Obituary: Tribute to big man called Tiny

Tommy Jamieson, 1940-2008

MANY, many people throughout both Shetland and Orkney were saddened last week when they heard of the death of Tommy Jamieson from Cairnfield Road in Lerwick. He was 68.

Away from a life of hard work and raising a large family, Tommy (or Tiny as he was affectionately known to everyone) was one of Shetland’s best-known and best-loved sporting stars.

Tiny had two main strings to his sporting bow. He was one of Shetland’s best ever footballers and badminton players. He represented his county at both and was revered in both Shetland and Orkney as a fierce opponent and a true friend.

From an early age Tiny was seen as a special football talent. As a product and important member of the “Charlie Moar school of football and other social activities” he was first and foremost a died-in-the-wool Celtic man and, due to his obvious stature, allied to an amazing fleetness of foot, he influenced all around him at the club.

At the tender age of 16, along with Unst’s Brian Hunter, he represented senior Shetland for the first time in 1956 against Orkney and went on to win two other caps at senior level. He also won three junior caps against Orkney and I was honoured to play alongside him in both 1955 and 1957. I make no excuse for including the 1957 team for a reason – as you can see, to be “trapped” between a relatively big Geordie “Sugar” Sales and a huge Tom “Tiny” Jamieson did nothing to promote any “macho” image I might have had!

As an Anderson Institute player, I remember playing against Celtic and praying that Tiny would not “faa on tap a’ me”. If he had, someone would have had to sweep me up! We were of course initially enemies on the field of play who became firm friends.

In badminton circles Tiny was also a huge talent. He won many local championship titles in singles, men’s doubles and mixed doubles, representing Shetland 14 times during his illustrious career. George Burgess, also a St Clements Hall and Shetland stalwart both on and off the court, remembers Tiny as a big man with a big heart.

George said: “Tiny was a player whose stature enabled him to be influential on and off the court but he had incredible finesse as well and was a man whose cool temperament allowed him and his partners to rise to the big occasion throughout his career.”

My own badminton memories of Tiny were of marvelling at how such a big man could be so light on his feet and have such a deft touch all round the court. Every opponent, of course, knew what the problem would be of putting the shuttlecock above Tiny’s head – his power did the rest and it was usually inevitable how the rally would end!

Tiny’s sporting career ended prematurely when ill-health kick­ed in around 1979 and he battled adversity for nigh on 30 years. The big man with the big heart proved his determination not to give in easily without a big fight. The expression “gentle giant” is often bandied around but Tiny deserved that title more than anyone else, in my opinion.

He was a true friend to all who knew him, holding firm views and an infectious sense of humour.

I personally am proud to have known Tiny for so long and to have been able to visit him right to the end of a famous era. Also through our football and badminton books we have in some way made Tiny immortal – he will never be forgotten.

Sincere sympathy is extended to Marjory and all the Jamieson family.Jim Peterson


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