Turnbull Hutton, who has died aged 68, in Edinburgh’s Western Infirmary, after a short illness, is best known to the public as the conscience of Scottish football.
The big, bluff Fifer, earned that status with his legendary rant on the top step at Hampden Park, as he voiced the disgust of the body of Scottish fitba’s “kirk” at the efforts of the Hampden “blazers” to ignore their own rules to keep the ghost of the liquidated Rangers as high up the football food chain as possible.
The six foot plus, well-built Raith Rovers chairman, as he then was, didn’t miss the officials and hit the post as he blasted the moves to soften the effects of the Ibrox club’s demise, with the result, the so-called “diddy” clubs won the day and the new Rangers had to start from the lowest tier in the professional game. His stance on behalf of the lesser lights also, in a way, led to the re-organisation of the governing body.
He had also gone on the attack in support of his old friend Eric Drysdale, after then Rangers’ manager Ally McCoist had demanded to know the identity of the members – including Drysdale – of the supposed confidential SFA committee which had voted against Rangers in another issue at that time.
Hutton was a man who called a spade a spade: the plans to ease Rangers into the upper reaches of the game were “a dead parrot” and some of the football writers from the mythical “Lap Top Loyal” dismisssed as “a bunch of Fuds”.
His was no silver-spoon-fed journey into football’s corridors of power. He began as, and right up to his death, was, a Raith Rovers fan; albeit one who had journeyed from the terraces of Stark’s Park to the boardroom. He more than paid his dues – often literally, with short-term injections of his own cash to keep his beloved Rovers going.
Born and raised in Burntisland, he went from the local primary school to Kirkcaldy High School, where he was a year or two ahead of another famous Raith fan, future Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
On leaving school, Hutton joined the National Bank, but, soon decided ledgers were not for him. He then got a job as a stock clerk with United Distillers, on the bottom rung of an industry ladder he would ascend to the heights.
His training was thorough, through every department and when UD consolidated much of their work in their sight at Leven in his native Fife, Turnbull went there as bond department manager.
Mr Hutton’s career began to take-off when Diageo-Guinness took over UDV. He ran the Inventory and Supply division as this giant of the drinks industry streamlined its operation and became more profitable. He then took charge of the entire middle part of the whisky production process, between distilling and packaging, eventually, in spite of his own admission that he was not a distilling technician, taking charge of that side of things as well, as he became joint managing director of Scottish Operations prior to his retirement.
This meant lots of travelling, round the 27 distilleries and the various bottling plants for which he was responsible, but also around the world, where he made many friends in the international drinks industry.
He even found time to take a course at Harvard Business School, where he made many lasting friends around the world.
But, always, he relaxed by watching his beloved Raith Rovers, helping his friend Eric Drysdale to found the Raith Rovers Shareholders Association in 1996, prior to joining the board in 2000.
He briefly stood down in 2004, following a minor stroke, but, with the club in crisis following the shambolic reign of manager Claude Anelka, he returned to Stark’s Park to become Chairman and help steady the ship. On standing down from this position in 2012, he was appointed honorary president, a post he was honoured and delighted to fill.
Away from football, he relaxed by driving his 1965 Mini Cooper in classic car rallies, some of which entailed visiting the distilleries for which he was responsible.
Turnbull Hutton’s final years were blighted somewhat by his contracting a rare blood disease, which he generally managed well. However, having been increasingly unwell since New Year, he was admitted to Edinburgh’s Western Infirmary, where, on Good Friday he received the bad news, he had contracted leukaemia.
Turnbull Hutton died peacefully on Monday night, surrounded by his family, his wife Margo, whom he had first met as a fellow pupil at Burntisland Primary, daughter Lindsay, son Neil and grand-daughter Sophie. Another grand-daughter, Hope, had died as an infant.
He was not a great drinker, he felt Johnnie Walker Black Label was the top blend. He loved Cragganmore single malt, until, on a trip to New York, he was persuaded to try Talisker over ice, and was converted to, as he said: “A young hip transitional”.
Turnbull Hutton’s funeral will be held at Kirkcaldy Crematorium, at 12.45pm, on Thursday, 16 April.