Port Glasgow born inside left Johnny McMillan began his career with hometown club Port Glasgow Athletic in 1889 before joining Edinburgh-based club St Bernard’s in 1890. He soon moved to England to join Derby County in November 1890, making his Football League debut against Accrington the next month. He was an ever present in the 1893-94 campaign scoring 21 goals as Derby finished 3rd in the League Championship. In May 1896 he moved to Leicester Fosse after 50 goals in 128 games for The Rams, and stayed another five seasons in the East Midlands, scoring 48 goals in 131 appearances before signing for Small Heath (now Birmingham City) in January 1901.
He made his debut for the club in February 1901, and his 13 goals in the remaining 13 games of the 1900-01 season, which included the winning goal in four of those games, made a major contribution to Small Heath’s securing runners-up spot in the Second Division and promotion to the First Division. Injury forced him to miss a part of the 1901-02 season, in which the club were relegated, and his contribution to another promotion as Second Division runners-up in 1902-03 was again severely curtailed by injury, when he managed only 12 matches.
In May 1903, after 25 goals in 52 appearances, he moved once again to Bradford City, who were entering the Football League for the first time. McMillan was selected as captain by his fellow Bradford players in the club’s inaugural Football League match, a 2-0 defeat to Grimsby Town on 1st September 1903. He finished the 1903-04 season as the club’s top scorer and played for two more seasons at City, scoring 27 goals in 91 games for The Bantams, before moving to Glossop North End in May 1906. He finished his playing career with The Hillmen in 1908, scoring once in 28 appearances.
McMillan returned to Birmingham as trainer in 1909. He went on to manage Gillingham being appointed manager in July 1920, and was the first man to take charge of the team in a Football League match, Gillingham having been elected to the Football League Third Division in the summer of 1920. This was his only known managerial appointment, leaving the club in August 1922.
McMillan’s son Stuart was a footballer playing for Derby County prior to the First World War, then Gillingham, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Bradford City, Nottingham Forest and Clapton Orient through to the late 1920’s, also a first class cricketer for Derbyshire, and later manager of Derby County from 1946, when he won the first post War FA Cup Final with them, until his death in 1953.