miller time at dundalk
Ex-Ger in spotlight as Lilies blossom
THOSE associated with a certain Glasgow club who wear blue shirts and play in Ibrox would not always expect a warm welcome in border town Dundalk.
But former Rangers man Tom Miller is establishing himself as a new hero to Dundalk fans as he's been a key figure in an impressive start to a season that has seen the Lilywhites nestle into the top three of the Premier Division table.
Miller, 19, has an interesting backstory: he's English-born but has spent much of his career in Scotland and Ireland; he spent two years at Rangers but his Scottish dad is a die-hard Celtic supporter. But Miller is now committed to the Dundalk cause and is delighted to be part of a side aiming to go top of the table tonight if they can beat St Pats and hope that Bohemians drop points at home to Sligo Rovers.
"I am happy with how the season has started, for me and for the team, but I know there is more to come. I have enjoyed every minute of it since I came to Ireland. My own form has been okay but the fact that the team are doing well and are third in the league is even better," said Miller, who joined Dundalk at the start of the season after his spell with Rangers.
"It's a new experience for me. This is the first time I have really been involved in a first-team environment before."
He impressed in the first two games of the season for Dundalk -- he started against Bray Wanderers and came on as sub against Drogheda United -- but he really caught the eye in Sunday's 2-0 win away to Shamrock Rovers, causing Dundalk boss Ian Foster to pick out Miller as, "the best player on the park".
"It was nice to get praise after the Shamrock Rovers win last week, but the main thing is that we won the game. Three points for the team is far more important to me than getting praise for myself," Miller told the Herald as he prepared for tonight's big game at home to St Pat's, which offers Dundalk a realistic chance to go top of the Premier Division table for the first time since they won the league in 1995.
"It's good to hear nice things said about you. It's a boost for your confidence," he said. "But the real sign of how well I am doing is where Dundalk are in the table, and thankfully we've had a good start.
"We didn't play that well in our first two games but we got the results. We got four points and I think we showed how good we can be in last week's game away to Shamrock Rovers."
Miller may have ended up at Dundalk via Ibrox but he says he's had no difficulties due to his past. "There is no issue with me being an ex-Rangers player. My dad is Celtic crazy," he said.
"He didn't mind seeing me in the Rangers shirt. He just wanted what's best for me and for my career. Because I wasn't Scottish the whole Celtic/Rangers thing wasn't as big for me. It was just another club as far as I was concerned.
"I didn't really have any worries coming over here and it's turned out great for me -- the fans accepted me right away. There might be a bit of banter about the Rangers thing but it doesn't matter to me at all. I am a Dundalk man.
"I am at Dundalk full-time and I am finished up with Rangers now. This isn't a loan deal. When I left Rangers they said they would keep in touch and keep an eye on me to see how I do, but I am a Dundalk player," added Miller.
He began his career with Ipswich Town, had a spell at Norwich City and then went to Rangers, where he was a regular in the reserves before he was allowed to leave earlier this year. Dundalk boss Foster had been aware of Miller from his time in England and was keen to snap him up. Despite the financial woes in the League of Ireland, Miller was happy to chance his luck.
"I had no worries about coming over here," he said. "I had been told about the money situation in the league but it was a great chance for me to play at a high level, and also play in Europe, which I am looking forward to.
"But we have Europe at the back of our minds now. We'll worry about that in July when the Europa League comes along. We have a massive game against St Pats and we feel we can win it. It may not be enough to go top, but we are right up there and that's a credit to the side we have.
"We showed away to Shamrock Rovers what we can do. We beat them 2-0 and fully deserved the win, so we have no reason to fear St Pats.
"No one is talking about us as contenders this season but we feel we can do well in the league and win a trophy, so St Pats tonight is a good test."