He didn’t see himself as a hero. He just said what he thought was right

Turnbull Hutton
Turnbull Hutton

Tributes have paid to former Raith Rovers chairman and honorary president, Turnbull Hutton, who has died at the age of 68.

He had recently been diagnosed with leukaemia, and passed away in Edinburgh’s Western General Hospital on Sunday.

He steered Rovers through some tough times, and also savoured great moments such as victory in the Ramsdens Cup.

Straight talking and direct, he also found himself thrust into the limelight as Scottish football wrestled with what to do with Rangers as the Ibrox club imploded - and his views found favour with fans across Scotland while ruffling the feathers of those in the corridors of power.

But Rovers were his ‘‘all consuming’’ hobby.

He had two spells as the club’s chairman having first joined the board in 2000, before stepping down at the end of last year.

Born on June 19 1946 he was brought up in Burntisland. It was there he met local girl Margo and the pair were married in the town in 1968 and lived there before later moving to Kirkcaldy.

Turnbull was a pupil at Kirkcaldy High School and upon leaving began working in the National Bank on Burntisland High Street, eventually switching to work as a clerk with United Distilleries, where he worked his way up and would stay until his retirement more than 30 years later.

Outside of work Turnbull was a classic car enthusiast, who was proud of his 1965 Mini Cooper which he would occasionally take to car rallies.

But it was upon retiring that Turnbull first joined the board at his “all consuming hobby”, Raith Rovers. His son Neil revealed that Turnbull had been approached by the club previously but hadn’t felt he could give a place on the board the time it deserved commit whilst employed full time.

Neil said: “He knew the club struggled financially and he had helped out in the past. He would always sponsor a couple of games each season and we had season tickets for as long as I can remember.

“Once he retired I think it was just a natural progression and he could commit to it fully.”

It was in 2012 that Turnbull found himself as front page news when he led the opposition to a proposal to allow a new Rangers to play in the old First Division.

“The job had its moments!” said Neil, “He was never backward at coming forward but he just always said what he thought was right and more often than not he was proved to be correct.

“He didn’t want to be seen as anyone’s hero but he thought it was right that someone should speak up at that time.”

At times Rovers struggled to survive but Neil said his father was always proud to be at the club, no matter how hard it could sometimes get.

“He relished the fact that he was in a position to help out the club, both financially and using his business sense.

“Sometimes it could be a burden but he was always proud to represent Raith Rovers.

“I think he was especially proud of the fact that the club survived - that was his biggest achievement.

“Not only that but Rovers never went into administration, the players never went without their wages and all the businesses that the club owed money to got paid.

“It’s a testament to him that the club never went through the darkest doors.”

To pay tribute to Turnbull the team wore the club’s McCrae’s Battalion away kit, an association he was especially proud of, and held a minute’s silence at the game versus Cowdenbeath last night.

Turnbull is survived by wife Margo, daughter Lindsey and son Neil.

Tributes from across the game

Neil Doncaster, SPFL chief executive, said everyone was “deeply saddened” at the death of Turnbull Hutton.

“I was fortunate enough to get to know Turnbull during the period of reconstruction and since, he said.

“He was an individual who added great colour and personality to the Scottish game and has made a tremendous contribution to both Raith Rovers and to Scottish football in general over the years.

“The thoughts of everyone at the SPFL are with the family and close friends of Turnbull at this very sad time.”

Gordon Brown, former Kirkcaldy MP and lifelong Raith Rovers fan, said Turnbull will be sorely missed.

He said: “A lifelong supporter of Raith Rovers he will be remembered for his dedicated leadership of the club and his winning approach to football.

“While other clubs went under or stayed in the red, Turnbull Hutton’s financial acumen steered Raith Rovers to financial stability, paving the way for its Ramsden’s Cup trophy win against Rangers under his chairmanship.

“Even after he stepped down as chairman he remained honorary president of the club he supported since growing up in Fife.

“Our thoughts are with his wife Margo and family.”

Raith Rovers manager Grant Murray said he had Turnbull to thank for taking a chance on him when he was given the job.

“Personally I owe him a massive amount . Firstly coming here as a player and ten getting the opportunity to become the player/manager with Turnbull’s backing.

“Everyone’s a bit down. It’s very sad news but he’ll always be remembered and it was great that I was part of a team that was able to deliver a trophy for him.

Many clubs paid their condolences on Twitter; Livingston, Dunfermline, Falkirk, Morton, Ayr and Hearts all posted tweets.

The McCrae’s Battalion Trust tweeted “Our thoughts are with our friends @RaithRovers_FC today as their former chairman Turnbull Hutton dies” whilst BBC sport journalist Brian McLaughlin said Turnbull was “a lovely man”.

But perhaps the most poignant tribute of all came from the Raith Rovers website, which ended “Today, we are all Turnbull Hutton”.

Details of Turnbull’s funeral will be announced next week.