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Adam Little

Former Rangers, Morton and Scotland footballer and GP

Born: 1 September, 1919, in Blantyre.

Died: 12 June, 2008, in Erskine, aged 88.

AS A highly coveted Scottish schoolboy international midfield player from Rutherglen Academy, Adam Little was sought by Rangers and Celtic. On the advice of his father, he rejected Celtic's offer and agreed to join their great rivals at Ibrox in 1936.

He was initially farmed out to the junior club Blantyre Victoria, but was regarded by Bill Struth, the renowned and revered long-serving manager of Rangers, as an outstanding prospect.

Unfortunately for Little, the suspension of official football during the Second World War prevented him from fulfilling the potential Struth saw in him.

At the age of 18, Little was handed his first-team debut for Rangers in a benefit match against Stoke City for the Holditch Colliery disaster relief fund on 19 October, 1937. Among his team-mates, all of whom donated their week's wages to the fund, were famous names of the time such as Jerry Dawson, Jimmy Simpson and Jimmy Smith.

Little, who combined his training at Rangers with medical studies at Glasgow University, had to wait until the following season to make his Scottish League debut for the club against Arbroath at Gayfield on 24 September, 1938. The match ended in a 3-3 draw, and he would make three further appearances in a title campaign that saw the Ibrox side win what proved to be the last championship before the outbreak of war.

The 1939-40 season was curtailed after just five league games had been played, and Little was one of many players whose peak years were spent playing football that does not appear in the official record books. It was during this period, however, that he established himself as a first-team regular with Rangers and gained an admirable collection of winners' medals.

He played ten games and scored three goals, including the winner in a play-off against Falkirk at Ibrox, as Rangers triumphed in the first wartime league championship. Little was also part of the side that won the Glasgow Cup, Charity Cup and Scottish Emergency War Cup. The final of the latter tournament, in which Rangers beat Dundee United 1-0, was watched by a crowd of 90,000 at Hampden in May 1940.

Little's time with Rangers was punctuated by national service, which took him first to Aldershot and later to the Middle East. He joined the Royal Army Medical Corps as a fully qualified doctor, appeared as a guest player for Arsenal and was also a member of the British Army team.

When in Scotland, he was a key member of the Rangers side and formed a formidable half-back line alongside Ibrox greats George Young and Scot Symon. Rangers dominated Scottish football throughout the Second World War, and in the 1941-2 season alone, Little collected no fewer than five winners' medals as the championship trophy was joined by the League Cup, Glasgow Cup, Charity Cup and Summer Cup in the Ibrox trophy room.

The following season, Little was part of the Rangers team that defeated Celtic 8-1 at Ibrox on New Year's Day, which remains a record victory in Old Firm matches. Sadly for Little, he would find himself on the wrong end of another famous scoreline when he made his one and only appearance for Scotland on 16 October, 1943. Despite the presence of Rangers team-mates Young, Willie Waddell and Torry Gillick, as well as Hearts' celebrated forward Tommy Walker, the Scots were crushed 8-0 by a brilliant England team in front of 60,000 at Maine Road, Manchester.

There was compensation for Little back at Ibrox in the 1943-4 season, which saw him miss just one game for Rangers as the championship was retained yet again. In all, he made 204 appearances for Rangers, but only six were in official league matches. By 1946-7, the first season after the war, Little had lost his place in the team and would play only sporadically in his remaining years at the club.

His final appearance came in a 2-0 league win over Morton at Ibrox on 9 December, 1950, and, ironically, it was the Greenock club he would join when Rangers gave him a free transfer in March 1951. Little was unable to prevent Morton's relegation from the top division in 1951-2, but he remained a popular and effective player at Cappielow, where he made 114 appearances before retiring from football in 1955.

Little remained in the area, where he worked as a GP in Port Glasgow, for the rest of his life. He was predeceased by May, his wife of 53 years, in 2004 and is survived by his son David and grandchildren Jennifer, Alastair and Andrew.

STEPHEN HALLIDAY

 
 
 

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