Obituary: William ‘Willie’ Logie, former Rangers footballer

Footballer who was the first British player sent off in a competitive European game. Picture: Stirling Observer

Footballer who was the first British player sent off in a competitive European game. Picture: Stirling Observer

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Born: 30 September, 1932 in Montreal, Canada. Died: 20 June, 2016 in Stirling, aged 83.

Rangers footballers hold many Scottish football records, but Willie Logie, who died last month after a long battle against Parkinson’s ­disease, held one which he would rather had gone to someone else.

In a short and in many ways unremarkable one-season Rangers first-team career, which spanned just 23 games, Logie became the first Scottish – indeed British – player to be sent off in a competitive European game. He achieved this dubious accolade in the second leg of a first round European Cup match, between Rangers and the French champions, Nice, in Nice, on 14 November, 1956 (pictured below, the team leave for France).

Rangers, in their first European Cup campaign, took a slender 2-1 lead to Nice, but, after weeks of non-stop rain, the pitch was like a ploughed field and the French side had overturned the scoreline. With six minutes left, they led 2-1, when the flashpoint came. Logie tackled Nice’s Muro heavily; Muro punched Logie, who hit back, whereupon the French side’s Argentine centre forward Ruben Bravo waded in to attack Logie too, sparking off a mass brawl, which ended with Logie and Bravo being sent off.

Logie was able to play in the play-off, in Paris, two weeks later, which Nice won 3-1, but his place in history was by then secured.

Willie Logie had been born in Montreal, but, when he was about four, the family returned to Scotland, to settle in the Riverside area of Stirling, where he was brought up and schooled.

After school, he served his time as an apprentice joiner, before National Service with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders took him to Hong Kong, Singapore and into active service during the Korean War.

Back home, he settled into his trade, married childhood sweetheart Catherine in 1954 and played junior football for Cambuslang Rangers, before signing for Rangers in 1955. He made the first of his 23 first team games in a 1-0 Ibrox loss to Kilmarnock, in September, 1956, keeping his place for the Old Firm game the following week. He played twice in Scottish club football’s biggest match, Rangers winning both – he even hit the Celtic bar with a long-range “dipper” in that debut appearance.

However, by the end of that season, he had lost his place to another Korean War veteran, Harold Davis, but his 16 league appearances were sufficient to earn him a League Championship medal.

At the end of the following season he left Rangers for Aberdeen, before winding down his senior career with spells at Arbroath, Brechin and Alloa. Then it was back to joinery and for many years he was employed by the well-known firm of RJ McLeod.

In the 1960s, on holiday, Willie often had to dissuade people of the notion he was another former Scottish footballer – Bonnyrigg Rose’s one-time winger Sean Connery, a likeness which caused Willie and his family much hilarity.

He and Catherine, who pre-deceased him in 2013, had two sons, Martin and Greig, who survive him, along with six grand-children and one great-grand-child. He is also survived by his sisters Muriel and Marion. In later life, before his Parkinson’s put a stop to it, Willie Logie was an enthusiastic gardener.

His family and friends remember a cheerful and very funny man, a teller of tall tales and snappy jokes. Scottish football recalls an unfortunate history-maker, punished by a referee for a tackle which, in Scotland, would have passed off without comment, but, in Europe sparked-off a “rammy”.

It’s a funny old game, football, as somebody once said.

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