From the Bernabéu Stadium to Bootham Crescent
York City's new manager Gary Roland Mills was born on 11th November 1961 in Northampton. His father Roley was a professional footballer with Northampton Town, while Mills himself was always a talented sportsman after being capped for England Schools in both soccer and Rugby Union, as well as showing genuine promise as an All-England Schools 100 metres finalist.
Mills actually began his playing career under the stewardship of the legendary Brian Clough at Nottingham Forest. There he became the youngest-ever European Cup finalist when as an eighteen-year-old replacing the sidelined Trevor Francis in a 1-0 victory against Hamburg at the Bernabéu Stadium in Madrid. After making 58 appearances and scoring eight times for Forest between 1978-82, Mills decided to move across the water to join Seattle Sounders.
But he was to only remain in the States for a short while. He returned to England and signed for Derby County on loan, where he netted twice in eighteen games. That prompted a second spell at the City Ground, and he was to stay for the next four years and make 74 appearances while claiming four goals between 1983-87.
From there he joined Forest's local rivals Notts County for just under two seasons, until agreeing upon a switch to Leicester City. Mills was an integral part of midfield during five seasons with the Foxes, making 200 senior appearances and netting fifteen goals. He was a member of their successful First Division play-offs side of 1993-94.
After departing Filbert Street he returned to Notts County, where he won an Anglo-Italian Cup medal before leaving in 1996 to take up his first managerial role at Grantham Town. It was there that Mills, a UEFA 'A' badge level coach, first teamed up with his future long-term assistant Darron Gee. He then made a brief return to playing with Gresley Rovers until taking a vacant managerial position at King's Lynn. A short spell at Tamworth followed before a move back into the Football League and to Coventry City as first-team coach in 2002.
Two years later Mills replaced Bill Dearden at one of his former clubs Notts County, but couldn't prevent them from being relegated to League Two. Even so a reorganisation of their squad and a healthier playing budget during the summer of 2004 promised much, until a dreadful start to their next campaign ended with him being sacked in November.
Following that setback Mills earned himself a three-year deal as manager of Alfreton Town in May 2005, although he was never to see out the full term as he rejoined Tamworth in January 2007. However, once again he was unable to save his club from relegation, this time from the Conference.
Nevertheless, Mills was to bounce back in style within twelve months when leading the Lambs to the Conference North title, while also returning to playing action at the age of 47 as a late substitute in their final game of the campaign.
Back in the top flight of non-league football, Mills successfully guided Tamworth to a sixteenth-placed finish last term, while a very bright start to proceedings this time around now sees his former club comfortably positioned in mid-table.