Hall of Famer
Inducted in 1971
Chairman of the Board, National Soccer League
Team Manager, Canada's first World Cup Team
Vice-President, Canadian Soccer Association
President, Canadian Soccer Association
Bill Simpson, also known as "Mr. Soccer," was one of Canada's leading soccer figures for nearly 50 years. As player, coach, promoter, and administrator, he fostered and encouraged the development of the sport in Canada, a country that has long been considered a distant outpost in world soccer. Essentially an imported game, soccer has drawn its support from immigrant groups, proud of their ethnic links and naturally carrying with them into their adopted homeland much of their intense partisanship. Bill Simpson came to realize that the future of the game in Canada depended on its Canadianization, on a development from the grass roots of native clubs with names that could have a strong North American association. He always had this objective in view during the many years in which he was associated with the administration of the game, serving as an executive member of the Ontario Soccer Association, the Toronto and District Soccer Association, and the Canadian Soccer Association. Simpson was born in Paisley, Scotland in 1894, and very early on developed a love for soccer. As a youth, his greatest ambition was to play for the Glasgow Rangers, and he was a very unwilling immigrant when his parents decided to move to Canada in 1911. Once overseas, Simpson at first gave up his dream of becoming a soccer star and got a job with Consumer's Gas. He played football on the company team, but was later persuaded by George Imlach (Punch Imlach's father), manager of the Toronto Fraserburg soccer team, to get back into the game. Simpson developed into a talented inside forward and soon moved up into senior soccer to play for Davenport Albion, and later for the Toronto Scottish, which won the league championship in 1919. He played for the Caledonians of the Interprovincial League from 1921 to 1925, and the Toronto City Soccer Club of the International Professional League in 1926. He also worked as assistant tour manager for visiting teams from Europe, including his boyhood heroes, the Glasgow Rangers. After his retirement from the field in 1930, Simpson naturally moved into administration. He was elected to the board of directors of the Toronto and District Soccer League in 1931 and later served as president from 1949 to 1966. He was also instrumental in organizing the National Soccer League in Ontario, as well as the Eastern Canada Professional League, which later became known as the North American Professional League. Perhaps his most valuable work on behalf of soccer in Canada came during his reign as president of the Canadian Soccer Association (which has also been known as the Dominion of Canada Football Association, the Football Association of Canada, and the Canadian Soccer Football Association throughout the years). After his election in 1965, he conducted a survey on the status of the sport across the country which led to the launch of a four-year plan to improve Canadian soccer through the development of national coaches, game officials, minor soccer programs, and a national team. Simpson also worked tirelessly to promote Canadian participation on the international soccer scene. He was team manager in 1957 when the first Canadian soccer team entered into World Cup competition in Mexico. Though Canada did not qualify for the finals, Simpson recalled that one of the greatest thrills of his life "was in 1957 before 100,000 people in Mexico as our flag was being raised to our national anthem." Thanks to the dedicated work of Bill Simpson, soccer continues to grow and thrive in Canada. It is currently one of the most popular recreational sports in the country, while professional teams have made significant progress in international competition.