HE played at the World Cup for Scotland and famously scored for both sides in an FA Cup Final and Tommy Hutchison can trace it back to a car breaking down on the way from Methil.
A Dundonald boy, he shared a pitch with legends like Kenny Dalglish and his “hero” Denis Law, was disrespected by Billy Bremner and was voted player of the century at one of his clubs, it’s an amazing football journey.
Now aged 75, that story has just been published in a new book, Hutch Hard Work and Belief, the Tommy Hutchison story.
And it started at Bluebell’s ground, six doors away from his mum’s house, thanks to that dodgy motor.
He remembered: “The Dundonald team was picked by a committee in the pub at lunchtime and a car with four of the players travelling from Methil had broken down
“One of my uncles was on the committee, he wasn’t sure if they’d make it so he told me to get my boots.
“I had to play on the left wing and I was right footed. I was only about seven stone at the time and couldn’t have reached the box with a corner if I tried, but that was how I got my first start and I played left wing ever since.
“After I’d retired and came back from down south I gave them the jersey I wore when we played against Czechoslovakia, it was framed and they put it in the clubhouse, mainly to show that just because you play for Dundonald, it doesn’t mean that’s the highest you’re going to go and that it’s possible to go on and play for Scotland.”
Famously, he’s not the only footballer from the village to wear the dark blue of his country at a World Cup.
“I was with Willie (Johnston) at a Q&A recently and we were asked about that. How is it possible to get two lads from the same village, both left wingers, who both played professionally, both played for Scotland and went to the same school at the same time?
“It is incredible when you put it like that.”
Willie went to Rangers straight from school but Tommy’s route to the top was less straightforward, and a common theme in the book is his steely determination to overcome knockbacks and rejection.
He said: “I never played at school and I used that to good effect when I was going into school and into the community for the PFA years later.
“These kids would say they weren’t getting a game, that they weren’t good enough, and I would say ‘Hold on, I played for Scotland at the World Cup and in an FA Cup Final and I never played at school’.
“They’d ask ‘Were you injured?’ or ‘Did the teacher not like you?’ – and there was a bit of that! – but it was mostly because I was rubbish at that time.
“What I did though was work hard, trained hard and kept progressing and I got there.
“Just because you get knocked down, it doesn’t mean you have to give in.”
One incident, after a trial game for Dundee United against Dunfermline’s reserves, stuck with him.
He recalled: “I was 16-17, playing against men, and after the game you’d go upstairs and get a cup of tea and a pie.
“The old dear pouring the tea said ‘How did you do today son?’ and before I could answer my dad said ‘Not very good today’.
“She said ‘Well you must have something or you wouldn’t be here’ and I never ever forgot that.
“I’d been for a trial at Oldham around that time and I got a letter from Jimmy McIlroy, the manager.
“It said that he thought I had good skill and ability but I probably wasn’t strong enough to play league football.
“I went on to play 1,000 league games. He was wrong. It was one person’s opinion.
“I used that in the schools I visited too. I could have taken that letter one of two ways, give in or try and prove him wrong.”
His mum, dad and uncles all worked in the pits but Tommy said he was lucky to avoid that, getting an apprenticeship as a painter and decorator with a Bowhill firm.
He combined that with playing for Alloa, he signed for them in 1965 after scoring one and setting up two goals in a win against Albion Rovers.
Tommy’s contract was for the princely sum of £6 a week with a £4 win bonus.
After an enjoyable spell with the Wasps Stan Mortensen – also famous for his FA Cup Final exploits – signed Tommy for Blackpool.
He was only there from 1968 to 1972 but made such an impact he was later inducted into their Hall of Fame.
He recalled: “In my time there we got promoted to the first division and relegated, we won the Anglo-Italian Cup and got beat in the final in the second year.
“Playing against foreign teams really helped me.”
Rumours of a move to Newcastle never came about – the Geordies didn’t have enough money for him and team-mate Tony Green after splashing out on Supermac, Malcolm Macdonald, and he moved to Coventry.
His spell at Highfield Road was the longest of his career and he was later voted the player of the century.
Tommy laughed: “I remember that alright as they presented it to me on the pitch.
“They were playing Cardiff that day and all I could hear was ‘You Jack b******’ as I had played for Swansea!”
Tommy picked up 17 caps for Scotland between 1973 and 1975 but it didn’t start well.
