Billy Simpson
Billy Simpson
Billy Simpson
● Billy Simpson (NIF)

born in Northern Ireland

William Joseph Simpson was born on Thursday, 12th December, 1929, in Belfast.

The forward signed for Willie Thornton's Thistle on Thursday, 5th November, 1959, having most recently been with Stirling Albion.

Aged 29, he made his debut appearance on Saturday, 28th November, 1959, in a 3-1 win at home to Celtic in the SFL First Division.

Billy scored his first goal for Thistle on Saturday, 5th December, 1959, in a 4-1 defeat away to Ayr United in the SFL First Division.

He scored his second and final goal for the club on Saturday, 12th December, 1959, in a 4-2 win at home to St Mirren in the SFL First Division.

He played his last game for Thistle on Friday, 1st January, 1960, in a 1-0 defeat at home to Clyde in the SFL First Division, having appeared as a Jag on 6 occasions.

Billy's club-list included Linfield, Rangers, Stirling Albion, Partick Thistle and Oxford United.

Billy died on Friday, 27th January, 2017, in Glasgow, aged 87.

Bio Extra

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, Rangers and Northern Ireland. 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. Brilliantly, Billy celebrated his 30th birthday with a goal at Firhill in a 4-2 League win over St Mirren! After retiring, he worked as a joiner in the Govan Shipyard in Glasgow right up to the 1980s.

In April 2015, the feature-length documentary Spirit of '58 was screened as part of the Belfast Film Festival. It featured Billy Simpson prominently alongside the other surviving players (Billy Bingham, Peter McParland, Jimmy McIlroy and Harry Gregg) as it told the story of Northern Ireland's journey throughout the 1950s under the managership of Peter Doherty, culminating in the 1958 World Cup. Simpson continued to reside near Ibrox until his death at the age of 87. A month earlier Rangers had hosted a tribute evening for Simpson, though he had been too frail to attend. Shortly before he died, Simpson looked back on the great Northern Ireland team of the 1950s: "we were more than a football team, we were all mates."


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