THE board of directors, management, players and staff at Rangers Football Club would like to send our sincere condolences to the family of Billy Simpson after the former Light Blues and Northern Ireland centre forward passed away peacefully this morning at the age of 87.
Bill Struth brought Billy to Ibrox in October 1950 for a club record fee of £11,500 from Linfield and the Belfast-born striker proved to be one of the legendary Rangers manager’s best pound for pound signings as he went on to score 163 goals in 239 appearances for the club.
A versatile and courageous player who would risk injury to put the ball in the net, Billy was also excellent in the air with so many of his goals coming from his desire to get his head on crosses others would not attempt to reach.
His first goals for Rangers came on 23 December 1950, a hat-trick against East Fife at Ibrox, and his hundredth for the club was a typical flying header against Hearts in October 1957. He also scored four goals on no fewer than three occasions against Third Lanark, St Mirren and Hibernian.
Billy’s most important goal was against Hearts at Tynecastle in April 1957 and it was again a header. The 1-0 victory put Rangers on their way to league title success that season after Scot Symon’s side had been seven points behind the Jambos in the final straight.
At international level Billy made 12 appearances for Northern Ireland, scoring five goals, including the winner in a famous 3-2 victory over England at Wembley in November 1957.
After winning three league titles and scoring the winning goal against Aberdeen to lift the Scottish Cup with Rangers in 1953 he joined Stirling Albion in March 1958 before playing for Partick Thistle and Oxford United.
As a mark of respect, a minute’s silence will be observed prior to next Saturday’s game against Ross County at Ibrox.