He said: “I went in collar and tie to the hotel, and the other players are all sat there in jeans.
“Billy Bremner was a bit disrespectful.
“He said ‘Who do you play for?’ but straight away Denis Law was ‘Big man, in you come. Excuse me hen (to the waitress), can you get the big man a cup of tea’ and he asked me to sit with him.
“It’s nice to be important but it’s important to be nice.”
Tommy made his debut in the crucial win over Czechoslovakia at Hampden which took his country to the 1974 World Cup in Germany.
He said: “I played really well against the Czechs. That was the making of me as a Scotland player.
“Nowadays there’s no way I would have got my debut in a game as important as that, you’d have four or five games to see if you could cope.
“I went into the changing rooms and all the jerseys were hanging up.
“I found it really difficult, looking at the number 11 jersey and thinking ‘I’ve done it, after all that hard work’.
“It took me ages before I could put it on, just to pull that Scotland jersey on was unbelievable.”
One of Scotland’s best ever squads, the team was unbeaten but couldn’t get out of the group and exited the World Cup on goal difference.
Tommy came on as a sub against Zaire and played “reasonably well” but wasn’t picked to start against Brazil.
He said: “When you look at the team, I roomed with Peter Cormack and you think how well he played, then you’ve got players like Kenny Dalglish, Joe Jordan and Denis Law.
“He was my hero. In fact when I retired at Merthyr the chairman asked Denis to come and present me with a rose bowl.
“They always say to view your heroes from afar, so you’re not disappointed if you meet them, but not Denis. He was the real business.”
Tommy recalled there was some tension at the time between the players who turned out for teams in Scotland and the ‘Anglo-Scots’ who featured for English clubs.
He said: “The English first division was the biggest stage. In Scotland you had Rangers, Celtic, Aberdeen and Hearts and that was about it.
“I remember Billy Bremner asking John Greig who they were playing at the weekend and he said Rangers were at Partick Thistle.
“He kinda sneered and said ‘We’ve got Liverpool on Saturday and then we’re away to Man United’.
“John said to him ‘Look at my hands. See all those blisters? That’s from carrying all those cups around Hampden’.”
In one match from his career that everyone remembers, Tommy played for Man City against Tottenham in the 1981 FA Cup Final, heading his team ahead before deflecting a free kick into his own net for an equaliser.
They lost the replay when Ricky Villa scored one of the greatest FA Cup goals for Spurs.
Tommy said: “People ask about your favourite or best game and I always say playing for Scotland.
“To play in a cup final, and a lot of great players never get to play in a cup final, you’ve got to be lucky.
“But to play for your country, you’ve got to be good. That’s the difference.
“When I started working in schools I’d introduce myself to the kids, ‘I’m Tommy and I played for Manchester City etc’.
“What would happen is they’d go home and say to their mum or dad ‘Tommy such and such was coaching us’ and they’d say ‘Ask him about the cup final’!
He also played in the USA for Seattle Sounders and in Hong Kong, before returning to star for the likes of Swansea – he made his European debut at the age of 42 in a Cup Winners Cup match against Panathinaikos – and Merthyr Tydfil, where he played until he hung up his boots, aged 46.
“I was always fit. I once went four seasons on the trot without missing a game.”
Tommy stayed involved in football, working with schools and in the community, and had a role with the Welsh FA.
Now retired and living in Thornton, with his Ballingry-born wife of more than 50 years, Irene, he enjoys golf and spending time with his four grandkids.
“The book wasn’t about money, My grandkids never saw me play, they’ve seen old footage and say ‘Grandad, why are you always playing in black and white?’.
“It’s mainly for them.
“The way Kevin did it was brilliant.
“He stayed with me for a week, I took him to where I played at Dundonald, the house I was born in. The lad that stays there now was in the garden, I know him so I explained what we were doing.
“When we left later Kevin said to me ‘I didn’t understand one word that man said’ and I laughed ‘You’re in Fife now’.
“He captured all the good things. I showed him the field that’s got my mother’s engagement ring in it, as they used to go up there and pinch neeps.
“No-one locked their doors, there weren’t any robberies as nobody had anything worth stealing and it was a mining village where everyone helped each other.
“They were great times, I wouldn’t swap them for anything.”
The book is available from bookstores such as Waterstones and from Amazon. Signed copies can also be bought direct from Tommy and by going to the form @dazzlehutch on Twitter.