Tributes paid to the Iron Man

HE was renowned as one of the greatest players ever to wear a maroon shirt.

Tributes today flooded in to John Cumming, part of the famous Hearts side of the 1950s, who died at the weekend at the age of 78.

Former teammates, adversaries and fans joined political figures to pay tribute to the "Iron Man".

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In his autobiography, The Real Mackay, legendary midfielder Dave Mackay named Cumming as the greatest Hearts player he'd ever encountered.

He said: "Everybody talks about the great trio of Alfie Conn, Willie Bauld and Jimmy Wardhaugh. For me it was always John Cumming. He never had a bad game. It was either a fairly good game or an excellent game.

"Everything he did was perfect and he had great stamina. I was glad when he was on the pitch because I knew I wouldn't have to work as hard. Whenever he didn't play I knew I had a tough game ahead.

"He was an example to everybody who played football. He was always the hard man on the pitch but he expressed that through his style of play rather than verbally. He was always nice and calm when everyone else was getting over-excited. He would never raise his voice to shout at another player.

"He was a lovely guy and I was so sad when I heard he had died."

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Cumming suffered from Alzheimer's and spent his last years in a Carluke nursing home.

His 1956 cup-winning teammate Bobby Kirk, 84, is sadly also suffering from dementia and was unable to pass on a personal tribute last night. However, his son Robert Jr, said: "Normally, dad would be the first up to pay his respects. He and John were great friends for a long time and the whole family are saddened by his death."

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Despite his illustrious Hearts career, Cumming only received nine caps for Scotland.

Hibs and Scotland legend Lawrie Reilly, 80, much preferred playing alongside Cumming than against him.

He said: "I stayed well out of his road! He didn't look particularly well built but it was all muscle.

"He was a strong, wholehearted player and such a fit lad. He wasn't capped nearly as much as he deserved, which you have to put down to the Glasgow bias. When you picked John Cumming in your team, you knew you were getting a player who would give 100 per cent.

"It's just a shame he played in the wrong colour jersey, but I guess we all end up playing in the same colours in the end.

"It's so sad to lose Jimmy Brown (influential Scottish keeper who died last month] and John Cumming in the space of a few weeks. I just hope there's still room for me up there in the Heaven eleven."

Some of Hearts' well-known fans also paid tribute today, including Pentlands MSP David McLetchie, who watched Cumming score the first goal he ever saw at Tynecastle.

He said: "My uncle took me to my first Hearts game against Third Lanark in 1961. Third Lanark had a very good team at that time but, of course, so did we, and we beat them 1-0 with a penalty."

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The records show that Cumming scored that winning penalty at Tynecastle on April 8, 1961.

Cumming will also be remembered for his heroics during the 1956 Scottish Cup final, soldiering on with blood in his eye following a horror head wound.

Mr McLetchie added: "Everybody talks about the mark he made in the '56 final, the injury he sustained and how he carried on. There were no substitutes in those days. His reputation rightly earned him the nickname 'The Iron Man'.

"He was one of those masterful midfield players and I will certainly take the opportunity to pay tribute at the next home game."

Lothians MSP George Foulkes called Cumming "one of the real gentlemen of football", adding: "He was loyal. He played for the shirt and for the club in a way that all the fans really appreciated."

David Beveridge, 52, of the Robertson's Bar Supporters Club, was born the day Hearts lifted the Scottish Cup in 1956.

He said: "Cumming was a hero to my dad. I wish we had him in the team now."

A club statement added: "His contribution to the Heart of Midlothian Football Club was outstanding. As one of the greatest players ever to wear a maroon shirt, John richly deserved his testimonial in 1980. Our thoughts go to his family at this sad time."

'In every sense he was a man and sportsman'

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READERS have left a stream of tributes to John Cumming since the news of his death broke on the Evening News website.

Fans told how the man with "maroon blood" lived up to the "legend" status he enjoyed around Tynecastle.

Remember John Cumming well, true gent, great player as well, sadly missed...

Mixu 6-2

I was lucky enough to see him play often and he was every bit as tough as the Iron Man tag implied. Seen him play with blood gushing from a head wound and through any number of injuries - no subs in those days.

Weel Kent Jambo

I met John a few times and sat at one or two games with him. If the players today had a heart half the size of John's we would win everything. RIP.


My heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of John Cumming. Now and again, and it only is, now and again, someone comes along who is worthy to merit the title "legend", in footballing terms. John Cumming is one of them. He was Hearts through and through, he was considerate, and happy to give of his time. You just could not imagine this guy rolling about wincing after the lightest of challenges...why?...because in every sense he was a MAN and a sportsMAN.


Used to stand outside Tynecastle during the dinner break at school to catch a player or two and ask for autographs. John was trainer then and every time he would go back into the office and get a mass produced team photo and bring it back out for us. Never once did he even let out a sigh just a smile and say "alright lads there you are". Great man. He gave me his old Hearts scarf once and I took it along to Hampden for the Gretna cup final for luck, glad I did it was a close run thing in the end! I'll cherish that scarf till the day I die. RIP John, sincerely one of the nicest people I have ever met.


A true Hearts Legend. On behalf of many Hibs supporters I pay tribute to one of the greats in the game.


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There has never been a trainer in the last 40 years that has come on a pitch and attended a player as fast as John Cumming. He could have given Ronaldo ten yards of a start over forty if they were both carrying bags and sponges soaked with water.


He'd run through a brick wall for HMFC and was a player with Hearts in his heart.

Motherwell Jambo


• Born: March 17 1930, Carluke

• Died: December 6 2008, Carluke

• Height: 5'9"

• Club History: YMCA Football, Castlehill Colliery, Carluke Rovers, Heart of Midlothian


• First Game: Dec 30, 1950

• Last Game: May 9, 1967

• Games: 612

• Goals: 58

• International Caps: 9


• Scottish League Championship: 1957-58, 1959-60

• League Cup: 1954-55, 1958-59, 1959-60, 1962-63

• Scottish Cup: 1955-56

• Inducted into the Hearts Hall of Fame 2006