BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
LEE MILLER insists claiming promotion with Falkirk would be the crowning moment of his career as he urged supporters to recapture the spirit of Brockville against Dundee United.
The veteran striker has claimed one “bittersweet” league title with the Bairns, firing them to the old First Division crown in 2002/03, only for the SPL board to deny their request to ground-share with Airdrie in the following campaign and rob them of promotion.
Miller, who turned 34 yesterday, departed during that galling close-season to embark on a fine career which would see him star for the likes of Bristol City, Middlesbrough and Aberdeen, winning three caps for Scotland along the way.
However, the fact he never got a crack at the top-flight with his beloved Bairns remains an itch he is desperate to scratch.
After rejoining the club last summer, the towering striker was part of a Falkirk side that fell at the final hurdle, capitulating at Rugby Park in the Premiership playoff final; their 1-0 aggregate lead after the first leg becoming a 4-1 deficit in the space of 90 miserable minutes.
So he is a man on a mission as they seek to finish the job against Dundee United and get another crack at the top-flight against either Inverness or Hamilton.
“It would be one of the crowning moments of my career to go up with Falkirk, 100 per cent,” said a determined Miller.
“I still remember that disappointment when I was a young kid. We won the league at a canter and then weren’t able to go up. It was bittersweet and I had to move on soon after. It was devastating at the time, so it would be up with my best moments in football to get promotion this time.
“I hope it’s the season it all comes together. We’ve a tremendous squad with so much experience and game-changers. We lacked that strength in depth last season and injuries caught up on us but, 12 months on, we are fresh and raring to go.
“If we can make that final push it would be the icing on the cake.”
A social media throwback this week allowed him to bask in the glory of last season’s playoff semi-final victory against Hibs – Bob McHugh pouncing to secure a dramatic win – on a night when the Falkirk Stadium finally started to feel like home for the Bairns.
Miller, a regular as a fan then a player at the iconic Brockville, is counting on another electric atmosphere at the Westfield, with a sell-out expected under the Friday night lights.
“I honestly can’t wait,” smiled Miller. “In the games last season the atmosphere dragged us on to beat Hibs and Kilmarnock at home.
“I was here in the Brockville days, and last year was like Brockville. I actually watched a video of the Hibs game the other night on social media and I had goosebumps. I might actually watch it again before Friday night!
“It was a fantastic result and performance and the atmosphere was frightening. You need to enjoy those moments and hopefully it’s another great night on Friday.”
Common sense would dictate Falkirk are in the driving seat following a breathless 2-2 draw at Tannadice on Tuesday, given the Bairns have defeated their Tayside rivals twice at home this season with an aggregate of 6-1.
And Miller, who is well placed to make judgement after spending the 2005/06 campaign with United, has dismissed the notion that United are better equipped for a return to the top-flight.
“We have been dominant in the United games here but the play-offs are different,” added Miller. “They won’t be worrying about that. If it is an advantage, we will take it but the main thing is we’re recovered and ready to go.
“A lot of people are saying ‘we want Dundee United back in the top flight’, but we’ve got everything here.
“We’ve got the fanbase to back it up. Falkirk are a big club too. All the facilities are here. We’ve got the fans, the stadium, the training facilities, a new gym – everything is structured towards Falkirk being a Premiership club.”