|About Sinky |
Sinky was born on the 4th November 1962 to Charlie & Jean Pentland. Jean’s maiden name was Sinclair so that’s where he got his name. He and his brother Scott lived at home with their parents for almost all their lives and at first, they stayed in Whitson Road, not a million miles from Tynecastle and Sinky went to Stenhouse Primary and Tynecastle Secondary. He got one O level in English as a C pass. By all reports, Sinky seems to have discovered his role in life early and at school he was famous for being the class clown, fighting with his brother, and getting the belt: his hand was out on more than one occasion.
He played football for the school, although - by his own admission - not very well. I am told that he was disappointed to find that he only made it into the second team, and when he asked why, the reply came that he was only in the seconds because there wasn’t a thirds…
Of course Sinky was already a Hearts fan, although in those days he was under the impression that the games only lasted 15 minutes. Back then, they’d often open the gates ten minutes before the end to let the crowd out so that was when Sinky went in…
When Sinky left school he became a panel beater with Alexander’s. He served his time and passed his city and guilds but he had a change of career and went into the Royal Mail where he was to stay for the next 23 years of his life, and he was very proud of his time there. Mind you, given his fondness for having a pint before work it’s amazing he managed to stay there so long and that’s at least partly thanks to his good friend Davey Anderson.
Sinky’s playing career continued into adulthood. After the school, he played for Longstone hearts. One day they went down to the Jewel to play Edina Hibs, and Sinky’s match report was a model of accuracy and brevity. As he put it, “We got humped about six two, but I managed to kick a few of them”.
As a teenager, Sinky was a regular at the home games, and as he got older he travelled on all the buses; he went with the Pivot, with Longstone, The Cross Keys, Auld Worthies, Luckies, Robbo's Loyal and Dickens – back in the day Callum Anderson ran those buses, got the money, put the bums on the seats and he told me that what he remembered of Sinky then was that he was just a happy wee Jambo.
On the bus he was always lively, always started the singing always had a carry out – he was the life and soul. People liked Sinky because he had a brilliant personality. He had a talent for language and he gave everyone a nickname. His best friends were Daftie, Numptie and Empty Heid. He was a comic genius, straddling the thin line between inspiration and insanity.
Sinky was very polite – he always said ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ before and after he told people to Eff off, for example. And I think that should be remembered…
As you can see by the tracks featured the 'Mix Tape' of his favourite songs (available via the menu bar), Sinky’s taste in music was wide and diverse. He went to concerts as varied as Stiff Little Fingers and Kylie Minogue. Kylie was on at the SECC so Sinky went through and true to form, he got pissed, missed the bus, slept on a bench in the station all night and got the first bus back to Edinburgh in the morning.
There was a book written a while back by a Hibs fan who went undercover and pretended to be a Hearts fan for a season and went to all the games and all the bars and mixed with the real Jambos and in it somewhere, he writes how he was dying to meet Sinky, and eventually that great day dawned. Sinky was wearing a “Free Blackie The Donkey” badge, A Red Hand of Ulster and a Shania Twain t-shirt. Politically correct he was not.
But Sinky took nothing seriously – apart from the game; Bill Shankly’s famous lines summed him up: "Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that."
There are hundreds of stories about Sinky. Those of you who spend any time online will have been to the Kickback site, and seen no fewer than 22 pages of both tributes to him and stories about him. A few are too good not to mention... Like seeing Sinky doing his rendition of The Pussycat Dolls, dance moves included, on a Corporation Bus, singing “Don’t You Wish Your Boyfriend Was Hot Like Me?”
A friend from the post office shared the following tale about Sinky... "I recalled a few incidents at work when the wee guy turned up pissed. One Monday afternoon his union rep had to go to the shift managers office to defend him which turned into one of his funniest moments. He was asked if he had been drinking to which he replied no, he was asked two more times and denied saying it was from the night before ( he was melted ) the shift manager went through this for another 3/4 minutes and eventually he admitted that he had 1 pint on his way in ,after adding another 2 pints onto the answers he was asked how many he really had drunk and his reply was I don't know as I had been in the pub since 6am and was not counting, he was suspended from duty and was informed that he would have to come in the next day for a fact finding interview he replied in his usual style and said I don't mind being fxxxing suspended but I'm not coming in on my day off... The manager burst out laughing and told him it was Tuesday the next day, needless to say he got off with a warning and never done it again until the following week. That was Sinky... A great wee man who is sorely missed in the mail centre."
Every team has star players. Some teams are lucky enough to have star fans too. Sinky was one. No doubt about that at all
The mid 90’s weren’t a happy time for Sinky. His Dad died in 1994, his mother Jean died within a year and his brother Scott passed away the year after; the three deaths one after another hit Sinky very hard. Ten years ago, he moved in with his auntie in Saughton mains terrace, and when she too died a few years later, he carried on living there.
Outside football, singing and drinking, Sinky had few interests. He did take an interest in European Art Films and Photographic Magazines, of which he amassed a considerable collection which is now in the care of Ian Binning His proudest moment was the one you would expect, when Hearts beat Rangers 2-1 to win the Scottish cup in 1998, but outside of football, he was also very proud of the recognition he got from the Royal Mail for 20 years service.
As you know, Sinky became ill in July; he’d had a sore back for a while and it got worse; at first the doctor diagnosed sciatica but eventually he was taken by ambulance to hospital where he was diagnosed with stomach & spine cancer. Only Sinky could have turned that into a joke. While he was waiting to find out what the tests revealed, he said he was “awaiting the results of his autopsy” rather than his biopsy. When he got the results, they were nothing to laugh about. His cancer had spread to his lungs and his liver and so he left the hospital and was admitted to the Marie Curie Hospice at Fairmilehead. The word went about and soon he had floods of visitors.
Now I don’t know if many of you normally spend much time in hospices – I hope not – but I know that because of Sinky, many of you took the time to go and see him there, and he was so grateful that you did.
He was a good patient to visit. He was funny and happy particularly if he had a can of beer – I didn’t know you were allowed to drink in the hospice but apparently you can. He was very humbled and couldn’t believe it and on more than one occasion he said “Why are they all coming to see me?” after a while a ritual developed and everyone who came to see him would be photographed and stuck in a book and when everyone had gone away at the end of visiting hour, Sinky would sit there and look through it. He was appreciative of every single visitor.
The manager and the assistant manager and the coach all came in to see him, and of course so many of the players and the fans in the street. People who couldn’t go in person sent him cards, and he got messages from Canada, the USA Sweden and Cyprus.
You will all have read the lovely article about him in the Evening News by their chief reporter, Sandra Dick. Very unusually for a journalist, I thought, before she went to see him, she asked Callum if Sinky needed anything, and could she bring him something to make him feel better? She was probably thinking grapes or fruit, and I think she was surprised to be told that what Sinky would really appreciate would be two cans of Tennents Lager.
On the 4th of November Sinky had his first and his 48th birthday party at the hospice where they gave him the use of the large hall between 4 in the afternoon and 8 in the evening. The staff were probably a little surprised when a professional singer set up, alongside a Karaoke machine, a big screen TV and 24 cases of beer. 120 guests turned up and the party only finished at 11.30 when one of the staff came down, going “Right Sinky! Bed! Now!” And as he was wheeled away, Sinky was singing the hearts song, tears of joy running down his face – it was the happiest day of his life.
Sinky was a son a brother, a cousin and a godfather. He was also a Postie, a Jambo, a friend and a colleague and he was proud of every one of those things. As you can see, he will be greatly missed. He worked his way up to being a legend and he leaves a rich legacy. As part of it, there will now be a Sinclair Pentland young player of the year award at Hearts.