Obituary: Turnbull Hutton, former Raith Rovers chairman, 68

Turnbull Hutton spoke out against the Scottish football establishment. Picture: Neil Doig
Turnbull Hutton spoke out against the Scottish football establishment. Picture: Neil Doig
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Leading figures from Scottish football and the drinks industry have paid their respects to former Raith Rovers chairman Turnbull Hutton, who has died aged 68.

Turnbull Hutton was born in Burntisland in 1946, the only child of Alexander and Barbara. Educated at the town’s primary school and then Kirkcaldy High, he left with just four O-levels to his name before taking banking exams and starting work in the National Bank in Burntisland.

After a spell working in Aberdour, he moved to the Distillers Company Ltd (DCL) in South Queensferry as a bond clerk and began his ascent up the whisky industry ladder.

He married Margo, whom he had known from childhood, in 1968 in Burntisland. Following roles in the Capital and Leven, Turnbull, Margo and daughter Lindsey – then aged nine months – moved to Corstorphine in 1978 after his job brought him to Edinburgh permanently.

Despite his lack of school exam success, he graduated from Harvard Business School in 1989 following a three-month course.

Climbing through the ranks at United Distillers and subsequently UDV – following the Guinness merger with Grand Metropolitan in 1997 which created Diageo – he retired in 2001 as managing director of Scottish operations.

With time on his hands – and wife Margo keen for him not to be getting under her feet at home – the lifelong Raith fan joined the board at Stark’s Park. Often viewing it as one of the most expensive hobbies, he helped save the club during some of its darkest days having enjoyed its greatest moments from the stands in the mid-1990s, including the 1994 League Cup final win over Celtic and subsequent Uefa Cup campaign.

He became chairman but was forced to relinquish the role in the wake of a stroke in 2004. A second spell in the top job, however, would turn Turnbull Hutton into something of a household name in Scottish football.

Following Rangers’ demise in 2012 and league bosses’ attempts to parachute the “newco” club into the second tier, he famously claimed outside Hampden that lower-league teams were being “bullied, railroaded and lied to”, adding: “It’s corrupt.”

Instantly, he became, as he succinctly put it, the voice of the “diddy” clubs and received numerous letters and e-mails of support from fans of teams across the land.

Son Neil said: “He was known for his straight talking and forthright views but he had a heart of gold. He doted on his family and loved to play with granddaughter Sophia, despite his dodgy knees.”

Mr Hutton stood down from the Rovers board in November 2014 after the club posted a profit for the second year in succession and he was made honorary life president.

Sadly, he didn’t get to enjoy that title for long and he passed away on Easter Sunday at the Western General Hospital following a brief battle with leukaemia.

His funeral at a packed Kirkcaldy Crematorium last week was attended by around 250 mourners.