The Final Goodbye
Dad passed away on Tuesday the 17th of December 2019, with his funeral taking place on Friday the 10th of January 2020.
There was a great turn out for dad, Carleton Cemetery was full of family, friends and ex-football team mates.
Below are the speeches from the family and his great friend Tony Green and also the two poems.
Usually we would introduce mum a little further down the line… but this is a slightly unusual story, as mum and dad were born in Musselburgh on the same street just 8 days apart in August 1939. We don’t actually know when they first met but mum does have an early recollection of dad peeing over their garden fence, with Granny Kerr ‘shooing’ him away with dad responding by pretending to shoot our gran……… Several Times!
After a long pursuit lasting over 20 years, Dad eventually married the love of his life Irene. Dad had four children, John, Gordon, Kerry and Tom. Eight Grandchildren, John, Natalie, Jaime, Casey, Molly, William, Robyn and Kent with three Great Grandchildren, Harper, Hallie and Kendall.
A tough but loving start to life at 14 Links Street, Musselburgh, a two-bedroom ground floor terraced house with an outside toilet. Dad had two brothers, Edwin and John and a younger sister Janette. They lost their dad when dad was only 5, fortunately they had a great mum and special Aunties and Uncles that pulled together contributing greatly to their upbringing.
The Fisherrow links was on their doorstep and where all the local children played and where Dad along with his two brothers first started playing football (and probably fighting) – a tough school to say the least.
From leaving school Dad joined Gibson & Milne and trained as an apprentice joiner for 5 years – he always liked telling us he was a fully qualified joiner. To be fair he was pretty good and in the early days of marriage he did quite a lot of repairs and renovation work in their first few homes.
One story that Dad told us about during his time as an apprentice was about him and John running the few miles to work every day. (John also worked at Gibson & Milne), John being a couple of years older would give our Dad a head start, quite a big one he admitted and at the same spot every day, John would pass and tap him on the back and say ‘keep going son’, as you can imagine Dad had a few choice words for him.
As a youngster Dad also played Rugby union, the sport suited dads committed and slightly mad attitude, his uncle Jack had played for Scotland and there was a chance he was going to follow in his footsteps. After his football career ended Dad even played a few games for Fylde Rugby club. He always said that rugby was his favourite game, but there was no real money to be made and not much in terms of media headlines.
At the same time his two older brothers had embarked on their own professional football careers, seeing them progressing well, getting paid and their names in the papers, Dad decided that football was the game for him after all. Out of the three of them Dad said that his oldest brother Edwin could have been the best.
He started his football career with youth side Bonnyrigg Rose before moving to Scottish League side Raith Rovers, where he scored 11 goals in 30 games, his career there was interrupted by two years’ National Service. He then moved on to St Mirren, where he scored 20 goals in 35 League games before being transferred to Heart of Midlothian, where he played 45 League & Cup games, scoring 41 goals, earning him the title of ‘Goal-a-Game White’.
Whilst at Hearts there was another family tragedy with the loss of his brother John who was playing for Tottenham at the time, Dad ended up signing for Spurs so he could play for them in his brothers Memorial Match.
Further moves followed to Aberdeen and Crystal Palace with a final move for the family with dad signing for Blackpool on March 11th, 1968. Dad had 2 more moves before retiring through injury with Bury and Crewe Alexandra, finally finishing his career on 241 games with 100 goals. He continued in football with a short spell as manager of Fleetwood Town then becoming a Director of Blackpool for 12 years. He even stood in as Caretaker Manager at Blackpool for 7 games.
After his retirement from the professional ranks he continued to play in the local Sunday leagues as well as the Wednesday night 5’aside league – incredible really, drinking till all hours on a Saturday night and then getting up to get kicked about on a Sunday morning, he must have been mad. We can’t quite remember but we’re sure he was still playing in his mid-fifties.
After his playing career, mum and dad went into the hotel business in Blackpool. Their first hotel was that run down, the estate agent actually pulled them to one side and asked if they were sure they wanted to go ahead. But the fearless couple had no hesitation and bought the Silver How Hotel on Blackpool promenade. Several years of hard work passed (we think mum might have worked the hardest) before they sold and moved down South Shore to the Delton Hotel. This was a short stay resulting in their final move to the Boston.
The Boston was a great period for all the family. The Tranent and Musselburgh side of the family visited regularly. On one occasion his older brother Edwin was staying in the hotel and came down to dinner wearing a new suit, (dad was very impressed) …… until he realised, he’d got into Dads living quarters and pinched one of HIS suits. Mum worked hard and Dad enjoyed life to the full. Lifelong friends were made, and great times were had. We often reminisced and laughed about these days with mum and dad.
In 1988 the Boston was sold and Mum and Dad went onto buy a property portfolio from his fellow Blackpool director Gordon Bloor. That should have been job done, however Dad was always looking to push on with something more adventurous and so they bought a town centre property which they converted into a pub and aptly named it Whites No9 bar. Unfortunately things did not go to plan and the business was sold. Dad retired in the late 90’s, he never complained about how things ended up and his outlook on life remained as positive as ever.
He never lost his competitive spirit and spent years playing golf at North Shore, winning a few competitions along the way. He spent a lot of time at North Shore and made some great friends – every day was a competition whether on the golf course or on the snooker table (and sometimes the fruit machine).
