04/03/2024

Matt Millar returns to the A-League Mens. (Photo Credit: Shrewsbury Town)

After a stint in the Scottish Premiership, Matt Millar has returned to Australia and the A-League Men’s competition signing a one-year deal with Macarthur FC. Millar sat down with The Inner Sanctum to talk about the move, pre-season, and what advice he would give to all the Australian players heading over to Scotland.

With prior A-League Mens experience at Melbourne City, Central Coast Mariners, and the Newcastle Jets, a move back home for the Australian after a stint at Scottish side St Mirren certainly makes sense.

Millar picked the league’s newest team, Macarthur FC, describing the club as “ambitious” during the initial press release of the signing, and noting that “he was thrilled to be a part of this project”.

Like any footballer, Millar came in with some expectations, and those expectations have been surpassed already.

“In terms of resources and professionalism, we’ve just had the new kitchen put in, new gym put in, training fields been done up,” Millar told The Inner Sanctum.

“In terms of that, facility-wise, it’s been a massive step-up and I know chatting to the boys last year, they’re just shocked about the resources that have been put into it.

“Even going further than that, the coaching staff and having Russ (Russell Latapy) and obviously the gaffer (Dwight Yorke) in, it’s just been huge. A real buzz of energy.

“It’s been really exciting so far.”

The appointment of coach Dwight Yorke was one that certainly surprised a lot of fans, as this will be his first head coach job at a club side (Yorke was the coach for the A-Leagues All-Stars in a 3-2 loss to Barcelona at the end of the 2021/22 season).

For Millar and the rest of the squad, there are no concerns when it comes to Yorke being a first-time coach.

“You can just see his experience and I think that’s the main thing that everyone is sort of feeding off. He brings a real energy to training,” Millar said.

“He’s always there to pick his ear and obviously he’s got such an amazing playing career.

“It’s just a really amazing opportunity for everyone to be able to just tap into that.

“I think his playing career makes up for that [his inexperience as a coach].

“He’s really come in just so organised and everything’s been amazing since day one.”

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During his time at the Newcastle Jets, Millar was loaned to League One side Shrewsbury Town before returning to Australia. The move saw him move across to England during the middle of a global pandemic which led to some unique experiences playing football.

“I’m pretty thankful in the end. There was a bit of a delay in the season when I initially moved to Shrewsbury so we had maybe three or four months off where we weren’t really sure when the season would start,” he said.

“I was really lucky to have the opportunity to go over there on loan initially.

“At the start, we were still in lockdown in the UK so it was disappointing not to be able to play in front of fans and there were quite some big clubs that were in League One at the time so we’d go to a couple of places that you’d hope to have a full stadium where they were.

“As we sort of progressed through the season, restrictions sort of came out and it’s just amazing.

“It sort of showed me the level of where we’ve still got to go in terms of each sort of club owns their own stadium and it’s a small boutique 8000-seater stadium that they sort of almost fill up.

“The atmosphere there was something that we sort of don’t have here. It was really amazing to play in.”

After his loan deal ended, Millar returned to Australia before moving to Scotland and signing a one-year deal with St Mirren, again during a global pandemic. The atmosphere at games in Scotland was something Millar was again quick to point out.

“It was an amazing experience. Every team just fills out stadiums. It’s just an amazing atmosphere and I think they live and die by football over there so it was just, for me, a once-in-a-lifetime chance to sort of experience that.”

Matt Millar during his time at St Mirren (Photo Credit: St Mirren)

The move to St Mirren sets Millar up with an opportunity to provide advice to the contingent of Australians that have made their way over to Scotland over the last few months, having been there for a season.

“The big thing is just to take your opportunity. It’s so ruthless over there. They’ve got bigger squads. They’ve got people hungry, people wanting to do well to move on to the next club,” Millar said.

“So I think just being present and in the moment and taking the opportunity when it comes I think is a massive thing because you never know what happens in football.

“Going to Scotland for me was such an experience and it’s such a platform because you’re playing in some big stadiums against some big clubs and it’s just such an experience and you’ve really got to seize the moment.”

One unique atmospheric experience that Millar will not have had during his time in either England or Scotland is all of the cow bells that ring throughout Campbelltown Stadium during Macarthur FC home games.

“I’m excited to hear the cowbells. That will be a different experience again and one that I’m pretty excited to hear,”

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