Kelso rugby stalwart Clive Millar mourned following death at age of 58
He was one of the last pupils to attend Foulden Primary School, but it was after his move to George Watson’s College in Edinburgh that his sporting prowess began to emerge.
He played centre for the capital side’s first XV, soon earning a reputation for running with an incredibly high step and being hard to tackle.
After school, he went to agricultural college in Edinburgh, where learning was not as significant as playing for the college rugby team but where he made many lifelong friends.
He returned home after that to work on the family farm, along with his father and brothers George, Bruce and Keith, breeding pedigree Suffolk sheep and growing potatoes and cereals.
During the 1980s, he continued to play rugby for Watsonians, along with Bruce and Keith. On more than one occasion, all three played together for the firsts. Now playing on the wing, he made his debut for Edinburgh in 1985 and was selected for the Co-optimists’ tour of Zimbabwe. His playing talent was now being recognised.
He met and married Hazel Guy in 1985. Their shared love of sport brought them together and remained with them throughout their married life.
By then living at West Foulden, the couple had three children – Holly, Brogan and Cameron.
The farm diversified and Millar took on the management of its 32,000-bird poultry unit at Darnchester.
Living and working in the Borders, he switched his playing allegiance to Kelso, currently top of Tennent’s National League Division 1.
That was the beginning of a highly successful Kelso career playing back-row forward.
He was known as hard-tackling and mobile and able to lead from the front. He was rarely injured and was never seen to leave the field during a game.
Millar played for Kelso more than 160 times, helping them win the Scottish league championship in his first season, 1988/89, and the division two championship as captain in 1991/92.
He also went on to represent the South of Scotland and was a replacement for Scotland B against France in 1989.
He had a great career in XVs rugby, but for many Millar will be remembered as an outstanding sevens player for Kelso. He collected many medals, being a Melrose Sevens winner on several occasions, but the most memorable, and his favourite win, was that of 1989, when he scored two tries against Ayr in the final. He was a shining light throughout the tournament, and always a favourite with the crowd, who regarded him as a local hero.
He was also part of the Kelso team that won the Kings of the 7s in 1996, 1997 and 1998 in what was an outstanding era for rugby in the town.
His talent for sevens – speed, agility and stamina – made him much sought after and he represented the Saltires, Co-optimists and Penguins all over the world.
He retired from rugby eventually but not from sport. He swapped rugby boots for trainers and took up running, cycling and swimming.
By now, his family had started to join him in his new challenges. His first marathon, one of many, was London’s in 2001. Despite his family joining him in his running endeavours, none of them so far have been able to beat his time of three hours and 19 minutes.
He ran nine marathons, 11 half-marathons, a half-iron man and finally a punishing full iron man.
He cycled with Auchencrow Thistle, often joined in time trials by Holly and Hazel.
He loved a challenge, none more so than completing the Four Abbeys 100-mile cycle one Sunday morning before going to a fancy dress party in the afternoon.
Millar had moved into elite athlete territory. With Holly, he conquered the Marathon des Sables. A truly gruelling multi-stage event in the inhospitable Sahara Desert, the race involved seven marathons in six days, through endless sand dunes and sandstorms, with runners carrying their own survival kits on their backs. It was mentally and physically challenging, but father and daughter completed that daunting challenge. Encouragement of a sort came every morning with Millar’s rendition of his favourite song, the 1979 AC/DC single Highway to Hell.
He was also part of the Chirnside Chasers mixed-relay team that broke the world record for the Three Peaks Challenge in 2019, climbing the highest mountains in Scotland, England and Wales and also running between them. That record still stands today.
Millar played golf at Goswick, where he was also course director from 2012 to 2016. Although he was a good golfer, he admitted that it was the one sport in which consistent excellence evaded him. He was human after all.
Millar painted, played guitar, piano, sang baritone in Berwick Male Voice choir, practised yoga every morning and had a productive vegetable patch and an immaculate lawn but still found time to be a great host.
The annual summer party at Shulebraids, nearly always on the men’s finals day at Wimbledon, remains one of the highlights of the year for the Millars’ many friends.
He fought his illness with humour, determination, dignity and courage, an inspiration to all. He lived his life to the full and his achievements will always be remembered.
He is survived by Hazel, Holly, Brogan and Cameron – his family, of whom, above all else, he was immensely proud.