Willie Woodburn

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Willie Woodburn
Personal information
Full name William Woodburn
Date of birth (1919-08-06)6 August 1919
Place of birth Edinburgh, Scotland
Date of death 2 December 2001(2001-12-02) (aged 82)
Place of death Edinburgh, Scotland
Playing position Centre half
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1938–1954 Rangers 216 (2)
National team
1947–1952 Scotland 24 (0)
1947–1951 Scottish League XI 7 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

William 'Willie' Woodburn (8 August 1919 – 2 December 2001)[1] was a Scottish footballer. He was the last footballer in Britain to 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.

Football career[edit]


Born in Edinburgh, he played for junior side Edinburgh Ashton before signing as a professional for Rangers in October 1937.[2] He made his debut on 20 August 1938 in a 2-2 draw in the League against Motherwell. After the war he established himself in the Rangers side and won four League Championships with the club. He appeared in the first Scottish League Cup Final in April 1947, when Rangers beat Aberdeen 4-0.

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 28 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.


Woodburn won 24 caps for Scotland. He made his debut in a 1–1 draw with England at Wembley. Woodburn also appeared seven times for the Scottish League XI.[3]

Post retirement[edit]

After his retirement from football Woodburn ran a garage business before becoming a sportswriter with the News of the World.[4]


  1. ^ "Rangers legend Woodburn dies". BBC. BBC Sport. 3 December 2001. 
  2. ^ "Robust footballer whose career ended in a life ban". Brian Glanville. The Guardian. 11 December 2001. 
  3. ^ "Scotland FL Players by Appearances". Londonhearts.com. London Hearts Supporters' Club. Retrieved 27 November 2011. 
  4. ^ "Willie Woodburn". Phil Gordon. Independent. 6 December 2001. 

External links[edit]