(First published in Stags fanzine "Follow The Yellow Brick Road", in 1998)
Johnny Miller - profile of career at the Stags
Johnny Miller played for the Stags for 4 seasons during the 1970s, from 1976/77 - 1979/80.
He made a total of 122 appearances and scored 16 goals.
Miller was signed from Norwich in July 1976 for £10,000 and was manager Peter Morris’ first signing.
In his 1st season in 1976-77 season when Stags were promoted to Division 2 for the only time in their history, Johnny Miller played every league game apart from 6. He scored 5 goals that season including two in the 5-0 home win against Bury in October.
His goals against Bury were both spectacular - the 1st was a 30yd blockbuster and the 2nd was a free kick bent round the wall earning him the Man of the Match award. His next goal was away to Sheffield Wednesday in a 2-0 win in front of 15,000 fans and was a simple tap-in after Ian McDonald had hit the bar. He had to wait 2 months for his next goal - a left foot cracker in the last minute against Wrexham earning a 2-0 win in December. His final goal of the season was in January in a 2-2 draw at Portsmouth. It was described in the Daily Telegraph as a speculative cross from wide on the left which caught the goalkeeper out of position and went in off the post. Miller played the first half of the season in midfield but from February, moved on to the wing where he seemed to be more effective. Miller was instrumental in Mansfield winning the Championship that season though he missed the last 4 games of the season with a foot injury. During these final games the Stags won promotion and in a famous 1-0 win at Wrexham on the last day of the season, also won the Championship.
The following season, Miller played in all the games except 10 in Division 2 scoring 5 league goals plus the only goal in the FA Cup 3rd round win against Plymouth.
Miller’s 1st goal for the Stags in Division 2 was in the 3-1 victory at home to Luton in November when he scored with a right foot shot after the goalkeeper had failed to collect Kevin Bird’s cross. His next goal was 3 games later away to Orient with a brilliant chip but it was in vain in a 4-2 defeat. In the 3rd round of the FA Cup against Plymouth, Miller smashed the only goal from 25 yards. He wasn’t on the score sheet again until April when he scored in 3 games out of 4, all 3 of which were won. The first was a header from Barry Foster’s cross to beat Oldham 1-0 away. Then he got a touch to turn in Colin Foster’s shot in a 2-1 win at Blackpool and finally, a tap in from John Aston’s low cross in the 3-0 win against Bristol Rovers. Sandwiched inbetween these 3 wins was a 2-2 draw at home to Blackburn in which Miller missed a penalty after 20 minutes. He not only hammered the spot kick over the bar but out of the ground. It was Mansfield’s fourth penalty kick in a row that they missed although the Stags had another penalty later in the game that was converted by Dave Syrett. Mansfield were relegated 7 points adrift of safety.
The next season, back in Division 3, Miller played 28 league games plus 3 as sub, scored 4 league goals plus 1 goal in the League Cup.
He started the season well with a 30 yard free kick at Darlington in the League Cup but the Stags went out against their 4th division opponents. His first league goal was in a 4-1 win at Plymouth in September with a chip over the goalkeeper from distance 2 minutes from time. Later the same month, he scored the only goal in a home win against Carlisle. His next goal was in mid-April in a 2-1 win at Peterborough. He picked the ball up in his own half and threaded his way into the penalty box before beating the keeper. Ironically Miller had come on as substitute and had just been the subject of a £10,000 bid from Peter Morris who was by now the manager of Peterborough. Miller’s final ever goal for the Stags was a fierce shot to save a point at home to Oxford in May 1979.
In 1979-80, he missed most of the season through illness
and played just 9 games plus one as sub, without scoring. At the end of the
season he was released on a free transfer.
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