RANGERS were paid a special visit last week by the granddaughter of one of the club’s earliest players – George Gillespie.
A member of the famous 1877 Scottish Cup final side, although he didn’t play the position at the time, he was famed for his goalkeeping skills, while off the park too he was a strong character both in terms of his influence at Rangers and his business exploits elsewhere.
His granddaughter, Barbara, recently got in contact with Iain McColl and Gordon Bell from the Founders’ Trail, and they were delighted to show both her and husband Emile around many places in Glasgow which were linked to Gillespie.
Taking up the story now is Iain McColl.
“He was a huge figure,” he explained. “He joined the Rangers from Sandyford in 1875 and played for the club for a number of years, and most famously, he was part of the 1877 team which competed against Vale of Leven, and everyone is familiar with that team photograph.
“A couple of years later, Rangers won their first ever trophy – the Glasgow Merchants Charity Cup, and George was a member of the team that day which managed to win that game.
“He was a very shrewd businessman and he was involved in the licensed trade, and we were delighted to take his granddaughter Barbara and her husband Emile around many locations linked to George’s life.
“He unfortunately passed in around 1900 from pneumonia, and we also visited his final resting place in Lambhill Cemetery, which through the Rangers Graves Restoration Project, we have recently restored.
“There are so many great stories about him too – for example asking Tom Vallance to stand down as umpire for one of Rangers’ games as he felt Tom would be too honest.
“Tom then resigned from the club and George then had to go and apologise to Tom and ask him to take up his role again.
“He was a huge figure, and very highly thought of among the ranks of the Rangers players at the time.”
Both Barbara and Emile had a terrific day, with Barbara saying: “It’s been wonderful – I had no idea my grandfather was so famous! I knew he was a soccer player and my father used to talk about him, but now I realise how famous he is, how well liked he was and what a character he was too.
“It was terrific, and we have really enjoyed our time. We can only thank everyone for showing us around.
“It’s been quite emotional too! We had a little picture of his grave but it was nice to go to the cemetery in person – it was very moving.”