sports and corporate sectors.

“In all the teams in all the years it was a very special time and a very unique time,” Forde said about that era when he played with Harris and the likes of Paul Robinson and Alan Dunne. “Players go through their whole careers wandering from club to club so to have that type of experience and to come into that space, I bought into it wholeheartedly.

“I always felt there was something there [bringing him] towards Millwall. So when I came we had that going, as [Calvin] says, the ‘Guvnors’, we were really tight-knit, like a band of brothers.

“We’d always say things but it wouldn’t be taken personally. We’d take it on board and talk about it afterwards, whether it was right, wrong or indifferent.

“We had a dream and an ambition to get promoted and we did that.

Iconic image of David Forde and Lions owner John Berylson after Millwall stayed up on the last day in 2013-14

“It taught me huge lessons about team dynamics and leadership. You see it with the likes of the All Blacks and different super teams that have performed well down through the years. It’s all managed within the group with the support coming externally, say from a manager.

“We had that right: ‘These are the non-negotiables’. And if you break these down it’s not just the manager of the club it’s the core group that are going to manage that.

“It made it easier at that time because you had people with the same intentions and ambitions, that wanted to get ahead and achieve. And they’re coming with a history and a heritage behind them with the likes of Neil Harris, Paul Robinson, Alan Dunne. Gary Alexander is a Millwall fan.

“So they knew what the club was about, they knew what the culture and heritage was about. That was massive, to instil that.

“I think over the years where I struggled with Millwall teams was losing people in that space. Steve Morison bought into it, Tony Craig another one as well. Jimmy Abdou bought into it.

“These were all massive influencers within a high-performance environment. It was massive for that.

“That’s where clubs that want to evolve and increase the so-called better players, it doesn’t mean they are better people.

“It’s whether you want better players or better people. I’d rather have better people all day long.”

Image: Millwall FC 

John Kelly