Woodburn Willie Image 1 Rangers 1951

Woodburn Willie Image 1 Rangers 1951


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Edinburgh born centre half Willie Woodburn played for junior sides Edinburgh Ashton and Musselburgh Athletic before signing as a professional for Rangers in October 1937. He made his Scottish League debut on 20th August 1938 in a 2-2 draw  against Motherwell, but the Second World War severely interrupted his early career. After the Second World War he established himself in the Rangers side and played in Rangers’ famous Iron Curtain defence of the late 1940’s and early 1950s along with the likes of Bobby Brown, George Young, Jock Shaw, Ian McColl and Sammy Cox. He won four Scottish League Championships with The ‘Gers in six seasons from 1946-47. He appeared in the first Scottish League Cup Final in April 1947, when Rangers beat Aberdeen 4-0, and in total won that competition twice, as well as being on the winning side in four Scottish Cup Finals.

Woodburn won 24 caps for Scotland. He made his debut in a 1-1 draw with England at Wembley in April 1947 winning his final cap in 1952. Woodburn also appeared seven times for the Scottish League between 1947 and 1951.

In 1947 he received a 14-day ban for a “violent exchange” with Motherwell’s Davie Mathie, then in 1953 he punched the Clyde striker Billy McPhail, which earned a 21-day ban. Later that year, Woodburn was sent off for retaliation in a match with Stirling Albion. The clubs met again, the following season, in a League Cup tie at Ibrox on 28th August 1954. Playing with a knee injury, Woodburn took exception to a bad foul and retaliated by headbutting a Stirling player.

The SFA convened a disciplinary hearing the following month, which lasted just four minutes, and Woodburn was suspended sine die. The England international Tom Finney, one of many well-known forwards Woodburn had encountered in his international career, described the ban as “a grave injustice”. The SFA revoked their punishment three years later, but by then Woodburn was 37 and his playing career was over after 2 goals in 328 appearances for Rangers. He was the last footballer in Britainto receive a life ban from the game for indiscipline.

Woodburn is also an inductee of the Scottish Football Hall of Fame as well as the Rangers Hall of Fame.

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