Tributes were being paid today to former Hibs player Tommy Preston, a member of the Easter Road side which played in the first European Cup tie against German outfit Rot-Weiss Essen, who has died at the age of 82.
Born in Longstone, Thomas Baxter Preston began his playing career with Juniper Thistle before moving to Edinburgh Thistle and then Newtongrange Star. He signed for Hibs on October 6, 1953 and made his first-team debut exactly 61 years ago today against Celtic.
TP, as he was known, went on to play 313 games for Hibs, scoring 50 goals, the most memorable undoubtedly being Preston scoring home and away against Barcelona in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup of 1961.
Maurice Dougan, secretary of the Hibs Former Players Association, said: “I was speaking to Tam last year and he was saying that he had been down the bowling club and the Champions League game between Barcelona and Bayern Munich was on the telly.
“He turned to the guys he was playing dominos with and said ‘I don’t know what all the fuss is about, I have played and scored against them both!’ He then said he was chapping.”
Preston was transferred to St Mirren in season 1964-65 but only played one game for them.
He ended up in the pub trade, taking charge of the Travellers Rest at the bus station, the Loch Inn at Lochend and, latterly, the Annfield in Newhaven, which he ran with his partner Janet. Her sons still run the pub.
Up until recently Preston was an active member of the Hibs Former Players Association and went to Hibs home games, where he was a regular guest in the directors’ box.
Former team-mate John Fraser said: “Tam and I went back to our days with Edinburgh Thistle: Harry Redding, who took the team, was the groundsman at Easter Road and it was like a nursery team for Hibs with the likes of John McClelland, Lawrie Reilly and Archie Buchanan also going on to play for the club.
“We played all through the years together. He worked on the railways beside my dad and that’s where I became friendly with him. He worked there for years before he went to the forces to do his National Service and then going full-time as a football player.
“Tam had a great left foot and, like myself, he could play two or three positions. He was a creative midfielder, the old-fashioned inside forward who was really great on the ball and could see the pass. But when Lawrie was injured for a spell Tam went and played centre-forward in that Famous Five team.
“There’s not many Scottish players who can say they’ve scored home and away against Barcelona as Tam did.
“He was a very popular guy, not just with his fellow Hibs players but with the likes of Jim Baxter at Rangers, while Jimmy Murray at Hearts was a really close pal as were Dave Mackay and Andy Bowman.”