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Tributes paid to former NI football star Billy Simpson

By Staff Reporter

Linfield and Rangers Football Clubs were officially represented at the funeral in Glasgow yesterday of Windsor and Ibrox legend Billy Simpson, who died last month, aged 87.

The former Northern Ireland centre forward of the 1950s era was described by Rangers Chaplain The Rev Stuart McQuarrie as "an absolute clean living man, and a fantastic footballer".

Billy's wife Margaret, sons Brian and Colin, and daughter Maureen were present among the several hundred mourners who gathered for the service at Linn Crematorium in south Glasgow.

Rangers director John Gilligan was joined by Linfield chairman Roy McGivern and vice chairman Billy Kennedy in paying tribute to Mr Simpson, who was described as a very modest and unassuming sportsman.

Former Rangers players Davie Wilson, Johnny Hubbard, Peter McCloy and John Brown were also among the mourners, along with Alan McGraw who played and managed Greenock Morton and had a year with Linfield in 1969/70.

A nephew of Billy's, Graeme Simpson from east Belfast, spoke fondly about his uncle's footballing prowess - 93 goals in 143 games for Linfield, 163 goals in 239 games for Rangers as well as 12 caps for Northern Ireland. In his Linfield career, Billy won an Irish League and two Irish Cup winners medals.

With Rangers he won three Scottish League medals and one Scottish Cup winners medal.

Long after his playing career ended in 1959, Billy remained a very popular personality with both Rangers and Linfield fans.

From when he was transferred from Linfield to Rangers in 1950 for a record fee of £11,500, Billy lived in Glasgow but he remained an Ulsterman at heart who was intensely proud of his Donegal Road family roots in Belfast. Billy was also part of the Northern Ireland squad from 1951 to 1959, scoring five goals in 12 appearances for his country.

He was included in Peter Doherty's World Cup squad of 1958 when Northern Ireland reached the quarter-finals in Sweden, but did not feature due to injury. He left Rangers in 1959 for Stirling Albion and also enjoyed brief spells with Partick Thistle and Oxford United before retiring in 1961.

He then worked as a joiner in the Govan shipyard in Glasgow right up to the 1980s. Last December both Linfield and Rangers honoured Billy with a special tribute event in Glasgow.

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