Belfast Telegraph

Linfield and Rangers set to hail goalscoring legend Simpson

By Gareth Fullerton

Linfield and Rangers will honour a former striker who donned the blue jerseys of both clubs at a special tribute event in Glasgow tonight. Billy Simpson was a prolific forward at Windsor Park during the 1940s before earning a big-money move to Ibrox in 1950.

The proud Donegall Road native - who now lives in Glasgow with his family - was also capped 12 times by Northern Ireland.

Billy will be the guest of honour at Ibrox tonight, where former players and team mates will gather to pay tribute to a forward whose superb goalscoring exploits saw him become a fans' favourite.

The 86-year-old - who celebrates his birthday on Monday - grew up in the shadow of Windsor Park.

He scored twice on his Linfield debut in a 5-0 win against Cliftonville on March 24, 1947. It was a sign of things to come, with Billy going on to score 93 goals in 143 senior appearances for the Blues, winning back-to-back titles in 1949 and 1950 and lifting the Irish Cup in 1948 - scoring in a 3-0 victory over Coleraine at Celtic Park - and again in 1950 with a 2-1 win against Distillery at Windsor Park.

Billy also enjoyed three Gold Cup successes, including scoring a hat-trick against Glenavon in the final during the 1948/49 season, the same year he claimed an Ulster Cup winners' medal.

He would go on to win the City Cup the following season and scored in his final game, a 5-1 City Cup win against Ballymena United on October 14, 1950.

It was legendary Rangers manager Bill Struth who brought Billy (below) to Ibrox for a fee of £11,500 on October 19, 1950.

In Scotland, Billy continued his lethal scoring streak by bagging 174 goals in 262 appearances for the Gers. He won Scottish League winners' medals in 1953, '56 and '57, and was also a member of the Rangers side that won the Scottish Cup in 1953.

Billy was also part of the Northern Ireland squad from 1951-59, 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.

Blues chairman Jim Kerr, vice-chair Billy Kennedy and business director Roy McGivern will attend tonight's event, and will be joined by Rangers directors Paul Murray and John Gilligan.

Guest speakers will include Northern Ireland assistant manager and former Rangers and Manchester United favourite Jimmy Nicholl, as well as another ex-Rangers player John 'Bomber' Brown.

A number of Linfield supporters' clubs - including Roden, Finaghy, First Newtownabbey, York Star and East End - have also supported the special night.

Linfield vice-chairman Billy Kennedy said: "Billy has always been a very quiet, modest and unassuming man who loved his association with both Linfield and Rangers.

"Billy has never forgotten his Donegall Road family roots and, on his visits home and to Windsor Park, he was always popularly received by friends and the fans.

"This will be a special night for Billy, and it is fully deserved."

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