‘MILLIE…MILLIE MILLIE…MILLIE MILLIE…MILLIE MILLIE FARROW!’ The song broke out among the loyal; those of us gathered on the terrace behind the goal, the stand always awash with colour from our ever-growing assembly of flags. We had just witnessed Millie take the ball round the Charlton keeper and then slot it past four defenders on the goal line to put us 3-1 up, and quite frankly we had gone crazy! Prior to this season, frantic celebrations had at times been few and far between, especially at Hayes Lane, while this season they had started to become a more regular occurrence. Standing there, watching the game get back underway, I knew that I was watching something special; a team that was pushing its limits and learning how to sore like Eagles, and looking damn good at doing it in the process.
As the echoes of the chant drifted off into the cold afternoon air, chatter among us turned to how Millie had really come into her own in the last few weeks, showing us the gem of a signing that we had managed to make from Leicester back in the summer. Her drive and determination were shining through on the pitch before our very eyes and had seen her net three times in the last two games. But as the euphoria of that moment celebrating the goal began to ease, it was Millie’s passion in the celebration that had also caught the eye. She looked Palace through and through, something that would not be unusual, given that manager Dean Davenport has been Palace all his life, and other players have become fans once joining the team. Would Millie be the same, did we have a fellow Eagle in the mix, or does Millie’s support lay elsewhere?
“My family live near Portsmouth so I have always been a Portsmouth fan. My Dad and I used to have season tickets when I was younger. That’s my home team but since I joined the Chelsea academy at a young age, I have always had a soft spot for them and have also supported them since.”
So that would be a no! But it doesn’t matter, because it is clear that Millie has passion when she is out on that pitch, and we always welcome that when a player wears the red and blue. That passion is spread throughout the team and was on display in this very match. While Charlton pulled one back late, we had been the better team and saw it out to win 3-2, our very first ever victory over Charlton at this level. As appreciation was shared between players and fans through applause, the celebration wasn’t quite over, as well got to be a part of Millie’s Instagram video. It was an afternoon in which a new bond blossomed, and we were getting to see just what Millie could do out on that pitch. When she first signed however, as fans we were not aware of how lucky we had been, because lack of media coverage deprives us of so much information. All we knew was that Millie had been part of the Leicester team that had stormed to promotion the previous season.
As part of the CPFCW Loyal, I had been able to organise our sponsorship of a player for the season, and that player was Millie. So, as I drove home from the game, a spring in the step after a big win, I found myself wanting to know more about our new striker. The Foxes may have been her previous destination, but where did her days on a football pitch truly begin?
“I was a hectic child, always running around and being crazy. When I was 10, I had the chance to go and train with my cousins boys’ team, and I snapped it up in a heartbeat. Soon after, my Auntie saw an ad in the local newspaper for a girls’ team starting up. I went down to train one Friday night and the rest is history. Football became a huge part of my life as I grew up and I have been attached to it ever since.”
Millie is right when she says that she has been attached to football ever since. With so many strides still to be made in the women’s game, it can’t have been easy for players to have found their way to progress through their early years, given the lack of pathways for young girls within the game. Yet find her way Millie did, as she joined the Hampshire Centre For Excellence. So just how did that placement come about, and how did Millie feel it benefited the early days of her career?
“After my time with my childhood club I was scouted to play for Portsmouth Ladies. Later down the line I was scouted again for the centre of excellence. I spent all of 5 seasons there I think and worked my way through the age groups. I just loved playing Football. I would get so excited for training, when a session was done, I would be counting down the time till the next one. I think it benefitted me playing there at a young age. It gave me a sense of success at an early age and motivated me to want to get to the next level.”
That next level Millie speaks of, would turn out to be WSL side Chelsea. In the 2014/15 season, she would make her debut for the blues at the age of 18. It was her only appearance in a season that would see Chelsea finish 2nd in the league. So, what was it like moving to such a prestigious club?
“I joined Chelsea Academy in 2011 I believe. We had a brilliant team, quite a few of us made it pro actually and still play at a high level today. That first season I was there we made it to the FA Youth Cup final and played the game at Milton Keynes stadium but unfortunately, I tore my ACL in the second half. I was only 15 and I was out the game for a year. Thankfully Chelsea saw something in me and wanted to keep me on once I had recovered, I then found myself in Chelsea reserves. That then lead to being more involved in the first team and gaining plenty of experience.”
The following 2015/16 season would see Millie make another two appearances for the Chelsea first team, one of which was against Bristol City, a game that saw her score her first senior goal. So, what was it like, as a striker, to get the first senior goal under her belt?
