MPs pay tributes to ‘hugely respected’ former Rangers manager Walter Smith

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Former Rangers manager Walter Smith receiving an honorary degree from Glasgow Caledonian University (Danny Lawson/PA) (PA Wire)
Former Rangers manager Walter Smith receiving an honorary degree from Glasgow Caledonian University (Danny Lawson/PA) (PA Wire)

Tributes have been paid in the House of Commons to Walter Smith as a unifying and “hugely respected” figure in Glasgow.

The former Rangers Everton and Scotland boss died on October 26 at the age of 73.

SNP MP Brendan O’Hara, a Celtic fan, led a debate in the Commons paying tribute to the former football manager.

He said: “Walter Smith’s career hasn’t been a source of great personal joy and happiness for me.

“Far from it.

“Save a brief period as manager of Scotland, Walter’s career was a cause of great personal angst and unhappiness for me, as his team all too regularly wiped the floor with mine.”

But he added: “Walter Smith had a remarkable managerial career, one which will live long in the memory.

“But perhaps more importantly Walter Smith will be remembered as being a thoroughly decent and honourable man.

“A man who despite proudly wearing his Rangers colours managed to cut across the maelstrom of football rivalry in Glasgow, and was a hugely respected figure on the green half of the city too.”

Rangers fan and DUP MP Jim Shannon (Strangford) said Smith’s “legacy of passion on the pitch and respect off the pitch” was demonstrated by supporters and prominent from many clubs attending his funeral.

Bertie Auld (Richard Sellers/PA) (PA Archive)
Bertie Auld (Richard Sellers/PA) (PA Archive)

SNP MP Stewart McDonald (Glasgow South), who described himself as the “token Rangers fan” of the SNP group in Westminster, said: “For me, he was a childhood hero and it has been great to hear the history of Walter’s career this evening.”

And the MP for North East Fife, Liberal Democrat MP Wendy Chamberlain, said Smith’s “talent as a manager was pretty much unsurpassed in Scottish football”.

Tributes were also paid to former Celtic midfielder Bertie Auld, who died earlier this month.

Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine (Edinburgh West) said: “Perhaps the thing that Walter Smith and Bertie Auld had in common was that they did manage to bring together both sides of a city which can be very divided in a way that showed us a positive way ahead, and that they have actually done a great deal to change attitudes.”

“Both were legends of the game,” Conservative MP for Moray Douglas Ross said.

Government minister for culture and sport Nigel Huddleston paid tribute to Smith’s career as Scotland manager, telling MPs “he helped to unite a nation of football fans”.

He also wished the current Scotland side luck in the Football World Cup play-offs, saying: “Smith would have been delighted with the progress of the national team on Friday.”

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