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Was he United's best keeper?

MANY of us will have engaged in barroom conversations where we tipsily discuss the relative merits of Newcastle United players of yesteryear.

Just who, for example, was the Toon's finest ever centre forward, or the club's most accomplished defender? Each of us will have our own opinions.

When it comes to the best United goalkeepers, the modern era has given the likes of Shay Given and Pavel Srnicek, while Willie (or was it Iam?) McFaul was a popular and capable 1960s-70s custodian.

If you asked an older fan, though, they might well nominate Glasgowborn Ronnie Simpson who served Newcastle United with distinction between 1951 and 1960.

Born on this day in 1930, Simpson was 61 days short of his 15th birthday when he made his debut for Queens Park.

Arriving at Gallowgate from Third Lanark in February 1951, for a fee of PS8,500, Ronnie's debut came in August of that year as United lost 1-0 at home to Bolton Wanderers.

Better was to come.

Ronnie, pictured, was quick to establish himself as number one at St James' Park, famously playing in the Wembley FA Cup final triumphs of 1952 and 55.

Unlike the giant goalkeepers of 2016, the smaller Simpson - as was usually the case then - used agility and speed between the sticks.

He also once revealed to the Press how he kept his false teeth safe during games by rolling them in a handkerchief and putting them in rolled-up cap in the back of the net!

(Wonder if David de Gea and Manuel Neuer do that?) A succession of injuries brought an end to Simpson's Toon career, but he would on to even greater things, winning the European Cup with Celtic in 1967, and making his international debut in the same year - against England - aged 36.

Retiring from playing in 1970, Simpson became a football coach, before stints as a publican, sport shop owner, pool panel member, and local councillor.

One of the games's great characters, Ronnie Simpson passed away in Edinburgh on April 19, 2004.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Oct 11, 2016
Words:338
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