The club was saddened to learn of the death, on 17 December, of former centre-forward Tommy White. Although he played only two seasons for the club, Tommy made a fine impression and his splendid record of 44 goals in 58 competitive appearances ranks him among the most effective marksmen ever to have worn a maroon shirt.
Tommy was born on 12 August 1939 at Links Street in Musselburgh, and he became a prominent attacker with the local juvenile club, Musselburgh Union. He played on trial for Berwick Rangers, but was not signed and Tommy had a spell in the junior grade with Bonnyrigg Rose. He was subsequently recruited by Raith Rovers at the end of May 1958.
He made a slow start at Kirkcaldy, due to his two years of National Service with the KOSB at Berwick and in Germany. Tommy played Army representative football and then in 1961, he started to make his mark as a goal scorer with Raith Rovers. He then signed for St.Mirren in October 1962 and was secured by Hearts in November 1963 for £8,000. This was a rebuilding period for the Hearts Manager, Tommy Walker, and Tommy White added real power to his attacking options.
Being almost six-feet tall and weighing around 12st, Tommy’s hard-hitting and industrious play endeared him to the supporters and kept opponents on edge. They feared his industry and shooting strength, and he certainly made an impressive start. In only his third game for Hearts, Tommy scored two goals in a 3-0 win over Rangers at Ibrox.
In his first season, the new striker hit 29 goals in 34 competitive games. Not surprisingly, in February 1964 the big attacker took part in the Scottish International Trial at Ibrox. His strike rate was outstanding and might have been greater, but for a month on the sidelines, after being badly injured in a car crash at Wallyford in March 1964.
Tommy returned to help Hearts finish fourth in the League and win its Summer Cup Section. Hearts had to withdraw from the knock-out stages of the Summer Cup to play in the New York Soccer League where Tommy was again on the mark.
Sadly, in July 1964, his brother, the Scottish International, John White, was killed by lightening on a golf course. After this tragedy, Tommy took some time to fully recover his form, but in November that year, he was proud to play for his brother’s old team, Tottenham Hotspur, in a memorial match against a Scotland XI.
In 1964-65, Hearts lost the League Championship, but only on the old goal average system. to Kilmarnock. Tommy scored 13 goals in the 18 League games that he played. However, he lost his place in the team through illness near the end of the campaign. Perhaps a fully-fit Tommy White might have tipped the scales in Hearts’ favour.
The big striker went to Aberdeen in May 1965 in an exchange deal for Don Kerrigan. Tommy was a regular marksman with the “Dons” and subsequently Crystal Palace, Blackpool, Bury, Crewe Alexandra and Fleetwood Town. He later became a successful hotelier in Blackpool and a director of his local club for twelve years. Tommy even acted as caretaker manager for seven games in 1990.
Nevertheless, Tommy White was a Hearts supporter and our sincere condolences are extended to his family and friends.