Mrs McMillan with the Callan McMillan Memorial Shield.
Mrs McMillan with the Callan McMillan Memorial Shield.

Grand lady presents shield

Many supporters of football in this area will be familiar with the Callan McMillan Memorial Shield competition, however few will be aware of it’s origins and significance.

A chance meeting recently with a very spritely Mrs McMillan had me captivated by her very stirring story, delivered with a distinctive Scottish accent.

Like many personal tales, the evidence of emotion has not abated even after 30 years when a tragic event took the life of a young man and left an indelible mark on his family and those who knew him.

Back in 1972, a young lad by the name of Callan McMillan Junior decided to leave the beautiful area of Eyr in Scotland (made famous by poet Robert Burns) to venture across the seas to Perth. He had, coincidently, been born in Perth, Scotland, and would soon find his way to Lismore where he would meet the love of his life, Janelle, and soon marry.

Perhaps influenced by hearing wonderful things about Australia, his parents decided to emigrate and with Mrs McMillan having a brother who was an electrician in Dunoon, Callans senior and his wife found themselves in Lismore.

Life was very different in northern NSW, contrasting with the last 27 years in which Mr McMillan had worked as a fisherman. Showing the typical grit and tenacity of the Scots, Callan McMillan Senior approached the head nursing sister at Lismore Base Hospital hoping that his experience in the Army Medical Corp would help. Despite no position available, she offered him a job, where he worked for many years.

Football was never far from the McMillan family and these avid Scottish Rangers supporters found an involvement with the game locally, with the men coaching and Janelle a keen player. Each was to become part of the inaugural Far North Coast Amateur Soccer Association Committee in 1977, the same year that a most awful incident occurred.

Just before Christmas in 1977, Callan McMillan Junior drowned when trying to save a young girl. The football community rallied to support the family and in 1978, the Callan McMillan Memorial Shield was struck to commemorate one of the pioneers of sport locally.

Women’s teams from far and wide competed for the Shield and when the women’s association amalgamated with Lismore District Association in 1996 the decision was made to incorporate the Shield to coincide with the Men’s Anzac Cup competition.

Listening to this grand old lady speaking of her son, her husband and her family adds even more context to a trophy that rightly holds much significance in local football.

It will be my great privilege to invite Mrs McMillan to present the 2011 Callan McMillan Shield on Anzac Day as we all reflect on a day that gives us much to remember.


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