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Alex Willoughby

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Taken from FF


Alex Willoughby, an Inside Right, was a great wee player from the 1960's, that is too often overlooked.

He was born in Springburn Glasgow on 17th September 1944, and along with his cousin Jim Forrest, became a product of the famous Drumchapel Amateurs.
Both boys went on to win Scottish schoolboy caps, before being signed by Rangers as 15 year olds.

Willoughby made his debut (in place of Ian McMillan) towards the end of the 62-63 season in a 3-1 home League win v Queen of the South, three days after Rangers had secured the Double with that 3-0 easy easy Cup Final win v Celtic.
The Line up that day
Ritchie Shearer, Provan, Davis, McKinnon, Baxter, Henderson, Willoughby, Millar, Brand and Wilson.

Willoughby kept his place in the side the following week as Rangers traveled across the city to Shawfield and registered a 3-1 win v Clyde,with the impressive 18 year old Willoughby scoring twice.

The following season (63-64) as Rangers marched to the Treble, saw Willoughby restricted to only 8 appearances.
His return of 4 goals indicated much promise.
He made his European Cup debut in front of 80,000 fans at the Bernabeu' when he was surprisingly selected for the away leg v Real Madrid.
His only highlight of that evening was when the great Ferenc Puskas, who scored a hat trick that night, handed his number 10 shirt to the teenager, at the end of the match.
Willoughby collected his first winners medal in October 63', when Rangers beat Morton 5-0 in the League Cup Final before a crowd of 105,907.
In what was known as the family final, Willoughby scored one, with his cousin Jim Forrest banging in the other four. (all goals scored in the second half).

Despite Rangers struggles in the 64-65 season, Willoughby was afforded only 5 appearances.
In only his second appearance that season on April 3rd, Rangers hammered Falkirk 6-1 at Ibrox with Forrest scoring 4 again, and Willoughby scoring the other 2.

The 65-66 season saw Willoughby establish himself in the Inside Right position, as he registered 34 appearances in all competitions, with a return of 12 goals.
Highlights from that season included scoring both goals at Easter Rd in a 2-1 win v Hibs in Oct, scoring the only goal in a tight Scottish Cup Quarter Final match v St Johnstone, and scoring the winner at Pittodrie in a 2-1 win v Aberdeen when Rangers came back from 0-1 down, in Apr.

Even with such an impressive goalscoring record for an Inside Forward, of 20 goals in 50 appearances in the past four seasons,the 66-67 season looked to be the end of the road for Willoughby.
Five months and 36 games into the season, and Willoughby had not been selected to start in any of them, and had been given only one brief appearance as a substitute.

Then came Berwick.

Both strikers, Jim Forrest and George McLean were never to play for Rangers again.
Alex Smith who had scored 19 goals in 35 games as an Inside Right was moved to Centre Forward, and Alex Willoughby was back in the team at Inside Right.
Willoughby's impact was nothing short of incredible.
His first start of the season, and he scores a Hat Trick in a 5-1 win v Hearts at Ibrox.
Four days later, and he secures back to back Hat Tricks in a 5-1 win v Clyde at Shawfield.
(Clyde finished 3rd in the League that season).
The following Saturday Rangers travel to Kilmarnock (Russian Prime Minister Alexei Kosygin attended this match).
Kilmarnock were no mugs either back then, they would go all the way to the Semi Finals of the Fairs Cup that season.
In a tightly fought contest, Rangers took the lead in 55 mins through Davy Wilson, only for Kilmarnock to equalise 17 mins later, It was then left up to Alex Willoughby to round off a superb week, by scoring the winner to give Rangers both points.
His next game was his first European appearance of the season, against Real Zaragossa from Spain, and again he scored one in an impressive 2-0 win at Ibrox.
Back to the Scottish League four days later, and this phenomenal scoring continues, as Willoughby scores FOUR in a 5-1 rout at Motherwell.
This takes his tally to 12 goals in 5 games
Two goals in a 4-1 win at Ayr United, are followed up with a wonderful diving header to secure the winner in a 4-3 win v St Johnstone at Ibrox, that keeps us within 2 points of Celtic.
The following week with Celtic playing in the Cup, Rangers have the chance to draw level on points with a home League game v Dunfermline.
Unfortunately, Willoughby did not play in this game,
and Rangers who had dropped only 1 point all season long at Ibrox, lose 0-1 at home to Dunfermline.
Three days later, Rangers sign inside right Andy Penman from Dundee, though he is ineligible for the rest of the season.
The following Saturday, Rangers travel to Stirling Albion, and Willoughby, back in the side, scores the winner.
No game the following week as Scotland travel to Wembley to record a 3-2 win against the World Champions.
Rangers resume League play the following Saturday with a disappointing 1-1 draw at home to Clyde.
The following Saturday see Rangers travel to Dundee, whilst Celtic are winning their second Cup of the season with a 2-0 win v Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup Final.
Rangers who trail Dundee by a goal, are thrown a Championship lifeline yet again by Alex Willoughby who scores an invaluable equaliser.
Four days later, Rangers secure their place in the European Cup Winners Cup Final, as Celtic drop 2 points at home in a shock 2-3 loss to Dundee Utd, in the League
The situation is now thus.
Both Glasgow giants will contest in Europe's two big Finals.
Rangers on 54 points from 33 games will play Celtic (on 55 points from 32 games) at Ibrox in their final League game of the season.
This is a must win game for Rangers if they are to win the Championship.
Incredibly so,
Alex Willoughby, who has scored 17 goals in 14 games is DROPPED for Rangers two most important games of the season, and is replaced by a defender of sorts (Roger Hynd), who has made not one start all season long
(Rangers fail to win either game).

