William "Willie" Mills was one of the few footballing talents in comparison with the game's earlier days to emerge from the Vale of Leven between the wars. Born in 1915 he was eighth of nine children of another family that had come into the Vale from Highland Stirlingshire. An elder brother, Hugh, nicknamed Bunty, would also be a professional footballer with West Ham but without the same success. They were the sons of a mason, who would die in Balloch, and be buried in Vale of Leven Cemetery. But Willie, whilst he would be born in Bonhill would end his days in Aberdeen, the club he would join as an inside-forward and something of a prodigy from junior football, aged just seventeen. In fact he was a player, who might have gone on to greater things but for the interruption of his prime years by the Second World War.
With the original Vale of Leven F.C in 1924 only playing in the soon to be discontinued Scottish Division Three with dissolution following in 1929 both Hugh and Willie Mills began their junior footballing careers at Bridgeton Waverley in the East End of Glasgow. Whether the whole family had moved to the city is unclear but, since his father had been employed by the North British Railway, there is every chance that it had. Nor is it therefore clear where Willie learnt his football, on the streets of Bonhill perhaps but again more likely those of Glasgow.
Willie Mills would spend five seasons at Aberdeen, playing almost two hundred league games at over a goal every two games. He was in the Dons team that lost the Scottish Cup Final in 1937. Meantime, in 1935 and 1936 he would win three caps and in 1937 he married Margaret Reid Low in Aberdeen. They were to have one daughter, born that year. Then in early 1938 Huddersfield Town came in with a substantial fee and, still only twenty-three he moved south. However, in what remained of the season, he played just one game and was not in The Terriers' team that lost the 1938 Cup Final. It was only the following season that he made a contribution with twenty-six appearances and seven goals before league football was suspended for the duration of the war and he came north once more.
During the war itself Willie served as an army fitness instructor first in Perth, playing a few guest-matches then in Germany. Then after the hostilities he would return to football and Huddersfield but was released in 1947. Again he came immediately north, eventually becoming player-manager of both Lossiemouth and Huntly. In 1950 he coached on Malta before managing again, in the Highland League once more, at Keith and at Huntly for a second time before simply returning to coach more generally, whilst settling in Aberdeen and working as a Machine Operator.
Willie Mills would pass away in 1990 at the age of seventy-five in hospital in Aberdeen, having outlived his wife by three years and sadly his daughter by five.
1990 - N/A
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