SAMMY WILSON ( 1936-2022)

Everyone at Falkirk Football Club was saddened to hear of the passing of Sammy Wilson.

Older Falkirk fans will remember Sammy as a clever, direct old-fashioned centre-forward who certainly knew the way to goal and represented the club on six occasions as a Northern Ireland player.

He was born in Dromore County Down and soon showed great promise as a schoolboy and developed as a youth player before signing Amateur forms in 1955-56 with Belfast side Crusaders.

His first club as a professional was Lurgan side Glenavon and he had already made a name for himself after representing Northern Ireland at Youth and B International level. It was at Glenavon, that he was converted from an outside right to a centre-forward and never looked back. With Glenavon, he won Irish League caps and collected winners’ medals in the Irish League and major cups. He was a key member of the Glenavon side who won the treble in 1956-57 with Irish League, Irish Cup and Gold Cup successes. His potential was noted by Bairns manager Alex McCrae who knew the Northern Ireland scene well having been a player-manager with Ballymena United.

Sammy arrived at Brockville and soon impressed team-mates and supporters alike with his direct style. He scored on his debut, a 2-0 home win against St.Mirren. He formed a good understanding with Hughie Maxwell and the pair finished as joint top league scorers with 17 goals each.  His return from only twenty-five league  games was impressive. He scored for Northern Ireland in his second appearance for his country, against Scotland at Windsor Park, in a 2-1 win and netted twice against England at Wembley in a big 8-3 win for Alf Ramsey’s side.

Season 1964-65 was blighted by injuries, and he missed 14 league games. He played in the memorable 6-2 win over Jock Stein’s Celtic and scored one of the goals. Season 1965-66 was to be his last for Falkirk and his final appearance came in a 3-0 defeat at Firs Park to Motherwell.

Sammy moved to Dundee on March 1st 1966 signing for manager Bobby Ancell for a fee reported to be in the region of £15,000. With Dundee, he won a Scottish League Cup runners-up medal. After his spell at Dens, he returned to Ireland and signed for Coleraine who were managed at the time by Bertie Peacock.

His international career was impressive, and he earned twelve caps in total, seven of them as a Falkirk player. As a Bairn, he played against Scotland, Spain and England in 1963 and in the following year against Wales, Uruguay, England and Switzerland. He scored a total of seven goals for Northern Ireland.

After retiring, Sammy returned to his native Dromore, where he became a farmer, auctioneer and estate agent. Sammy came back to the Falkirk area for one last visit when he was a popular guest at The Hall of Fame Dinner at The Inchyra Grange Hotel and spoke warmly of his time at Brockville.

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