At the risk of sounding more like an obituary than a tribute, Sunday 19th January proved to be a sad day for North West Rugby, when Paul ‘PJ’ Millea was forced to retire from the game.
PJ played for Macclesfield in our last title season 2015-16 and played a vital role, rotating the hooker position with, and even edging out, by the end of that year, Sam Moss, as first choice number 2; and also representing Cheshire that year too, before going on to play for the Club in National 1.
PJ played 41 times for Macclesfield, across the 2 seasons, before moving on to Captain Preston Grasshoppers, playing under his good friend Paul Arnold, and together they guided the Lancashire side back to Nat 2, where he led them to an impressive mid-table finish the following year.
It has been an impressive career for PJ, whose NCA record dates back to 2003 starting at Orrell, including a loan spell to Altrincham Kersal, before enjoying a 3 month spell at Preston, a further 2 and half years at Blackburn and a long stint with Stockport, prior to picking up his medal with Macc and the Northern Premier with ‘Hoppers.
The Macclesfield Title Winning Head Coach Giles Hegarty paid tribute to his former hooker by saying: “PJ is the perfect example of a ‘club man’. No matter who he has played for, he always put the team first. He set a fantastic example for not only the young players but the senior ones too, both in practice and in matches. The contribution he made in our push for promotion was huge, and I am grateful to him for the work he put in”.
On a personal note, PJ was one of the nicest people I have worked with in Rugby, in the latter stages of his career he was totally open to new methods and looked for ways to improve his game, he was also a really friendly bloke, even when we [Macclesfield] came up against Preston after he had left. I was particularly impressed by his attitude when he wasn’t playing, as much as when he was, as he would just try harder and maintain a positive demeanour around the squad.
I know I speak for everyone at the Club, past and present, when I thank ‘PJ’, ‘Paul’, ‘Millie’, ‘Peej’ or whatever other nickname you knew him by, for all his time at our club, within our great sport, and all his other clubs – we congratulate him on his wonderful career, as well as wishing him a happy playing retirement.
*Stats from Statbunker Rugby
I’m devastated he’s had to stop not on his own terms; but he can look back on a great rugby career, with lots of great . PJ has been unbelievable for me at Hoppers, on & off the field. Our scrum the last two seasons has been outstanding, and his line-outs have been excellent and like a fine wine he got better and better with age. Off the field nobody has a bad word to say about him and he will be massively missed. PJ = Great Captain, Great Player; but an even Greater Person.
Head Coach PGRUFC
So sorry to hear P.J. has had to give up the game he loved. During his time at Macclesfield he was a delight to have around the place, always put in a big shift on the pitch whether starting or coming on as an impact player. P.J. was great off the pitch too and always had plenty of time to have a beer and chat to the Alikadoos listening to what they had to say. It was a big loss when he moved up to Preston and I`m sure he`ll be missed up at Lightfoot Green as well. One of rugby`s `Good Guys`. Sincere best wishes to P.J. from all at Macclesfield.