Motherwell Football Club is saddened to learn of the death of former defender Peter Millar.
Peter was a local lad, hailing from Wishaw, and was a Motherwell fan in his youth who eventually lined up for his boyhood heroes.
He started his senior career with Arbroath before making a £12,000 move to Dunfermline.
He was a regular for the East End Park side and even managed to score from the spot for the Pars at Fir Park in 4-1 win during season 1971/72. This must have been enough to impress the then Motherwell boss Bobby Howitt, who snapped him up in the summer of 1972.
It was thought he could add depth to playing squad, capable as he was of playing in both a defensive role as well as in midfield. In time he went on to establish himself in the starting eleven as a tough tackling midfielder alongside guys like Stewart McLaren, Willie Watson and Gregor Stevens.
This was a quartet who had a reputation, as the old saying goes, for “kicking their granny” to get to the ball. It was this tough tackling that built a platform for the ball players like Vic Davidson and Peter Marinello.
Millar was the man that the managers he played under, Howitt, Ian St. John and Willie McLean, would ask to stop the opposition’s best player from performing, including the likes of Kenny Dalglish at Celtic who suffered many a bruising encounter with the physical Millar.
He played a major role in the 1970s side as helped them qualify for the first ever season of the Premier League and reached two Scottish Cup Semi Finals. It was a side that promised so much but, unfortunately, in the end never actually delivered a big prize. Sadly the two semi-finals, against Rangers and Airdrie, ended in controversial defeats that are still talked about to this day.
His performances in Claret and Amber were rewarded with one appearance for his country, at Scottish League level in 1974, when he lined up against the English Football League. Sadly the result was a five-nil defeat for the Scots, with Denis Tueart, Trevor Brooking, Stan Bowles and Colin Bell scoring for England.
Teammate Peter Marinello also had memories of his teammate, which he detailed in his autobiography: “Peter ‘Doomie’ Millar was a good strong player but a born pessimist. He would have been brilliant in Dads Army as Private Fraser, the character who rushed around proclaiming, ‘Doomed, we’re all doomed.’”
With the club lurching towards relegation under the leadership of Ally McLeod at the end of the 1978/79 season, Millar was allowed to move on and join newly promoted Dundee with teammate Stewart McLaren. He played 238 games at Fir Park, scoring 22 goals.
He also had a short spell in the United States before returning to Scotland to take up a career in the Civil Service. He was also involved in the clubs’ Youth Development programme for a spell, working as a coach alongside current Academy Director Gordon Young.
A club spokesperson said: “Everyone at Motherwell FC is deeply saddened to learn of Peter’s death. He had been struggling with illness of late but his passing has still come as a bit of a shock to the system, being just 62.
“For ‘Well fans of a certain vintage, Peter played a big part in what is considered an exciting and entertaining period for the football club during the 1970s.
“He was renowned for being a committed, hard-working, tough-tackling defender who could also play football.
“He also played a part with the club after his retirement from the game; working alongside current Academy Director Gordon Young with the clubs’ pro-youths, directly coaching players like Mark Reynolds during his spell.
“He will be sadly missed by all and the deepest condolences of everyone at Fir Park are with his wife Jean, his children Nicola, Barry and Peter and the rest of his family and friends.”
Words: Graham Barnstaple