WICK Thistle treasurer Tommy Sutherland is making a good recovery following a heart attack suffered during last week’s Cafa Division Two fixture against FC Retro – and his team-mates have vowed to give him some vistories to enjoy on his return.
Sutherland had been running the line at Wick’s Upper Bignold Park for the first half and seemed to be his usual self when he handed over linesman duties to chairman Peter Gunn after the interval.
Then, 10 minutes into the second half, Sutherland – without any symptoms or prior warning – collapsed and fell unconscious.
An ambulance crew arrived to take him to Caithness General before a team of medics flew up from Glasgow to assess him. The decision was taken to fly Sutherland down to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in the Govan area of Glasgow where he received specialist care.
Thankfully, the treatment was successful and Sutherland is reported to be breathing on his own and making conversation.
He is expected to remain in hospital for observation for another two weeks.
The incident caused Wick Thistle’s match to be abandoned – as was the game at neighbouring Lower Bignold between Francis Street Club and Thurso Pentland. Wick Thistle returned to action last Monday night against Francis Street Club, with the full blessing of Tommy’s family.
Chairman Peter Gunn said: “The doctors are really pleased with the progress Tommy is making. He is breathing by himself, sitting up and talking.
“It came as a terrible shock to all of us. Tommy is a superfit guy. If you met him, you would think he looks more like a 48-year-old instead of being the age of 58 that he really is.
“He was linesman in the first half of last week’s game and I was to take over at half-time. He didn’t show any indication of what was to happen during and after his shift.
“Apparently he was just sitting down and watching the game when it happened. No warning or anything – it just happened very quickly.
“Everybody, including the players, quickly realised that something was up and we all rushed to him to see what we could do. An ambulance was called and they came round very quickly.
“The paramedics were brilliant with the way they stabilised him. Same with the staff at Caithness General.
“A crew of medics flew up from Glasgow and arrived by midnight. They assessed Tommy and by 3am he was on a flight down to Glasgow.
“I have nothing but praise for the NHS with the care they gave to Tommy and their efforts in ensuring his recovery. All of us at Wick Thistle are extremely grateful to them.”
As for Wick Thistle’s return to competitive football, Gunn said they did so with the Sutherland family’s approval.
He added: “Given that Tommy is Mr Wick Thistle, he wouldn’t have wanted us to postpone any games because of this and his family have given us their full blessing.
“It will be business as usual for Wick Thistle with Gordon MacDonald and Martin Gunn running first-team affairs. Hopefully when Tom is back, we’ll have a few wins to tell him about.”