Talent, as the saying goes, will only get you so far in football.

None more so is this true than in the case of the fan favourite, when ability must dovetail with desire to resonate with those watching in the stands.

Tommy Hutchison, a shooting star that burned briefly but brightly at the start of the 1980s, combined the twin pillars of skill and commitment to wonderful effect down City’s right flank to earn favourite status for a generation of fans at Maine Road.

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He is, of course, best remembered for scoring for both teams in the 100th FA Cup final, when his late own goal took City to a replay that Spurs duly won.

It assured him a place in British football history, but there is more to remember from Hutchison’s time in Manchester, which we recall for the 25th instalment of our City DNA series celebrating the Club’s 125th anniversary season.


That Fife-born Hutchison played 17 times for Scotland, including two appearances at the 1974 World Cup, and was inducted into both the Blackpool and Coventry City Hall of Fames is quite a feat, given he elected against trialling for his secondary school team due to his lack of strength.

But he was always committed, City fans would attest to that.

Unwavering determination characterised his career and, after beginning at his local club, Dundonald Bluebell, he needed it.

Blackburn Rovers, Dundee United and Oldham Athletic all rejected Hutchison before Alloa Athletic gave him a chance.

He grasped the opportunity with both hands and earned himself a move to Blackpool, then managed by the legendary Stan Mortensen.

The seaside was home for five years, with promotion to the first division achieved before ‘The Hutch’ had his first brush, of sorts, with City.

Joe Mercer, the man who ensured the Club ended the 1960s with a glittering array of silverware, came calling as boss of another sky-blue outfit, Coventry City.

It took £140,000 to prise him away from Blackpool, but it proved to be money well spent.

Hutchison spent nine years at Highfield Road, playing more than 300 games and won the Club’s Player of the Season prize a record three times.

His form in the West Midlands prompted John Bond, recently installed as manager of a City side languishing in the relegation zone in Division One, to make the then 33-year-old his first signing in October 1980.

Hutchison joined for £47,000, alongside Coventry team-mate Bobby McDonald, with Gerry Gow arriving from Bristol City a week later to complete a Scottish triumvirate which galvanised the struggling side.

Bond’s team had won their first game in 13 attempts three days before Hutch’s debut, a 2-1 win over Brighton and Hove Albion.

And if there were any doubts about the 30-something, gangly winger with the flowing locks and moustache to match, who had spent much of his career in the lower echelons of the first division, they were soon dispelled.

Never blessed with great pace, Hutchison had worked hard in his youth to develop a trickery which would bamboozle the defenders he was unable to outrun.

Time and time again he did just that on City’s right wing, before delivering crosses with unnerving accuracy from which Dennis Tueart and Kevin Reeves profited.

City lost just twice in his first fifteen games and would only taste defeat a further five times in the league that season

The Scot was at the heart of much of our best play and slowly but surely we moved clear of the bottom three to a comfortable 12th place finish.

Job done then, but for the small matter of the FA Cup.

It was competition’s centenary season and City, having first lifted the famous trophy in 1903/04, would reach the final.

Hutchison played in every round as City shocked league runners-up and UEFA Cup winners-to-be, Ipswich Town with a 1-0 win in the last four, and at Wembley, the rangy winger took centre stage.

The game was 30 minutes old when the oldest player on display at the famous stadium belied his years to bullet a diving header past Spurs’ keeper Milija Aleksic from Ray Ranson’s cross.

The 150th FA Cup final goal at Wembley, it had commitment and quality in equal measure, everything Hutchison’s time at Maine Road epitomised.

He would have been City’s Wembley hero until fate cruelly intervened.

Gow’s foul on Ardilles saw Glenn Hoddle standing over the ball 20-yards from goal with 11 minutes left on the clock.

Huthchison, to his credit, had the foresight to predict the Spurs playmaker would elect to curl the ball into the right side of the net left unguarded by Joe Corrigan and retreated from the wall as Hoddle shaped to shoot.

We’ll never know whether the effort was destined for the back of the net. Hoddle’s strike diverted off Hutchison’s shoulder and into the far-left corner, completely wrong-footing Corrigan.

Placing his hands on his knees before moving to a crouch and putting his head in his hands, Hutch’s dejection was visible.

He was substituted in extra-time but would go again in the replay five days later to no avail, as Ricky Villa’s heroics won the Cup for Spurs.

He returned the following season, playing 28 times before departing midway through the 1981/82 campaign for slightly different surroundings.

Hong Kong has never been a typical destination for top-flight footballers, over 30 or otherwise, but that was where Hutchison headed, to play for Bulova.

It began a somewhat nomadic end to his career.

Two years at Burnley followed, before six at Swansea City, where he still holds the record as the Club’s oldest-ever player, aged 43 years and 172 days.

He didn’t stop there, winding down his career at Merthyr Tydfil in the Southern League before officially retiring in 1994, just shy of a 30-year playing career.


Hutchison made more than 1000 first-team appearances in his career and made his European debut with Swansea shortly before his 42nd birthday.