HE’S a distinctive sight, is Iain Mills, the director whose resignation has sparked so much publicity that he got Bury a mention on Radio One’s Newsbeat this afternoon.
I first noticed him properly at one of League Two’s colder grounds as autumn turned to winter at the end of last year. I can’t remember which ground it was: for the sake of argument, let’s say it was Morecambe.
Anyway, there was I, with a group of other journalists, freezing ourselves silly outside the tunnel waiting for Chris Casper to emerge and give us his thoughts, when a man mountain in a black T-shirt and shorts, walked past, a pair of spectacles hanging round his neck.
I was in the middle of a brief spell covering Bury for the Manchester Evening News, and I was still getting to know the characters around the club.
Me: Who was that?
Fellow journalist: That’s Iain Mills; he’s one of the directors.
Me: It’s a bit cold to be walking round in shorts, isn’t it?
Fellow journalist: He always wears shorts.
Me: What? Even in the middle of winter?!
Fellow journalist: Yes.
Mills was instrumental in keeping Bury afloat during a period of financial difficulties in 2003, pumping a small fortune into the club to buy the ground.
He still owns the mortgage on Gigg Lane. But now, he has resigned as a director . . . and it’s all because of those shorts.
Somebody, somewhere in the hospitality suite under the main stand, complained about Mills’ attire. Bury’s fellow directors (the club don’t have a chairman) suggested that he might want to consider staying out of the suite on matchdays. Mills decided to quit instead.
“On the rare occasions that I do wear a suit, the sweat just pours off me,” he told the Manchester Evening News. “I am just more comfortable in shorts.
“It is not as if I turn up in a G-string; then they would have something to complain about,” he told the Bury Times. “I’m just sorry that it has come to this.”
“He is concerned that his shorts have become a major consideration in connection with the club,” read a statement on the club’s official website.
Somebody, somewhere has been extraordinarily petty in this affair. As is often the case with the petty, they have managed to maintain their anonymity.
As for Mills, he has merely been confirmed as one of football’s true heroes. If he wants to wear shorts, I’m not going to argue with him. Particularly as, according to reports, he weighs 21 stone. Those must be damn big shorts.
But please, Iain, not the G-string.