He played like a classic centre forward, and had a classic sense of sportsmanship. He had all the tools needed to be a quality goal scorer, including an excellent head for the game.
This made his partnership with friend and right wing, Willie Waddell, devastating and it was no surprise Thornton became the first post-war Ranger to break the 100-goal barrier.
He joined, aged 16, in March 1936 on the princely wage of £1 a week and his debut against Partick Thistle less than ten months later made him one of the youngest ever Light Blues.
Twenty appearances in the following season was just the precursor to him being a regular in the side of 38/39 which brought him his first of four Championship medals.
The war interrupted and found Willie serving in the British Army’s only existent private regiment, the Duke of Atholl’s Scottish Horse and ended with the player honoured for gallantry in the Sicilian campaign.
Football returned and normal service was hastily resumed by the two Willies. In 47/48 they were involved in another record.
The Scottish Cup semi-final against Hibernian was played in front of a staggering 143,570 people who saw the tie decided by a solitary Thornton header from a Waddell cross.
They duly went on to win the final as well – a success in which Thornton’s 36 goals played a major part.
Success continued for club and player alike culminating for Thornton in 1952 when he was voted Player Of The Year.
Two years later he hung up his boots and went into management initially at Dundee and Partick Thistle, before returning to Ibrox as assistant manager to Davie White.
When White moved on the old double act was re-united as Waddell took over. In fact, during the crossover, Thornton did briefly hold the reins.
Under him the Light Blues played twice and won twice, making Thornton the only Rangers manager ever to have a 100% record.
Before he died in August 1991, Thornton also became custodian of the Trophy Room at Ibrox and was matchday host in, of course, the Thornton Suite.
In his time Thornton broke records galore, and he left us with a record that will never be broken.