Who was Harry Cripps?
Harry Cripps, the footballer whose cup Old Wykehamists compete for every year, was Mr Millwall. He started his career at West Ham and finished it at Charlton, but for most of the sixties and some of the seventies, ‘Arry Boy’s captaincy and fearlessness propelled the unfashionable East London club to the brink of the old division one. Between 1964 and 1967, Millwall went 59 games unbeaten at The Den
Much of this was down to Cripps, a thuggish, broad-shouldered left back, who relied on a sound positional sense to compensate for being the slowest player on the pitch. He had a tackle like a combine harvester and when he trusted himself to venture forward, he did so with a manic, ape-like roar. Cripps could also drill it, and in a career of over 400 first team appearances, he scored 40 goals.
One of these, during a table-topping clash against Southend in 1966, was a brazen piece of rule bending. Standing over a free kick five yards outside the box, Cripps instructed his teammate to make a fuss that the wall hadn’t retreated the full ten yards, and then casually chipped the ball passed a distracted keeper and into the net.
The fans at Millwall took to their limited, but never anything less than committed, rogue. “Harry, Harry, break us a leg. A yard above the knee”, was their terrace chant. After he retired, Cripps turned to coaching. He worked at Charlton, then as an assistant to his old friend Bobby Moore at Southend, and also on Bulls Drove in Winchester.