“I remember this day very well. I was absolutely over the moon to have scored that goal. It really makes all the hard work feel worth it when the ball hits the back of the net. It was Katie Chapman that assisted my first goal, if you don’t know who she is, do your research. She had a brilliant football career winning all sorts of trophies and medals. That was the beauty of being involved in such a set up. The talent and top players you got to work with day in day out.”
Chelsea would end up as WSL Champions that season, and while Millie may not have played much, as she had already mentioned, she was getting to work with some of the game’s top players every day. So, just how much did she think she learned from that winning mentality?
“Being in and around world class players is honestly eye opening. The amount you learn from them is priceless. Not only on the pitch but off the pitch too. It was a really good opportunity for me to experience this at such a young age and take that into the rest of my career. Seeing them and being around them gave me that extra motivation to want to push on and achieve my goals.”
The opportunity to put all that she had learned into practice came in 2016, via a loan move to Bristol City. The Robins were in WSL2(now the Championship), and so it meant the chance to play first team football at a high level, just what Millie would have been craving. Millie would make sixteen appearances that season, scoring eleven times as Bristol finished 2nd, gaining promotion to the WSL. How did Millie find it, getting her first real chance of first team football at senior level?
“This season was very enjoyable for me. It was my first proper taste of full-time football and being a key player in the goal of gaining promotion. The team was amazing and one I will always remember and cherish. I moved away from home (at 19) when I signed the loan deal and I learnt so much about myself that season. Lots of lessons and again experience gained.”
That season has been Millie’s most prolific to date, although from the way she plays, I believe it is only a matter of time before she surpasses it. But what was it about that season, that saw things click so well for Millie in front of goal?
“The game was different back then. The league is highly competitive these days and the level has increased significantly which is exciting to see. Which also means every chance a striker gets is almost more critical than it has ever been. I have been through a lot on and off the pitch since the Bristol days. I think for me now, it is all about learning and bettering myself to reach the potential I know I can.”
Injury would strike to interrupt Millie’s progress after such a successful season, but she would return to Bristol on a permanent move in January 2018. However, by the end of the season, Millie had moved on to Reading. So, what actually happened during that time, after such a positive start?
“After my first season at Bristol I made the decision to return again on loan for the spring series but unfortunately in a friendly 2 weeks before the spring series started, I tore my other ACL which meant I would return to Chelsea for surgery and to recover. I then left Chelsea and joined Bristol in the winter transfer window to play for the last 5 months of the season after my ACL injury.
The season finished and I signed a 2 year deal at Reading which was a really exciting move for me. However, soon into pre-season I had to go for a scan due to pain in my back. We then discovered I had a stress fracture which had me back on the side lines for most of that season.”
Millie would stay at Reading for two years, scoring twice in fourteen appearances, the low number of appearances explained by that initial injury after joining. Despite the injury setback, how did she find her time there?
“I learnt so much in my time at Reading. It was a period where I received a lot of coaching and could feel myself improving as a player. It was a very talented squad, and the competition was high. Training with the likes of Fara Williams everyday was special. Unfortunately, in the second year of my deal the season was interrupted by covid so we didn’t ever get to see out the end of that season.”
Millie left Reading and the WSL in the summer of 2020, while some 100 miles up the road, Championship side Leicester had just turned professional with the aim of being able to push up into the top tier. It would seem from an outside perspective, that timing here was perfect. Millie made the move to Leicester, meaning she would gain a full time club with aspirations to get to the WSL, while Leicester were gaining a WSL quality striker with plenty of experience. That season would see the Foxes thrive, storming the league and ending up as deserving winners. Millie would feature seventeen times, finding the back of the net four times. But as the Foxes moved up into the WSL, Millie would end up staying in the Championship.
Last summer, as Leicester reshuffled their pack to prepare for the step up, down south at Hayes Lane, Dean Davenport was doing a little restructuring of his own. Having kept the core of the team that had broken personal club records in 20/21, the aim was to bring in quality to add to what we already had. One of those additions would turn out to be Millie, and in a season where the club has broken even more personal records, we have already seen that Leicester’s loss has been our gain. But what made Millie choose Palace, and how did she find the adjustment from a full time club to a part time club?
