One that got away.....
Career : 1964 - 1965
Debut : Round 1, 1964 vs North Melbourne, aged 19 years, 350 days
Carlton Player No. 758
Games : 11
Goals : 29
Last Game : Round 8, 1965 vs Melbourne, aged 21 years, 32 days
Guernsey No. 22
Height : 183 cm (6 ft. 0 in.)
Weight : 84.5 kg (13 stone, 4 lbs.)
DOB : May 3, 1944
When Jim 'Frosty' Miller arrived at Carlton in 1964, The Navy Blues were hopeful that a ready-made replacement for retired star full-forward Tom Carroll had been found. Like 'Turkey Tom', Jim was a country boy - from Garfield in West Gippsland. As far as key forwards of that time were concerned, he wasn’t particularly big at 183 cm and 84 kg, but his list of achievements was.
‘Frosty’ had kicked 121 goals to spearhead Garfield’s drive to the West Gippsland Football League Premiership in 1963, and won the Clancy Medal as Best and Fairest in the competition. A born forward, he read the play superbly, accelerated hard on the lead, and had strong, safe hands. Best of all, he was a deadly accurate set shot on goal. At least two other VFL clubs had also approached him, so Carton’s match committee was chuffed when he agreed to play for the Blues.
Carlton acknowledged Miller’s potential by presenting him with the number 22 guernsey made famous by our greatest full-forward - Harry “Soapy’ Vallence - and unveiled him to the football public in the Blues’ first match of the 1964 season, against North Melbourne at Princes Park. Jim kicked two majors in a modest debut, while Carlton won a scrambly affair by eight points.
A week later, in his second game, Carlton supporters glimpsed Miller’s potential for the first time when he kicked five majors in a hard-fought win over Hawthorn at Glenferrie Oval. He steered through another four against Footscray in round four, and after his first six matches had notched up a creditable total of 13 goals. In their wisdom, the match committee then decided to ease the pressure on the youngster and he played out the remainder of the season in the Reserves.
In 1965, the most sensational football story in decades was played out at Princes Park when Melbourne champion Ron Barassi was appointed captain-coach of the Blues, and immediately set about putting his methods in place. Under Barassi, Miller began his second season impressively, and by round 8 had kicked 16.9 in his first five games – including a big haul of six against Collingwood at Victoria Park.
Soon after that however, and to the chagrin of Carlton’s coaching staff and supporters, Jim told Barassi that he had never felt settled at Princes Park, and that he wanted to return home. Despite his tally of 29 goals in just 11 games, League football wasn’t for him. Perhaps it was the hard, regimented training, or the sacrifice of individualism to team rules. Whatever the reason, Jim wasn’t enjoying his football. So the club bowed to the inevitable, and let him go.
Back at Garfield, Jim took up where he left off, and booted a mammoth 148 goals to lead the Stars to yet another WGFL flag in 1966. Two years later, he created another surprise when he joined VFA club Dandenong at the age of 27. Over the next seven seasons, Frosty became a VFA legend in 183 games for the Redlegs, by kicking 883 goals at the spectacular average of 4.8 per game.
Six times in those seven seasons, he headed the VFA goal-kicking list, and twice notched the 'ton'; 106 goals in 1969, and 108 in ‘73. He starred in Dandenong’s 1971 VFA Premiership, before eventually retiring in 1974, at the age of 34.
In 1996, the VFA became the VFL, in a move designed to attract the grass-roots supporter back to local football. Now, each year, the ‘Frosty’ Miller Medal is presented in his honour to the top goal-kicker in the competition. Meanwhile, those Carlton supporters who saw him play at both League and Association level can’t help but wonder just what greater deeds he might have achieved, had he stayed on at Princes Park for a little longer.
Picture courtesy of FullPointsFooty.
Miller also wore Guernsey No. 15 during thew 1962 season whilst playing with Carlton's reserves team.
LinksArticles: The Magical 'Three Goal Average'
Blueseum: Summary of playing statistics for Jim Miller | Miller's Blueseum Image Gallery
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