12 March 2011

Andy Millar

from Andy's Facebook
Maybe it's a sign of the times, but I first got a hint that something was wrong through Facebook.  Then the tributes started rolling in, then the confirmation by e-mail.  Andy died on Friday night, 4th March 2011 and by early Saturday morning many of his Rugby friends knew the shocking news. 

He and Celia pitched up one Saturday afternoon (spring of 1984?)  at Petersfield and said they were planning to move to the area from Milton Keynes, and were looking for a friendly Rugby Club that offered Mini Rugby.  We didn't, but I told Andy that we were looking for someone to organise it.  Sure enough, they did move to Petersfield, and instantly got involved.  Andy played prop for the third XV, absolutely solid and the foundation of a tight-knit unit that included the colonel and me in the second row.  And the promise was honoured: he got the Mini and Junior section of the Club up and running.  It quickly became a huge success, with hundreds of boys and girls taking part in Rugby on Sunday mornings at Penn's Place.  Something soon became clear and has become increasingly important over the years: the parents of Mini and Junior players, with their greater life experience, were often much better organisers than the players, who formed the majority of the Club Committee at the time (I was Hon. Sec).  Many parents have gone on to help in the overall administration of the Club, which has made a huge contribution to its development over the years.

from Andy's Facebook

When the roof of the old Clubhouse was blown off in the Great Storm of 1987, Andy was one of the members of the Clubhouse Organising Committee (CHOC).  He insisted on the construction of the balcony for the new Clubhouse which opened in 1990.  He's pictured right as he could often be seen, offering advice to players and referees.

Andy made another huge contribution as match reporter and author of match programmes.  He made sure that the local press was supplied with high quality reports during the season, and even a trickle of stories during the summer months to keep the Club in the public eye.  When he didn't have the team list from the opposition, sometimes he'd substitute one based on his wide knowledge and wit.  I was delighted to see that Tostig, Godwin and Sweyn were still playing for Winchester.  A few years ago he was rumbled by a former sport sub-editor of the Petersfield Post - when 'Field played Old Paulines, he got a bollocking for Philip and Felix.  Eric Bloodaxe was pushing things a bit far too, and one week I only found through the Hazy Herald that Al Eric, Hunery and Geiser were representing Weybridge Vandals.   But normal service was soon resumed.  About a year ago he excelled himself, with Black, Gang, Chine, Ryde, Pier and Neadle all playing their part for Sandown and Shanklin. 

We'll all miss him, his humour and the passion for the game that he loved.  All our sympathy and thoughts are with Celia and their boys, Alasdair, Iain and Jimmy.

{Update 16/03/2011] Andy's funeral was at St Lawrence's Church, Petersfield, on Wednesday 16th March.  A tremendous number showed up to say goodbye to the big man, family, team mates, friends from far and near; I counted ten referees as well as friends from many other Hampshire Rugby clubs.  Stuart Barden gave a great tribute and the music included two of the great Rugby hymns: Bread of Heaven and Jerusalem.   The wake, back at the Rugby Club, was one of those meetings of old friends that unfortunately is only brought about by the saddest of events.  But it was one you'd be sorry to have missed.

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