Peter Simpson (Scottish footballer)

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This article is about the Scottish footballer of the 1920s-1930s. For others with the same name, see Peter Simpson (disambiguation).
Peter Simpson
Personal information
Full name Peter Simpson
Date of birth 1904/1905
Place of birth Leith, Scotland
Date of death 1974
Playing position Striker
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
Leith Amateurs 20 (15)
1925–1927 St Bernard's 58 (78)
1927–1929 Kettering Town 60 (100)
1929–1935 Crystal Palace 195 (165)
1935–1937 West Ham United
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only. † Appearances (Goals).

Peter Simpson (ca. 1904/1905—March 1974) was a Scottish football player of the 1920s and 1930s many of whose top-scoring records remain unequalled to this day.

Club career[edit]

Early career[edit]

A native of Leith, Simpson began his career with local side Leith Amateurs before joining Division Two side St Bernard's for the start of the 1925-26 season. He scored 12 times in his first seven games for Saints and eventually totalled 33 goals for the season. However, the 1926 General Strike had severe financial ramifications for Scottish lower-league sides, and part way into the 1926-27 season Simpson left his impoverished club for English non-league side Kettering Town.

At Kettering, Simpson did well, and his break came, strangely, in a game for Kettering, playing against Crystal Palace in an FA Cup First Round tie, in 1928. Though he failed to find the net, Simpson impressed hugely, leading Palace manager Fred Maven into signing him the following summer.

Crystal Palace[edit]

Simpson made his Crystal Palace debut in the fifth game of the 1929-30 season, and immediately scored a hat-trick.

By March of that season, Simpson had scored 27 goals in 27 league and cup games, a quite incredible record. This alerted the big clubs of the time to his quite outstanding talent, and a transfer away from Selhurst Park seemed certain. However, the Palace directors put a huge price-tag on Simpson's contract, and no move came. He finished the season, and actually managed to improve on his record up until March, finally having netted 36 times, having only started 34 games (this was before substitutions were introduced).

In the 1930-31 season, he achieved a feat which no Palace player has ever even equalled, let alone bettered, scoring an amazing six goals in a 7-2 thrashing of Exeter City, in a Division Three South fixture. He would go on to score a remarkable 46 goals that season, a Palace record that still stands.

In his first five Palace seasons, Simpson topped the goalscoring charts every time, another unbeaten record.[citation needed]

In the 1934-35 season, Simpson suffered a knee injury. After his comeback, Simpson appeared to have lost some of his magic, and was seen to be inferior to the player he was before. In April 1935, Simpson scored in a 1-1 draw with Swindon Town. It would prove to be his last outing for Palace. He was transferred to West Ham United that summer. His final Palace total was 165 goals, from 195 appearances, a goals-per-game total of 0.85. He also scored an amazing 19 hat-tricks for Palace, in just four years. His goals and hat-trick totals for Palace are just more records that are still unbeaten.

West Ham United and Reading[edit]

After two largely un-noteworthy seasons with West Ham, and still struggling from the aftermath of his injury, he left in 1937, moving to Reading. At Elm Park, despite being at the back-end of his career, he seemed to have rekindled a little bit of his magic. He would return to Selhurst Park in early 1938 with The Royals, and score two of Reading's three goals, to beat The Glaziers 3–2.


After his playing career ended, Peter Simpson decided to settle into the Croydon area where he was so loved, taking over a tobacconist's there. He died in Croydon, at the age of just sixty-nine. However, though he did not make it into Palace's Centenary XI (primarily because the majority of the voters (the fans of the club) are more accustomed to the talents of modern heroes Ian Wright and Andrew Johnson, who played in the top division, rather than a vintage great, such as Simpson), when one looks at the record books of Crystal Palace F.C., the first name they notice will be that of Peter Simpson, and in that, Simpson lives on to this day.