Ronnie Simpson

Discussion in 'The Lisbon Lions' started by The Prof, Apr 29, 2019.

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  1. The Prof Administrator Administrator

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    "Ronnie was as much a footballer as he was a goalkeeper. Anything that went behind the defenders, Ronnie would come out and deal with it. In training, he always wanted to play as a striker."
    Billy McNeill on Ronnie Simpson



    http://www.thecelticwiki.com/page/Simpson,+Ronnie
     
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  3. The Prof Administrator Administrator

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    Article from The Guardian 2004,



    Goalkeeper who made Celtic a formidable team in the 1960s





    Ronnie Simpson, who has died of a heart attack aged 73, was something of a phenomenon among goalkeepers: a schoolboy wonder who made his first-class debut for Scottish amateurs Queens Park at the age of 14; a resilient veteran still good enough to win major club and international honours in his late 30s, including the European Cup with Celtic in 1967.
    His father, Jim Simpson, a famous centre-half for Rangers, was offered the job of trainer at the club. But it was contingent on the understanding that the teenage Ronnie, already showing high promise, would come to Ibrox. Jim Simpson sturdily responded that his son must do as he pleased, and he did not get the job.

    So the 14-year-old Ronnie made his debut for Queens Park in a summer cup match against Clyde after playing for his school, King's Park secondary, in the morning. "I suppose it was the speed of the thing that prevented me being nervous," he said.

    After national service with the Royal Armoured Corps at Catterick, he was a member of the British squad in the 1948 Olympic tournament in London.

    His first professional club was the now, alas, defunct Third Lanark, but he was there for only six months when he was signed by Newcastle United in February 1951. The incumbent, Jack Fairbrother, looked unassailable, but in September broke his collar-bone, and Ronnie took his place, helping Newcastle to win the FA Cup Final of 1952, against Arsenal, and 1955, against Manchester City.

    The Scottish international centre-half, Frank Brennan, became, he said, a sort of second father to him. "Though experience can teach you a lot," Ronnie once said, "the great thing is to keep one's mental reactions sharp all the time." He did plenty of shouting, he said, and he expected other players to do the same. "This keeps everyone on their toes."

    In 1960, he returned to Scotland to play 179 games for Hibernian of Edinburgh, but in the 1963-64 season he was abruptly dropped and never played for the first team again. Disenchanted, he, by his own admission, "lost interest in football", but his career then took a remarkable turn. It is generally supposed that Jock Stein, doyen of all Celtic managers, took him back to Glasgow. In fact it seems that Stein, at the time managing Hibs, encouraged Ronnie to join Celtic when their then chief scout, Sean Fallon, came in for him.

    Ronnie himself expected merely to be goalkeeping coach and standby keeper. Instead, he found himself playing with renewed success for the top team, Stein having joined the club as manager and promoting him. As Stein said: "I don't think Ron is too old at 35, especially the way he is playing. After all, Russia's Yashin is rated best in the world, and he's touching 40."

    With Simpson in goal, Celtic became an irresistible power, not only in Scotland but in Europe, with a team made up largely of Glaswegians. Willie Woodburn, who succeeded Jim Simpson as Rangers and Scotland centre-half, would say, "Ronnie's superb skill and courage laid the foundation for what must be the most successful year in Celtic's long history."

    That year, 1967, was Simpson's annus mirabilis. He won the first of his five caps, aged 36, for Scotland, in his team's unexpected victory over England at Wembley, and in May he helped Celtic beat Internazionale of Milan in the European Cup Final in Lisbon, 2-1. Overall, he said: "I saw less of the ball in that game than probably any other I played in."

    But a horrific experience awaited him that autumn in Buenos Aires, where Celtic played the second leg of the Intercontinental Final against Racing Club. Just before the game began, he was struck on the head by a missile fired by a catapult from the crowd, knocked out and forced to leave the field. For fear of the riot that might follow, Celtic played the game and lost 1-0. In a shockingly violent play-off in Montevideo, Stein did not include Simpson, reckoning that even were he fit again, he would be in no psychological condition to play.

    In October 1971, Ronnie became the manager of Hamilton Academicals in the Scottish Second Division. Later, he opened a sports shop in Edinburgh, and ran a pub and a post office. In 1970, he was elected as Progressive councillor in Edinburgh, and as late as 1990 he worked as goalkeeping coach with St Johnstone and Partick Thistle.
     
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