Belfast Telegraph

Linfield to honour ex-striker and Rangers legend Billy Simpson

Belfast club remembers all-time great

Linfield and Rangers legend Billy Simpson
Linfield and Rangers legend Billy Simpson
Billy Simpson shows his class

Linfield have paid tribute to former Linfield and Rangers striker Billy Simpson following his death and are to wear black armbands at their game against Dungannon on Saturday in honour of the legendary goalscorer.

Mr 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 lived in Glasgow with his family before his death - was also capped 12 times by Northern Ireland.

The 87-year-old grew up in the shadow of Windsor Park.

Following news of Billy's death, in a statement Linfield described him as one of the club's all-time greats.

"It is with deep sorrow and profound regret that Linfield FC records the sad passing of Billy Simpson.

"Billy was the local boy from the Village area of south Belfast who went on to achieve fame as a player of great pedigree with Linfield, Glasgow Rangers and Northern Ireland.

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"The deepest sympathy and most sincere condolences of everyone at Linfield Football Club are extended to the grieving family circle at this very sad time.

"The Linfield players will wear black armbands at tomorrow's game in Dungannon by way of tribute and in honour of one of our most famous ever players."

Billy 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 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.

In December last year both Linfield and Rangers honoured Billy with a special tribute event in Glasgow.

Ahead of the event 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."

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