“With all the time I have missed because of injury at this point in my career all I really cared about is playing. I just wanted to play and be happy. I saw Palace as an opportunity for me to do this. I have had many difficult years in the game, so I felt a fresh start was needed. It was quite challenging to adjust to at first but if you saw what some of the girls do here you would be amazed. Working full time in the day and then trekking into training to complete their second full time job at night. It has been quite inspiring for me to see how much hard work and dedication the girls give. I think that’s why we have such a good group. Everyone understands each other’s situation and we have a lot of respect for one and other and that has shown in some of the results and performances we have had out this season.”
The closeness of the team has certainly been something that has not only been obvious to see, but spoken of by so many who are lucky enough to be a part of it. With so many teams full time this year, it would have been easy for Palace to step backwards in the table, but the drive within Davenport, his staff and the players has always been to progress year on year, and that is something the club has most certainly done. With a new record high points total already registered, a guarantee that the lowest we can finish is 7th(our highest finish to date), with a great chance of top four in our own hands, it has been a season to remember for Palace. Millie has played a big part of that, making nineteen appearances in all competitions, scoring five times(all in the league). So how does Millie feel her first season has gone personally?
“It has been a positive season for me. The environment that has been created by players and staff is something that some clubs take years to build. It makes it very enjoyable to be around. Personally, I would have liked to have scored more goals but I feel I have shown I am more than capable of being a goal scorer and helping my team in whatever way I possibly can. I think ultimately the fact that we have the chance to finish third in the table shows how far Palace has come. We have been building on certain things all year and we have all worked so hard to make this happen. It is fully deserved and shows that the club is moving in the right direction.”
Millie has enjoyed success at previous clubs, and while promotion was never on the cards for Palace this season, as mentioned, we have been enjoying our best ever season at this level. So, how has this year compared to Millie’s previous experiences?
“Success doesn’t only come on the pitch. I have been able to focus on myself in other ways this season and that’s been important for me, to understand and recognise what other aspects contribute towards being able to perform your best at the weekend. There is always a bigger picture and things take time. All in all, it has been a great season and I look forward to what the future brings.”
While speaking of what the future brings, I have to take a shot and ask the question we all want to know the answer to…could we see Millie in the red and blue again next season?
“All I can say is, this season for me has been very memorable. I have been looked after and I feel I have changed as a player for the better. I can’t comment on the future as the season hasn’t even finished yet, cheeky!! Haha.”
Well, it was worth a try, right? Now, I started this article recapping that Charlton home game, and the moments after Millie’s second goal, the one that sent us all into raptures. The next question I had for Millie, was one on a bit of a personal level. That moment, that celebration, was my favourite moment of the season, producing my favourite photo of the season. The emotion of it was just off the scale and had me buzzing. So, I had to know, what was that moment like for her?
“I’m glad you asked this question. It was one of my favourite moments of the season as well. I really enjoy engaging with the fans and what better way to do that than celebrating a goal with you! That game was huge for the club, and it meant a lot to Dean as well. So being able to contribute to the win and scoring my second goal of the game was a moment full of emotion and I just had to run over to the fans and get them involved. Hopefully there will be more moments like this to come.”
I know I can speak for everyone when I say that we hope there are more moments like that too! It’s great to know that such a moment can mean as much to the players as it does to us, the fans. Now, as I bring this to a close, there is one other cheeky question I have to ask. With our weekly Crystal Palace Women Show Podcast now 4 months old, could we possibly have the pleasure of Millie guesting on it someday?
“I would happily get on the podcast. You give me the details and I will be there. I look forward to it.”
That is most definitely the answer I was hoping for, and that answer is the reason why this interview has taken a slightly different shape to my previous ones. For those eagle eyed of you(see what I did there), who have read my previous interviews, you may have noticed some questions were absent this time around. That is because this article is essentially part one of the interview. If you wish to know Millie’s thoughts on her time at Leicester, how her move to Palace came about, and just who is the best she has both played with and against, then keep your eyes peeled for an announcement of when you can hear Millie on our podcast, which is available on Spotify.
As for now, I want to take this moment to thank Millie for her time and answering the questions so openly, as well as all she has done for the club this season. With two games to go, she is currently joint top scorer, and not only is the achievement of overall outright top scorer still in her sights, but it is possible that she could catch Bee’s current record of eight league goals in a season. I wish her all the best in trying to achieve those in the next two games, and I will certainly be there to witness it this Sunday at home to Watford. I can heartily recommend that you all do the same, and perhaps we can all experience another of those magic moments. Altogether now…
‘MILLIE…MILLIE MILLIE…MILLIE MILLIE…MILLIE MILLIE FARROW!’
*All Photos Courtesy Of Stephen Flynn Photography*