Despite such an incredible humiliation (which must be second only to his cousin's binning after Berwick), Willoughby stayed at Rangers.

With four new signings, Willoughby got nowhere near the first team in the first 11 games of the season (67-68).
In the middle of October, with Henderson out with a fractured jaw, Persson was moved to outside right and Symon recalled Willoughby to the side, at inside left.
Willoughby played in Symon's last three games, before he was fired.
When White took over on Nov 1st, he dropped Willoughby for his first three games, but installed him in his next game, a table top clash at home to Hibs.
This was an ill tempered affair that saw Alex Ferguson and Colin Stein (Hibs) sent off for fighting.
As Rangers hung on to a 1-0 lead (Greig pen 34 mins), it was Alex Willoughby who secured the points with a second goal five minutes from the end.
Willoughby made 20 starts (3 sub) for White that season scoring 10 goals.
His most important goal came at Kilmarnock in the penultimate League game of the season, when he came off the bench to score the winner.
This kept White's unbeaten League record at 22 wins and 3 draws in 25 games.

Willoughby made only 4 appearances (3 starts 1 sub) in the 68-69 season.
His final appearance in a Rangers shirt oddly enough was with a No 7 on the back.
It was also Alex MacDonald's debut, having been signed four days earlier.
Nov 23rd 1968, Clyde 1-1 Rangers (Stein)
Martin, Johansen, Mathieson, Greig, McKinnon, D.Smith, Willoughby, MacDonald, Stein, Johnston, Persson.
Only McKinnon (and Henderson who was injured) remained from the team he made his debut in five and a half years earlier.
Willoughby was transferred to Aberdeen in the summer of 69' for £25,000 to rejoin his cousin Jim Forrest.

Alex Willoughby was at Ibrox for virtually the entire decade that was the Sixties, and yet he played in less than 100 games.

This famous quote (taken from Rangers Media) that I was previously unaware of, does show an incredible level of loyalty that we would never see in today's game, and is one of those stories etched into Ibrox folklore.
Alex Willoughby explaining to an astonished press pack why he had rejected a glamour move to English giants Manchester United – “they can’t give me the blue shirt of the Rangers”

His record of 47 Goals scored in 95 Games (90 starts, 5 subs) is still very impressive for an Inside Forward.


Funny how I remember Willoughby well, but from all the players in this team he is probably the one I would forget to mention.

Martin, Johansen, Mathieson, Greig, McKinnon, D.Smith, Willoughby, MacDonald, Stein, Johnston, Persson.

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Great report on a underestimated player,what I remember from all that was Andy Penman's debut which was in a reserve game on the day that Foinavon famously won the Grand National.

I have had the pleasure to know an uncle of Penman for the last few years.

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He was a player we wasted by not making him a regular beside his cousin Jim Forrest the managers ideas back then were dated I know he won a lot at Rangers but it was the start of the tracksuit managers/coaches and we had Symon standing with a three piece suit coat and hat watching Davie Kinnear  putting the lads through their paces I often think if we had played Forrest and dandy against Munich we would have made Glasgow a European capital of football that year .



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