Obituary: former Bellshill Athletic stalwart George Mills

George Mills (first right) was a linesman at a World Cup qualifier between Holland and Romania in Amsterdam in December 1970. The match was refereed by Tiny Wharton and the other linesman was John Dearie
George Mills (first right) was a linesman at a World Cup qualifier between Holland and Romania in Amsterdam in December 1970. The match was refereed by Tiny Wharton and the other linesman was John Dearie

We were sad to hear of the death of football stalwart George Mills, who wrote Bellshill Athletic reports for this paper for a decade.

George’s eventful life story included the night he was a linesman at an international friendly between Holland and Romania in Amsterdam back in December 1970.

A more recent picture of George Mills

A more recent picture of George Mills

Dutch legend Johan Cruyff scored both goals in a 2-0 Holland victory, in a game watched by 52,000 fans and refereed by legendary Scottish official Tom ‘Tiny’ Wharton. The other linesman was fellow Scot John Dearie.

George’s son Leigh told the Times and Speaker: “Readers might not be aware of the fact that my dad was once a professional referee, but the highlight of his time officiating was running the line at that game in Amsterdam.

“That was his biggest ever match. I know that my dad and John were treated first class when they went out to Holland. They were both put up in a five star hotel and had a concierge running after them.

“During the trip Johan Cruyff was opening a sports shop and Tiny Wharton was cutting the ribbon.

“Johan ended up giving my dad, Tiny and John free tracksuits and trainers.

“So you could say that my dad scammed Johan Cruyff!”

George, who died aged 78 on June 26 after a long battle against prostate cancer, was still writing reports for this newspaper in February 2017.

The correspondent, who is survived by his wife May, was laid to rest at Daldowie Crematorium on July 4.

In recognition of the fact that George (also pictured latterly, inset) had supported his beloved Bellshill Athletic since he was a tiny boy, a tammy his gran had knitted him in 1949 – adorned with ‘Up the ’Hill’ – accompanied him in his coffin.

Yet Bellshill wasn’t where it all started for George as he was born on January 23, 1939 in the Northamptonshire town of Corby, some 313 miles to the south.

George and his parents moved to Viewpark, where he spent his youth and from where he was taken to watch Bellshill matches.

George went on to become a trailer sales rep for York Trailers and he was a professional footballer with several teams including Blantyre Vics and Lincoln City. He later refereed in the professional Scottish leagues.

After George married May in 1976, the couple lived in Cypress Avenue, Bellshill, for many years.

George, who was good friends with Celtic legends Billy McNeill and Jimmy Johnstone, rated Rangers great Jim Baxter as the best footballer he ever saw.

He served the Bellshill Athletic committee in several roles over many years and was also president of the supporters club.