They called him ‘Faither’, as everyone knows –
He was the oldest Lion but still light on his toes.
He and Big Jock, well, they didn’t always agree –
he got rid of Faither when they were at the Hibees
Jock sold him to Celtic……now wasn’t that ironic
Who could have guessed he’d become iconic?
But Ronnie Simpson had a fine pedigree
which started early as a schoolboy prodigy.
He played his first senior game at the age of fourteen
between the posts at Hampden for the famous Queens
then to the Magpies of Newcastle, via Cathkin Park,
He spent almost 10 years at St. James Park
Two visits to Wembley, two Cup Winners medals,
But by the time he reached Celtic he was thirty five and nothing special.
He was moving towards the end of his career,
signed as an understudy, that was made clear.
Until Jock blamed John Fallon for losing to the Rangers
and reluctantly turned to ‘Faither’ to avert further danger.
He never looked back and rediscovered his form, shut outs rapidly became the norm.
He was called up for Scotland aged thirty-six to play against England at Wembley between the sticks.
Now six weeks later he’s walking out at Lisbon
in the European Cup Final, defying conventional wisdom
Faither had earned that Cup Final place against Vojvodina and Dukla he had made some great saves
and in other vital games his calming influence
made him the perfect last line of defence.
Some great moments, yes, but not yet his finest
no, that was to come in the Lisbon furnace
Here, Inter had taken a dubious lead
from a penalty kick that put Simpson on his seat.
One nil down and then, against the run of play,
Cappellini, the striker, is making his way
towards Simpson, he has only the goalie to beat
but Faither was alert and smart on his feet.
He got there first, with inches to spare
and what he did next, most wouldn’t have dared.
Not for Simpson a hopeful rush and big boot
that could have rebounded from Capellini’s foot
with the risk that Simpson would have been stranded
in no man’s land, with the goal abandoned.
But no – here’s Faither with a touch of real style,
weighing up the situation, using all his wiles.
He controls the ball and then flicks it to the side
(knowing if he’d missed it there would be nowhere to hide) –
he had seen John Clark and, as cool as can be,
the danger was averted by the ball playing goalie!
Pride of Lions by Tom Brown is the story of the Lisbon Lions in verse. Due for release March 2018. Extracts published here every week.