East of Scotland Football Association & League (eosfl.com)
Very sad to hear tonight Tom Allison has passed away.
Not only 'Mr Lothian Thistle' for half a century, but long service to local amateur football and the EOSL, including as chairman. Fair, dedicated - real "football man".
Lothian Thistle football club to mark 50 year anniversary with original founder | Edinburgh News (scotsman.com)
Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale FC will celebrate its 50 year anniversary today, with present and former members travelling from far and wide to attend.
The event, hosted at the Victoria Park Hotel on Ferry Road from 6.30pm, is welcome to all committee members and ex players. Current chairman Tom Allison, who founded the club in 1969, hopes to see as many people as possible there. He has seen almost all of the club’s fixtures in its 50-year journey from an employee football team of Lloyds Finance in 1969 to official member of the Scottish Football Association (SFA), accredited in 2018.
“That was a long time coming,” he says of the SFA membership decision.
Mr Allison, now 73, remembers a few memorable wins over the years, including beating Bo’ness 5-4 to win the East of Scotland Amateur Cup in 1986. While he was often required to substitute, his role has been as organiser rather than player.
“I was the one standing in the wings,” he said, “putting up nets, the corner flag, making sure everything was there and ready before the game," he said.
He also remembers on occasion when the club was losing 5-3 with ten minutes to go in the final of the Lothian Amateur League, and the chairman went get the medals ready to award to the other team.
"When he got to the dressing room it was 5-4, he turned around and it was 5-5, and by the time he got back to the pitch we had won 5-6,” Mr Allison said. "If there is a best way to win, that must be it!”. Mr Allison also remembers the manager of another team calling him to tell him the pitch, which at that stage around 1975 was a local park, was covered in snow. “We just scraped lines in the snow and played anyway,” he said. “We wouldn’t do that nowadays, but back then the most important thing was to get the game played.”
Mr Allison said he ‘just liked football’, so it was an ‘easy decision’ to set up the club. He didn’t think he was good enough at football to play for any of the existing clubs, so preferred to set up his own, with like-minded colleagues. The club originally played in the lower divisions of the Lothian Amateur League under the name Lloyds & Scottish. At that stage there were ‘never enough players’, so Mr Allison as manager was often called upon to substitute. But at the end of the club’s opening season Mr Allison decided to leave his office work at Lloyds. In the end he decided to take his football club with him, re-inventing it with the same players, plus some from Wardie AFC, and a new name: Lothian Thistle Football Club.
Matches were played on various council pitches with no particular home. After the most successful season in 20 years the team won the Lothian Amateur Premier Division for the first time in 1988/89. The club went professional in 1995/96 and joined the East of Scotland league, moving to its current home at Saughton Enclosure in 1999. At this point the club began a long struggle to gain entry to the Scottish Football Association, which would continue until 2018. Mr Allison remembers that in the beginning the amateur club was more social than competitive.
“We played for the enjoyment of it, and the friendship,” he said, I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. But he is proud of the club’s development over the last half-century, which has made it more organised, with a higher quality of players. “It’s not just me, a lot of work has been done by many others to get where we are today,” he said. Tom Gillan, Stewart Lindsay, Ken Smith and Bruce Jeffrey are all players who joined the committee after retirement and who, Mr Allison said, should be recognised for their contribution.
Tom Allison hails his history boys as Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale march on in Scottish Cup - Deadline News
When Tom Allison founded Lothian Thistle in 1969, he never in his wildest dreams imagined that one day they would by eyeing a place in the last 16 of the Scottish Cup.
They plied their trade in front of one man and his dog on local parks in Edinburgh’s Gyle area. They did not even have goal-nets for their kickabouts in the lower reaches of the Lothian Amateur League. Forty-six years on, and the name may have changed following their 2009 merger with Hutchison Vale, but that has done nothing to dampen Allison’s pride after watching his minnows from the capital make history. The 69-year-old, now secretary and honorary chairman of Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale (LTHV), was in attendance for Monday’s 3-0 win over Huntly in the third round replay, despite a persistent chest infection. Wild dogs would not have kept him from Ainslie Park. That triumph tees up a fourth round tie against Lowland League outfit East Kilbride Thistle – ensuring a side from out-with the SPFL will be in the last-16.
“I founded Lothian Thistle back in 1969 and was their manager back then,” recalled Allison. “I was with them in the Lothian Amateur divisions, through to the Caledonian Leagues and then we came into the East of Scotland League. “We used to go down at play at the Gyle and we didn’t even have nets at that time. There were just 11 players – no substitutes – and we had our wee hold-all with water and some medical equipment. Nobody really watched! “It’s been a long journey and, if you had said 46 years ago that this is where we would be, I would have laughed you out of the room. We’ve come a long way. “Monday was the biggest win we’ve ever had and this cup run has been historic. It has been the first time we have beaten a league team, Montrose, and the first time we have beaten the reigning Junior champions, Kelty Hearts, and now we’ve beaten a Highland team. We have certainly set a few benchmarks.”
However, Allison is uncomfortable with the notion of taking any credit following an unforgettable evening at Ainslie Park – borrowed for the night from Edinburgh neighbours Spartans after LTHV’s Saughton Enclosure home was waterlogged.
“It’s not for me to take any credit for what we have achieved,” he continued. “The players and staff have done a wonderful job and worked so hard to raise the bar and get to where we are. They deserve all the credit. “I think Spartans and Whitehill are the only clubs from this area to have done this, so it is a wonderful achievement from the players and the coaches. “We also want to thank Spartans, who allowed us to host the tie against Huntly, and all of the supporters at Ainslie Park who came out and backed us.”
Allison believes the progress made is testament to the success of the partnership between Lothian Thistle and Hutchison Vale, with the latter’s renowned boys club structure proving invaluable. Hutchie have produced the likes of John Collins, Leigh Griffiths, Allan McGregor, Kenny Miller and Ian Murray – and Allison believes the affiliation has given the next generation an even better opportunity to make their mark.
“It has proved very successful and it was an easy decision to make,” he continued. “Hutchie Vale have a terrific record of bringing through young players and give them a real chance. “Teaming up with Lothian Thistle allows those boys a pathway to the East of Scotland League so they are playing senior, competitive football.”
History | Lothian Thistle Football Club (archive.org)
The Full History – Decade by Decade