Mark Millar went from crazy to consistency to claim The Falkirk Herald’s Starshot prize for season 2011/12.
A considerable achievement then, when he still came up trumps while still paying for last term’s misdemeanours.
Millar was much improved in his second season with the Bairns - thanks, in no small part to being on the park and not sitting out games as punishment for his rash tackles.
This term was much more measured and he’s “felt much better this season, much more consistent and not as silly in my tackling,” he said.
“To be fair I went a bit crazy at times last season. We had the squad capable to win the league. We should be in the SPL now. That was the frustrating thing - but this season the boys have worked their socks off and been fantastic, it’s been a terrific season.”
Falkirk’s play has channelled through Millar - the team’s beating heart. When he had an off-day, so did the team - but that’s the way he likes it.
Millar drove the Bairns forward, gee’d up his team-mates and dragged them through games. And yes, he doled out some meaty challenges when necessary to set the tone for the youngsters around him.
“I’ve been frustrated at times this season too, but then you stand back and remember the guys are just young boys. I forget Sibbs is just 16, Jay is 18 - they’re like seasoned professionals half the time.
“But to be honest they haven’t needed much talking to during games, there’s a wealth of talent at the club. And when you do get on at them their reaction is brilliant.
“I remember when I was young and guys were on at me like I am to them, and I thought ‘Gies peace’ but they knuckle down and work harder.
“I have banter with them, but when standards slip I’m the one who gets on at them most.
“But then I stand back and think these guys are just 16 and 17 - you can’t go too crazy or be too hard on them - they’re brilliant and that’s testament to the staff and manager here who have realised they’re good enough to get their chance.”
Millar though, didn’t get his at Celtic. Forced to seek first-team football as far afield as Ujpest Dosza in Hungary, Millar eventually left his boyhood heroes and joined Steven Pressley at Falkirk two summers ago.
Last season was ignonimous beside Burton O’Brien and this term, shouldered with the responsibility of being the playmaker, he’s revelled. Alex Smith even reckons he’s good enough for Neil Lennon’s star-studded midfield just now.
“It’s hard to believe some of the boys who have been let go by the Old Firm in the last few years and they’re in the First Division.
“Michael Tidser’s at Morton, Gardyne’s at Ross County and Mikey McGovern has been excellent for us here.Big Muzza (Murray Wallace) was at Rangers a couple of years ago, next season he could be playing in the Championship. It’s crazy.
“I don’t know what the clubs and coaches are thinking but it’s benefitted us this year.
They young boys here are terrific, they get their chance and they get their chance and Muzza, Sibbs and Jay will go on to a higher level.”
The Starshot winner could too go on to a higher level. Falkirk KO’d a bid from Blackpool for his services in January and Swansea, Aston Villa and Dundee United have been credited with interest.
“There’s nothing concrete,” says Millar. “And if I have nothing to sign I have nowhere to go, but if I do it will need to be a team where they play football the right way, and I play. If not, I get frustrated and then sit out games again. I don’t want that.
“That’s the most important thing - not the money.
“Whatever happens I wish Falkirk all the best.
“To be honest they probably won’t need me next season anyway they have good players coming through - they’ll do well next term, be sure of that.”