BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale midfielder Darren Smith is desperate to tee up a historic clash against Celtic and follow in the famous footsteps of his grandfather, Rangers great Jimmy Millar.
The Ibrox icon, part of the storied ‘Millar, Brand and Wilson’ forward line of the 1960s, is a regular at Saughton Enclosure to cheer on Smith and will be hoping his grandson can see off East Kilbride Thistle tonight.
Now 81 years of age, Millar, who scored 162 goals for the Gers, will not make it to a sold-out K-Park as Smith and Co. battle for the right to face the Hoops in the fifth round.
Nevertheless, the LTHV star is determined to do his grandad proud and add another memorable chapter to a remarkable family history.
“My grandad has hundreds of scrapbooks, dating all through his career,” the former Airdrie and Berwick man told Capital City Press. “There are great pictures from the Rangers days, in particular, that people will have never seen.
“There are ones from behind the scenes at Ibrox, from European trips and with all the greats from that time. Obviously I was too young to remember Jimmy playing, but I realised what an amazing career he had when I looked through those as a young lad.
“Maybe I can get a wee cutting of my own in one of those scrapbooks.”
And there is plenty to fill those scrapbooks. Millar – who went on to manage Raith Rovers – won three league titles, five Scottish Cups and three League Cups during his 12 years in Govan, before joining Dundee United.
His total of 30 goals in the Scottish Cup is equalled only by Derek Johnstone in Rangers’ history, while he regularly displayed a knack for scoring against Celtic, striking 13 time in Old Firm clashes.
Smith will be hopeful both of those traits run in the family, should LTHV navigate their way to a money-spinning tie against the Hoops.
“I think he was known for the odd last-minute winner against Celtic and he liked a goal in the Scottish Cup,” smiled the 29-year-old. “It’s what he was famous for, so I hope some of that has rubbed off on me.
“I don’t like to talk too much about Celtic, in case it doesn’t happen, but I do know my grandad would be chuffed for me to get that opportunity.
“I work with a lot of older Rangers fans who have so much respect for him and anyone from that era have nothing but nice things to say. That is always lovely to hear.
“My grandad has always been a big supporter of my career. When I was younger he would always emphasise hard work and having the right attitude.
“Those were the things that got him to the top level, and he’d always make sure I was working on my weaknesses and give 100 per cent in anything you do.”
However, Smith is unsure how his grandad would handle the pressure of watching his grandson in action against the Hoops – after revealing Millar cuts an uncomfortable spectator.
He added: “He always used to say he was fine playing in Old Firm games, but he could never watch a game against Celtic. He always used to go for a walk!
“I think he could handle the pressure better on the pitch, rather than watching. I’m not sure if he’d watch me against Celtic!”
However, Smith acutely aware that EK Thistle will be desperate to throw a spanner in the works in what is the biggest game in the history of both of these clubs.
“We know East Kilbride will be thinking the same as us: what an opportunity,” added Smith. “Celtic is an unbelievable carrot for both sides and I think it will be a cracking game.”