Tuesday 26 January 2021

James (Jake) Kinghorn Millar, 1935-2021

It was with great sadness that we learnt of the death of Jake Millar on Monday 11th January, a fine man, player, past captain, and life-long supporter of the Club. He was 85.

Jake was a very bright mathematician, and on leaving Edinburgh Academy, he won a scholarship to Caius College, Cambridge, where he read mathematics. He was unlucky to be at Cambridge at the same time as two international second row forwards, one being David Marques of England (and later the Lions) and did not get a blue which he would have walked at any other time. His good friend and Accies legend, Tommy McClung, was at Cambridge at the same time and was the star of the team. Off the pitch, Jake very much enjoyed undergraduate life and became something of a celebrity in Cambridge social circles! One infamous incident was retold to Jake’s brother-in-law, John Douglas, by the late, great, Arthur Smith. He had witnessed Jake at the May Ball catching the barman in the act of watering down the drinks. Later, Jake ‘bought’ (without paying obviously) all his friends numerous drinks along with many ‘large ones’ for himself. In the early hours, Jake found a suitable ‘bed’ beside the main road back to his college. A priest on a bike slowed down to look at Jake, whereupon Jake woke up and pursued the priest and shook him off his bike with the profound words "Some bloomin Samaritan you!"

On his return to Edinburgh, Jake became a stalwart of the Accies team of the 1950s/60s, when the Club enjoyed a remarkable period of success, playing alongside other Accies' greats such as Brian Neill, Stan Coughtrie, Keith Paterson-Brown, Mike Marwick and the McClung brothers.

It was said of Jake that he was ‘a good person to know and have on your side’ and he made a formidable partnership alongside his friend, David Marshall, in the team’s ‘boiler house’. Indeed, both players went on to represent Edinburgh on many occasions, in the days when the Edinburgh side had at least 5 or 6 Accies in it. David Marshall was perhaps one of the unluckiest players never to get a cap for Scotland, having played in several national trials. Jake went on to captain the Club with distinction in season 1962-63, passing the baton on to the great Brian Neill, who then passed it on to Jake’s younger brother, Ian, who captained the side in seasons 1964-65 and 1967-68 – quite a family affair!

Accies 1st XV, Centenary Season 1957-58

JB Neill, RJ Marshall, G McClung, S Coughtrie, JK Millar, MTR Marwick, MJ Sands, JDL Fairburn.

DJ Marshall, JA Simson, T McClung, JH Marshall (Captain), JC Walker, AF Gardiner, KW Paterson-Brown.

DD Walker, TLB Adam.

Centenary Match – 6th Oct 1957 - Academicals vs. International XV

JK Millar standing back row far right.

Jake was a remarkable character with a terrific sense of humor who had a great love of trains. Indeed, legend has it that on one occasion, returning from Fife after playing North & Midlands, he climbed outside the train to get a better view over the Firth of Forth from the rail bridge. No one had told him that he was on the same side as the trains coming in the opposite direction, but thankfully, he survived to tell the tale!

An accomplished golfer, Jake played off a single handicap in his younger days and was an honorary member of The Bruntsfield Links Golfing Society, having been a member for a remarkable 62 years. He was also a very popular member of Luffness New Golf Club.

On hearing of Jake’s passing, a great friend and teammate of Jake’s summed the man up well, saying, ‘Jake, although having a markedly mischievous streak in his nature at times, was a most sincere and generous friend to have and will be sorely missed by all his family and friends.’ No higher praise for a great man.

Our thoughts and condolences are with Jake’s many friends and family, especially his children, Jake Jnr, Jane and Debbie, and his grandchildren, Cameron, Mack, Calder, Amy and Jemma, at this sad time.

Under the current restrictions the funeral was a private gathering for family only, but they plan to hold a remembrance celebration when covid restrictions allow.


From the Archive