Obituary: Andrew ‘Minty’ Miller, golfer, footballer and all-round sportsman, RAMC major and general practitioner

Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller
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Andrew Miller, footballer, golfer and doctor. Born: 1 December 1932, Died: 18 April 2018, aged 85

Doctor Andrew ‘Minty’ Miller who has died aged 85 managed to combine being an outstandingly successful and versatile young sportsman with qualifying to become an accomplished medical practitioner. While aged only 17 and in his final year at Marr College, Troon, he represented the Scottish Junior XI at football, won the Scottish Boys’ Golf Championship and made his debut for Rangers in a reserve match against Clyde. Later that year he reached the semi-final of the British Boys’ Championship losing to the eventual winner J Glover of Belfast.

Further honours followed in golf with his being ‘capped’ by Scotland in the Home Internationals of 1954 and 1955 and reaching the final of the Scottish Amateur Championship when he lost narrowly to Reid Jack, later British Amateur champion and a Walker Cup player. His medical studies at Glasgow University were undertaken alongside his pursuing a career in professional football while excelling as an amateur golfer.

Born Andrew Clowes Miller to Jane and John he was the fifth of six children, Isobel, Peter, Tom, Jackie, himself and Flora, now the only surviving sibling. Commonly known by his nickname of ‘Minty’, this was attributed to Flora’s being unable as a youngster to pronounce ‘Miller’ correctly.

His father worked as a marine engineer in Troon shipyard and the family was brought up mostly in the town’s Muirhead estate. A bright youngster, he was dux of Barassie Street primary school before attending Marr College where he shone at sport and academically. Aged 14 he made his debut at fullback for the school’s 1st rugby XV and was later selected for Ayrshire Schools.

He benefitted greatly from the guidance of PE teacher Hugh Brown, father of future Scotland football manager Craig, who not only encouraged his football but also his medical studies. A gifted natural sportsman, Miller began playing football for amateur team Crosshouse Waverley where his ability was spotted by junior side Annbank United who signed him as a speedy winger while a schoolboy. In 1950 he reached the sixth round of the Scottish Junior Cup with United and his eye-catching form saw him picked for the Scotland Junior XI’s international against their Northern Ireland counterparts in a 2-2 draw at Belfast.

Being brought up in Troon near the Darley golf course it was inevitable he took up the game which he did aged about ten, soon showing considerable potential. He became a member of Troon St Meddans and three months after playing football for Scotland Juniors won the Scottish Boys’ Golf Championship at North Berwick, defeating Bobby Brotherston of Dumfries 3 and 1. His success earned him popularity with his schoolmates as he won them a half day’s holiday.

Four days after the final he made his debut for Rangers reserves in a 1-1 draw against Clyde in front of 10,000 at Ibrox. Although he spent four years at Rangers playing over 30 reserve games he was unable to break through to the first team where the wingers were usually Waddell and Hubbard. After Ibrox he played a handful of games for Alloa before reverting to Annbank United.

Golf brought more rewards, being selected as reserve for Scotland in 1953 and then ‘capped’ in 1954 and ’55 against England, Ireland and Wales. He acquitted himself well, winning four of his six singles and contributing positively in the foursomes. Representing Glasgow University he won the Scottish Universities’ golf title and together with student clubmate and later R&A captain, Charles Maclaine, the Scottish foursomes championship.

In 1955 at Muirfield he became the youngest player to reach the Scottish Amateur final since the iconic Eric Brown in 1946. Having been 4 down after the first round, there was no disgrace losing 2 and 1 to Reid Jack who four years later would tie for fifth in the Open. Miller also played several times in the British Amateur, once reaching the quarter final.

On 11 July 1958 in Troon he married Kilmarnock girl Margaret McTurk, a teleprinter operator at Prestwick Airport with whom he enjoyed a long and happy marriage during which they had four children, Carolyn, Audrey, John and Gordon. Both sons were good golfers while Gordon also played football for Nottingham Forest and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

After qualifying as a doctor, Miller initially worked in pathology at Glasgow Royal Infirmary before working as a GP in a High Street surgery. He then joined the Royal Army Medical Corps and after three years based in Wiltshire, in 1967 was promoted to major and posted to Malaysia, initially to Terendak, Malacca and then to Kluang. In 1971 he and the family returned to London where he obtained a diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

After leaving the army, he was a partner in a GP practice in Nottingham before joining Boots the Chemist to promote and lecture throughout Europe on then new medication, Nurofen and Ibuprofen. After that, he returned to Nottingham to take up another GP appointment before retiring early in 1988. Living in Hucknall near Nottingham he continued playing golf recreationally at Stanton-on-the–Wolds till a few years ago and in retirement enjoyed gardening and cooking.

A highly intelligent individual with a sharp sense of humour, compassionate nature and a much loved family man, he is survived by his wife, sister, children and four grandchildren.

JACK DAVIDSON