Obituary: James Pithie, 85

James Pithie played for Hearts before he contracted tuberculosis. Picture: contributed

James Pithie played for Hearts before he contracted tuberculosis. Picture: contributed

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James Pithie, footballer and civil servant, has died, aged 85.

Jim was a promising young Hearts centre half whose playing career was sadly cut short when he contracted tuberculosis.

Making his debut as a teenager in 1946, he stepped in for the injured Bobby Baxter, who had taken him under his wing at Tynecastle.

Born in Edinburgh on January 20, 1928, to Thomas and Elizabeth Pithie, Jim joined the Royal Scots as a teenager, turning out as a centre half for Scottish Command and representing the army against a French eleven whilst posted to the continent.

Spotted by Hearts while playing rugby for Boroughmuir and football for Newtongrange Star, he played in victories over clubs including Rangers and Aberdeen.

Jim said he was particularly proud of his performance in a friendly match against Chelsea in 1947, in which he was charged with marking the London club’s prolific England international striker Tommy Lawton.

He would often point out that though Hearts lost the game by four goals to one, Lawton failed to make the scoresheet.

But the youngster’s promising career was cut short when he was struck down with tuberculosis, after making just eight appearances for Hearts.

In July 1953, he married Rose, a nurse who had helped him recover from his illness.

This was to be a marriage that stood the test of time, the couple celebrating their diamond wedding anniversary last year.

Jim went on to spend three decades working for the Meat and Livestock Commission in Edinburgh and remained a well-known face in his south Edinburgh neighbourhood.

In later life, Jim was an elder at the Church of Scotland in Liberton and president of the Whitehouse and Grange Bowling club. He is survived by his wife Rose, with who he had five children – Carolyn, James, Jane, Alan and Alison.

Jim also had nine grandchildren, Colin, Craig, Anna, Niall, James, Finn, Alasdair, Jane and Sarah and four great grandchildren Katie, Skye, Darius and Elizabeth.

He died peacefully at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary on Saturday, just two days short of his 86th birthday, following a short illness.

His funeral will be held at 12.30pm on Monday at Mortonhall Crematorium.