Dad was one of the most generous people you could ever wish to meet; he would give his last penny to a stranger…. Some would say generous to a fault …… (especially mum) …… but that was the man!
We would like to thank Mum for being his best friend and looking after him, especially these last few years when he’d not been well.
We miss you but you will always be our inspiration and will always be in our thoughts.
Finally, thank you for being you. Thank you for always being there for us and thank you for the lifetime of memories that we will always cherish.
Dad…. We love you!
THE AMAZING, TALENTED TOM WHITE
Tom was one of the most amazing and unique people I had the pleasure of knowing. With a professional football career spanning many years, he was signed by Blackpool Football Club near the end of the l967-68 season by another great – the late Stan Mortensen – who always said he bought Tom to get Blackpool to promotion to the top division. Despite winning the last 7 games, we missed out on goal average. If promotion had been won, Tom would have been remembered as one of the main players responsible for this achievement, but alas it was not to be.
He started his early career at Raith Rovers, but this was interrupted by National Service and then he moved to St Mirren, then to Hearts where he had great success, almost winning the League, but losing out to Kilmarnock on the last day of the season, playing alongside Willie Wallace who went on to win the European Cup with Celtic, scoring a total of 48 goals between them. In the same season, he went to Crystal Palace before joining the squad at Bloomfield Road where he is still remembered for scoring the winning goal in Blackpool’s 1-0 defeat of Manchester City in the League Cup.
His football career came to a close with him joining Bury and Crewe Alexander in later years, playing a total of 241 league games – scoring an amazing 100 league goals – very impressive!
As a person, he was great to play with, always being protective of the younger players such as myself. If anyone kicked or threatened us, (which was quite often), he would shout “leave it to me son”. He had the knack of being able to trample over a player at the same time as making it look like an accident – always my friend – the Gentle Giant of a man.
He could be apologising whilst standing on someone’s fingertips;
He could help players up while squeezing their hands tightly;
It’s a good job VAR was not around then!
Against Derby County there was a goal mouth scuffle and their goalkeeper finished with his head between Tom’s hands and Reg Mathews squealed. I saw Tom was giving him quick punches. As usual he apologised, got up and explained later “It was too good an opportunity to miss”.
My friend Tom was always larger than life. On his first “Lads Night Out” at the Sands Casino, there was a lot of banter and someone said Morty had been silly buying him to replace Ray Charnley to which Tom challenged that person to a fight outside. It won’t come as a surprise to anyone who knew him well, that the person he challenged was Brian London – the ex Commonwealth and British Heavyweight Boxing Champion.
Around the late 1960’s early 1970’s most older players had businesses and it was around this time that Tom started to become concerned about the future. He decided to go into the hotel trade, first buying the Silver How Hotel (with not a lot of capital), in later years ending up as proprietor of the Boston Hotel on the Promenade. The Boston and White family proved to be a great combination.
It was around this time I caddied for him in the first l8 of a 36 hole Captain’s competition at North Shore Golf Club. A skilled golfer, after 18 holes he was in 2nd place. I went back later and he had finished about 15th and he blamed me! It was my fault for leaving him on his own for the second 18 holes – mind you by then he had had a few courtesy of a detour via the bar.
He had a great love of Blackpool F.C. and when he was riding high, he became a Director which involved him spending a great deal of time, effort and money at his beloved club. He had never trusted Owen Oyston and when he bought the club, it came as no surprise to anyone that Tom was asked to leave. Tom always said that in the long run the Oyston’s would be a disaster for BFC – he proved to be right many years later. Unique yet again – no one else has the accolade of playing, managing and being a director of Blackpool Football Club.
I said at the start that Tom was amazing and unique. He was also kind, caring, generous and great company who had a zest for life and enjoyed it to the full, until recent years when illness took its toll. One of the nicest men I have had pleasure to grow up with and one who I will always call my friend. He loved family, football and golf (although sometimes I am not sure in which order!) Throughout his life he always took great pride in Irene and his children/grandchildren and their achievements.
I am really sorry that I cannot be with you today to join in the celebrations of his much lived and much loved life but I have great memories of our (often mischievous) times together – both on and off the playing field.
Rest in Peace Tom – I will have a drink to celebrate my memories of Tom tonight. Thank you for everything and in particular being my friend.
Life Is Like A Round Of Golf
Life is like a round of golf
With many a turn and twist.
But the game is much too sweet and short
To curse the shots you’ve missed.
Sometimes you’ll hit it straight and far
Sometimes the putts roll true.
But each round has its errant shots
And troubles to play through.
So always swing with courage
No matter what the lie.
And never let the hazards
Destroy the joy inside.
And keep a song within your heart
Give thanks that you can play.
For the round is much too short and sweet
To let it slip away.
Speak Of Me
Speak of me as you have always done.
Remember the good times, laughter, and fun.
Share the happy memories we’ve made.
Do not let them wither or fade.
I’ll be with you in the summer’s sun
And when the winter’s chill has come.
I’ll be the voice that whispers in the breeze.
I’m peaceful now, put your mind at ease.
I’ve rested my eyes and gone to sleep,
But memories we’ve shared are yours to keep.
Sometimes our final days may be a test,
But remember me when I was at my best.
Although things may not be the same,
Don’t be afraid to use my name.
Let your sorrow last for just a while.
Comfort each other and try to smile.
I’ve lived a life filled with joy and fun.
Live on now, make me proud of what you’ll become.