Rangers legend Billy Simpson dies, aged 87
RANGERS are mourning one of their greatest goal-scorers, Billy Simpson, who passed away yesterday at the age of 87, writes Lindsay Herron.
Belfast-born Simpson, who was a club record signing of £11,500 from Linfield in October 1950, is fifth in the post-war Ibrox list behind Ally McCoist, Derek Johnstone, Ralph Brand and Willie Thornton.
Thornton was the man he idolised as a youngster when he kicked a ball about with his friends in the shadow of Windsor Park and, ironically, he replaced him as Rangers’ No. 9. He scored 163 goals in 239 appearances for the Light Blues in a prolific eight-year period in the 1950s winning three league titles – 1953, 1956 and 1957 – and, famously, the Scottish Cup in 1953.
Even although Simpson had scored 21 goals in the title-winning campaign of that season, strict manager Bill Struth dropped him for the Scottish Cup Final against Aberdeen as he had been sent off in the league match prior to Hampden showdown.
Simpson watched from the Main Stand but the final was drawn 1-1 and he came back for the April 29 replay to score the only goal in front of 113,700 supporters. He thrived under Struth’s successor Scot Symon and was instrumental as Rangers overcame Hearts to win the title in 1956/57.
He was only capped 12 times by Northern Ireland. However, later that year Simpson scored the winning goal at Wembley when he headed the third goal in a 3-2 win over England.
On leaving Rangers in 1959, he moved to Stirling Albion initially and then played, appropriately, for Thornton at Partick Thistle.
Simpson had a short spell with Oxford United but a knee injury ended his career and he returned to Glasgow where he got a job working for Remington Rand in Govan.
He regularly went to Rangers matches in his latter years, with his good friend and former team-mate Johnny Hubbard, until ill-health prevented his attendance,
Rangers will hold a minute’s silence ahead of the February 4 league match with Ross County.