Our Game Has Lost A Giant

Turnbull-HuttonToday Scottish football lost a giant, the man who should have been king, an honest man, a good man, some say, and I agree with them, a great man.

Turnbull Hutton has passed away, and his death is not simply that of just another backroom administrator, but that of a man who inspired a cause and who spoke for all of us.

He told the truth when others feared to try.

It is impossible to imagine the long, difficult summer of 2012 without his contribution to it, when he stood on the steps of Hampden and told the cameras that what was going on in that building, as the authorities and governing bodies strove to find a safe berth for Sevco Rangers, was nothing short of corrupt. That word cut through all the BS.

It went to the heart of everything many of us were thinking and feeling, and longing for someone to say.

On that day, he made himself a target, made himself an enemy of many in our sport, and painted a bullseye for lunatics and psychopaths on the wall of his club stadium, and he probably knew he was doing that when he said those words.

But Turnbull refused to be cowed. He knew what was right and wrong that day, and he refused to back down.

He was steadfast, even when those maniacs came calling and tried to set fire to the ground.

He was a no-nonsense guy, but one with a big heart and an open, friendly face which you got good vibes from.

He was a gentleman who it might have been easy to underestimate, but who had steel in his soul.

When he saw his club, and his fellow chairmen, being bounced into a scandalous decision he bucked that push and inspired others inside and outside the room to do the same.

He spoke for them that day on the steps, as he spoke for us, and articulated what some of them were thinking but didn’t have the stomach to say.

His courage was the flag they, and we, needed and we rallied to it. He was one of the “few good men” the game required at that time.

And he proved, as good men have throughout time, that speaking the truth plainly and without fear is often enough to move the tides.

His club, Raith Rovers, revered him. It was only fitting that he should have one of his finest hours at the helm of that club, the Challenge Cup victory over Sevco Rangers itself, at Easter Road on this day just one year ago.

The memories of that day will now forever be tinged with sadness, but also, always, with the kind of exhilaration that comes from a triumph of right over wrong, of good over bad, of light over darkness, encapsulated in his smile as his team walked around the ground with the trophy.

He stepped back from his role in the game some months ago, we now know to deal, privately, with leukaemia, the illness which took his life.

I believe it is one of the great tragedies of our national sport that he did not seek an executive role with the SFA or the SPFL because he would have brought integrity, honour and honesty to organisations which so often act completely without them.

For the last couple of years, he came more and more into the role of public critic towards those organisations and I think those in office came to fear him, as they should have. He had their measure, knew their worth … and he was ten times what they were.

We would have been right behind him, steadfastly, had he ever made a bid to take them on, and overhaul our sport.

Turnbull Hutton leaves this world as the guy who, for one shining moment, became part of the mythology of our game.

He stood on the steps at Hampden and refused to do what others had, to be silent when he knew something rotten was in the air.

I will remember that moment forever, when he blew away in an instant every piece of spin, when he dashed against the Wall of Truth the container of lies that we were being asked to swallow.

He could have chosen his words carefully, been politic about what he knew was going on in there, but he knew the game deserved better and needed more, and so he called out the charlatans and sent a message to everyone that was crystal clear.

What we owe him for that cannot be measured or quantified.

We will never, ever forget him and nor should we.

His name passes into the annals of history, the kind that outlasts what’s in the chip wrappers.

In years to come, when we tell our kids and our grandkids about those days, we will tell them that one man articulated events perfectly, and that man was Turnbull Hutton of Raith Rovers football club … a small man in the scheme of things, but a giant.

A leader when we needed one the most.

Honourable, honest and inspiring. That’s how he was.

All who knew him should be proud to have done so.

All of us who got to know him consider it a privilege.

This game owes him an enormous debt.

Thank you, Turnbull, and rest in peace brother.

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James Forrest

James Forrest is a writer and blogger from Glasgow, and the author of two books, Fragments and Believers, which are available on Amazon.

9 thoughts on “Our Game Has Lost A Giant

  • 6 April, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    It’s tragic for Scottish football that the likes of Turnbull Hutton is taken from us when he could have been the one to bring about the much needed revolution within the corridors of Hampden.It makes my flesh creep every time I think that our own,esteemed CEO is involved in policy/decision making at the highest level.Hopefully,there will be someone of Turnbull’s ilk,who will step forward from the shadows to save Scottish football from those people who are hell bent on destroying it’s credibility for the sake of one club.All who have the best interests of the game in Scotland owe this man a huge debt of gratitude. RIP Turnbull Hutton

  • 6 April, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.
    Turnbull Hutton a giant amongst SFA /SPFL pygmies.

  • 6 April, 2015 at 3:06 pm

    A fitting epitaph James…..well said.

    RIP Turnbull Hutton…….a giant of a man in lots of ways.

  • 6 April, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    Very Well said !
    An excellent reminder of the scandalous behaviour that the SFA etc will try to get away with in a heartbeat to progress their club.
    Turnbull was indeed a giant amongst a bunch of complete PYGMIES!
    Who will replace him ?..Certainly doesn’t look like being Lawwell.

  • 6 April, 2015 at 5:29 pm

    A fine tribute James,well done,RIP,Turnbull Hutton.prayers for an honourable Man and his family.

  • 6 April, 2015 at 5:44 pm

    Thank you for reminding us of a man for all seasons .A man of principles.We were blessed to have known and loved him.May he rest in peace.

  • 6 April, 2015 at 6:43 pm

    We all need to follow his lead. Truth will win. God bless your family in their loss. RIP Turnbull.

  • 6 April, 2015 at 8:17 pm

    Your best piece yet IMO James, Turnbull was a giant in our game and will never be forgotten

  • 6 April, 2015 at 9:08 pm

    A fitting tribute, James. Well said. In 2012 the SFA/SPFL and
    the SMSM campaigned to disparage the concept of ‘integrity’ solely because it was an obstacle the the aspirations of their beloved Rangers. For a time Scotland became the only location on the planet where the word ‘integrity’ was spat out with a venomous contempt by these corrupt forces.
    Courage is a rare commodity these days but Turnbull Hutton was fearless in defence of truth and honesty. In an era characterised by spineless hypocrits and glib liars, Turnbull personified integrity. RIP sir, your name will live long in the football history of Scotland.

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