Of all the great prop forwards to have worn the famous black and white of Widnes, Jim Mills stands out as one biggest characters and possibly the most controversial! 'Big Jim as he is affectionately, known played at all levels during a long and distinguished career. He was honoured to play for his beloved Wales and also to play prominent roles in the Great Britain sides of the Seventies, not to mention picking up virtually every winners medal available to him during his time with that great 'Cup Kings' side.
Much has been made over the years of his disciplinary record, but it was unfortunate that in some circles it disguised the fact that Jim was one of the best forwards that this country has ever produced! When ever anyone asks the big man about the best thing that he's ever done in his career Jim is most adamant, 'signing for Widnes'. Jim's adventures on the field quickly endeared him to the Widnes public, they loved his no nonsense style and his epic duels with opposing props.
On the pitch he loved to tangle with the likes of Nicholas, Van Bellen and the others. There was at times what seemed like a war of attrition going on but really on occasions the public made too much of it. One of the things that Jim liked so much about the game says a lot about the integrity of the player, no matter what happened out on the pitch and how close a struggle it had been, after the match it was all forgotten. In fact some of his best friends now are those who used to try to knock him into the ground!
Jim's most memorable game for Widnes is perhaps no surprise. He remembers the day when he stepped out at Wembley Stadium for the first time against arch rivals Warrington in the 1975 Challenge Cup Final.That day was very special, not only to Jim but to the thousands of Widnesians who traveled down the M6 to Wembley Stadium. He's been back to Wembley to play since that day but nothing ever matched up to the thrill of the event. Some players say that they can't remember anything of their first visit to the twin towers but he remembered it all!
He had good reason to. In what was a classic final Jim scored Widnes's only try, he strolled in unopposed wide out in the centres. It was the 'game breaker'. Vinty Karalius was the Widnes coach that day and it had been he who with the then chairman of the club Jim Davies had persuaded Big Jim to come to Widnes back in 1972. He had a choice of offers from both Wigan and Bradford Northern as well as Widnes, as we know he chose Widnes, and the rest is history The 1980/81 season proved to be Jim's last with the club as a player. He was 35 years old at the time and in a night match against Bradford he suffered a badly damaged knee, aggravating an older injury.
Surgery followed and the specialist issued a stern warning to him against even considering playing again. Wisely he heeded the warning. It was the end of a career that had spanned some 16 years. If the truth be known, Jim wasn't too upset. He'd had a good run and achieved everything possible. He'd played all over the world, including a very lucrative spell with North Sydney Bears in Australia, and made many friends along the way. The people of Widnes took him to their hearts and still today in many of the towns pubs and clubs people recall his exploits with affection and respect. The man was a raging bull on the field and a gentleman off it!© This text has been taken from the Widnes R.L.F.C Hall of Fame Brochure which was written by Sam Patmore, Ron Girvin, Stephen Fox, John Potter & Chris Moore.