‘Sure Its A Grand Old Team To Play For’ – Lisbon Lion, Ronnie Simpson

Allan Herron edited Ronnie Simpson’s autobiography. By any standards Ronnie’s story is quite remarkable, it seems too good to be true.

Ronnie was the son of a famous father who captained Rangers and Scotland. So, just to reassure myself that I had experienced those quieter, earlier times, I looked back to Ronnie’s days at Celtic to remember the joy that he had experienced in his Celtic career and that we had all enjoyed so much. It just seemed pertinent to do so in this the month of May.

Before he came to Celtic, he had started his professional career as a 14-year-old, short trousered schoolboy, part time with first division Queens Park. He left them to keep goal for the other “Deid Club”, Third Lanark, before moving to what he must have thought of as the pinnacle of his career, Newcastle United. Ronnie won two FA Cup medals at Wembley with Newcastle, he trained diligently and spent around ten years with the ‘Geordies’, it would be fair to say that he must have thought that he would see his career out with them, he certainly felt after ten years, a mature player, but football if nothing else is full of surprises and he was needed further north, to tend the goal for…

“Sunshine On Leith”, Hibernian F.C. In his book Ronnie explained about his meeting with Big Jock, the man with the Midas touch with regard to football. Jock Stein had lifted Dunfermline F.C. from relegation candidates to playing European football, I don’t need the book to tell me how much he was admired as an ex. Celtic player, captain and student of the game, the only problem with Mr. Stein for me, was that he went to Hibernian, while we were counting down the days till he came back home to us at Paradise.

Newcastle United’s goal keeper Ronnie Simpson diving for the ball in an attempt to stop Manchester City scoring their first goal in the FA Cup final at Wembley. United won 3-1. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The book says that Ronnie felt that he was on his way out when Jock invited him to join him in his office, trepidation followed Ronnie in to the inner sanctum.” I’ve had an enquiry from Celtic,” says Jock, Ronnie knew how much Jock loved Celtic and he was very excited at the possibility of going to Celtic Park.

Ronnie had for the first and only time in his career been dodging training, playing golf instead (hence the picture with Stevie Chalmers), fair doo’s to Ronnie he knew better and was full of remorse, just another example of how he was acknowledging to himself that his football career was coming to its end. He must have gone ‘phew’ and vowed to intensify his training.

Every Celtic supporter knows what happened when Ronnie came to Celtic, Mike Maher did him proud in his article in the Celtic Star on 19 April 2023 and we always keep him and those special men the Lisbon Lions in our minds when the calendar turns to May every single year and Ronnie was a ‘Lion’ in every sense, it is essential that every goalkeeper must be brave and he like many others had to deal with his full share of footballing injuries.

READ THIS…Ronnie Simpson, Celtic’s greatest ever goalkeeper

Below is a picture of Ronnie’s first of many football medals playing for Celtic F.C. for me it is extremely special, his League Cup medal. He’s pictured sitting around his kitchen table showing it to his proud father – Faither’s – Faither. All Dads are proud of their sons and Ronnie’s was no exception. You could imagine how he would advise his son of what to expect on all the elements that constitute the game that’s called , football.

Note: Celtic won the Scottish League Cup Final on 29th. October 1966, beating Rangers 1-0, to lift the Cup. 1966 – 67 would prove to be the most successful year in Celtic history – (So Far) as the club won every competition that it entered. The Scottish League – Scottish Cup – League Cup – Glasgow Cup – European Cup.

The keeper of the goals Ronnie Simpson (1930 – 2004). is best known for his time at Celtic, starting the 1966 – 67 season aged 36. the highest point of his career, he won personally, in total, five League Championships, two League Cups, a Scottish Cup and a European Cup medal, he also gained five caps for Scotland. It always amazes me that those special players won so few International caps, but then, there’s a lot of what goes on in Scottish football that amazes me. “Dead Rubbers”, is there a cup for that?

The medal was offered for sale on behalf of Ronnie’s close friend.

Special mention to that other hero of Lisbon, John Fallon, faithfulness personified.

All the best

Anonymous Bhoy, Ha!

ALSO FROM ANONYMOUS BHOY…Celtic’s Outstanding Track Record for Testimonial Games

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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