Obituary: A fond farewell to Willie a’ Tip, a Whalsay football ambassador
Many people in Shetland have been saddened by the death recently of Whalsay man Willie Hutchison. Willie a’ Tip, or “Tippy” as he was affectionately known to so many, passed away peacefully at home shortly after he and his wife Kitty celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary.
I first got to know Willie when I signed for Spurs in 1961 which was the year of one of Willie’s greatest sporting triumphs. In their first entry in the Parish Cup Whalsay defeated Sandwick 4-3 in the final.
Willie was Whalsay’s goalie that night, doing his own job well but also expertly organising and directing his defence ahead of him.
While in his prime as a Bevin Boy in the coal mines in Fife his ability on the football field was quickly spotted by one of the top junior sides in Scotland, Blairhall Star. Willie had great memories of his playing days there alongside one of Scotland’s future stars Charlie “Legs” Fleming. He had a trial for Dunfermline but on demob from the Gordon Highlanders at the end of World War II he chose to return to Shetland.
Willie’s involvement with Whalsay Football Club continued throughout his active life as selector, president, secretary and full-time supporter. I always enjoyed his company on the touchline and elsewhere.
Willie was the last survivor of Whalsay’s management “gang” of past years who dedicated a huge amount of their time to organising football in the isle. To them football was a serious business but equally important was socialising with the enemy after the game, win or lose. It was fitting that among family flowers at the funeral was one from Whalsay Football Club.
Many people would like me to pass on sympathy to Kitty, assuring her that that he will be long remembered by his many friends throughout Shetland.
James P Peterson