Petersfield RFC and the local rugby fraternity are mourning the loss of one of the game’s most colourful characters, Andy Millar, who died suddenly aged 64.
The rugby community turned out in force to pay their respects at his funeral last week, with many mourners having to stand outside the St Lawrence’s Church in the town.
‘There were over 250 people present and it was an occasion none of us will forget,’ said Petersfield committee member Chris Todd.
‘Afterwards, the funeral directors brought Andy’s coffin to the club for a final visit, and when they left he was clapped off as if he was going down the tunnel at the end of a game.
‘It was a fitting and appropriate tribute to the big man.’
Millar – a former player, coach and more recently club press officer – was a stalwart of the Penns Place outfit, making a massive contribution to the promotion of rugby after arriving in the area 27 years ago.
On his arrival, he and his wife approached the Petersfield club looking for a friendly rugby club with a mini-rugby section for their sons, only to find that the club were looking for someone to set up and run such a section.
The rest is history.
‘The club and all past-and-present players owe Andy such a huge debt,’ said chairman of the youth section Guy Chessman.
‘Not just for his scribing but for his unflinching support and just being Andy.
‘The biggest debt is that it was Andy who started the youth rugby, of which I know he was extremely proud.
‘Without his support and encouragement in the early years, we would not have our youth section which is the envy of many clubs and one we are all proud of. It was a privilege to have known him.’
The stalwart’s involvement, however, spread far beyond the youth section and in 1987, when the ‘Great Storm’ partially demolished the old Penns Place clubhouse and the decision was taken to build a new one, he was again fully involved.
‘The committee met 64 times and we would not have had a balcony, amongst other things, if it hadn’t been for Andy,’ said current club chairman Peter Caines.
Throughout his time at the club, Millar played in a number of social sides, coached youth rugby and the Hamphire Colts side of 1995-1997.
During this time all three of his sons – Alasdair, Jim and Iain – played in the youth sides.
Apart from preparing match reports for all games throughout the club, he also co-ordinated the task of compiling the club handbook, and for many years netted the advertising from local businesses that subsidised a print run of over 600 copies.
As the club developed its profile, all first-team home games were preceded by a lunch involving sponsors and visiting officials and, again, Andy increased the profile by producing an impressive programme with match details and wider rugby stories.
His contacts throughout the rugby community, both in this country and abroad, meant Petersfield Rugby Club became known to a wider community.
Andy Millar was a true rugby man and will be sadly missed.