Obituary: Jock Wallace
Friday 26 July 1996
Wallace had a frightening growl but a soft centre. The abiding image of him is that of the clenched fist, signifying the character he built into his teams - character which emanated from the man himself.
Before his successful first period at Ibrox from 1970 to 1978, Wallace had already ensured for the Glasgow club an unwanted place in the history books. As manager and goalkeeper of Berwick Rangers he defied the big name stars in the Rangers team of the time to help his side inflict perhaps the most embarrassing defeat in the history of the club, a 1-0 reverse in the 1967 Scottish Cup.
However Wallace more than repaid his debt to the club in subsequent years. He was appointed coach to the Rangers manager Willie Waddell in 1970 and with the help of the sand dunes of Gullane, on the Ayrshire coast, he helped shape the side which was to win the 1972 European Cup Winners' Cup. Leaning on his army background with the King's Own Scottish Borderers, Wallace reduced international football players to quivering wrecks after punishing training sessions on the Gullane sands. The exercise and the military precision with which he approached the job paid rich dividends.
Wallace ascended the marble staircase into the manager's office to succeed Waddell less than a month after the Cup Winners' Cup triumph and three years later, in 1975, he took Rangers to the League title to end Celtic's nine-in-a-row League run. It was Rangers' first title for 11 years and with his own team in place - he sold stars such as Colin Stein and Willie Johnston from Waddell's side - Wallace's new battalion won the domestic treble.
If his place in the history of Rangers was by then assured Wallace went further, repeating the feat two years later before stunning everyone in Scotland by leaving Rangers to join Leicester City in 1978. The reasons for his departure were never revealed. Despite creating a giant hill of earth at Leicester to recreate the dunes of Gullane, he failed to achieve success in England, returning to Motherwell, then back to Ibrox between 1983 and 1986. However, he failed to recapture his magic there, and gave way to the Graeme Souness era. He saw out the rest of his career at Seville, then Colchester.
Despite his achievements in football, Wallace fought the biggest battle of his life against Parkinson's disease, with which he was afflicted for many years. Against his toughest enemy he displayed both dignity and the character for which he will be remembered. Although he lived in Spain latterly his heart remained in Scotland, in particular at Ibrox, and he was given a rapturous reception from Rangers supporters on a recent visit there.John (Jock) Wallace, football player and manager: born Wallyford, Midlothian 6 September 1935; married 1960 Daphne Martin (one son, one daughter); died Basingstoke, Hampshire 24 July 1996.
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