Football: Return of the prodigal Son

Once Britain's most expensive footballer, Ian Wallace has gone back to his roots to manage Dumbarton. Phil Shaw met him at Boghead Park on Saturday

You could picture Brian Clough, wearing a green sweatshirt and a superior expression, jabbing a finger and cautioning Ian Wallace: "Hey, young man - you've achieved nothing yet."

True, but Wallace, whom Clough used to lump in with Justin Fashanu and Peter Ward as proof that he was hopeless at buying strikers, could be excused for beaming broadly after Dumbarton snatched a 2-2 draw against Clyde in stoppage time of his first match as manager.

It was not simply the brinkmanship which delighted Wallace, who became Britain's costliest footballer when he joined Nottingham Forest for pounds 1.25m in 1980 (or "pounds ! million" as a Freudian slip in Saturday's programme put it). In Dumbarton's position, which is once again perilously close to the foot of the Scottish Second Division, actually avoiding defeat represented a good day at the office.

The programme also carried nostalgic reminders of what Wallace, now 40 and running a newsagent's shop 20 miles away in Glasgow, achieved as a teenaged flier with "the Sons". There was a run to the Scottish Cup semi- finals, and a goal in a draw with Celtic, with 10,000 crammed into Boghead, which clinched his move to Coventry.

Dumbarton's greatest days were already sepia-tinted by then - they would have made the Champions' League in the Victorian era - but Wallace is determined to restore respectability. It will not be easy. On a day when another all-seater stadium was inaugurated at Inverness, the terraces of Scotland's oldest ground, opened in 1879, were strewn with scarcely 700 souls.

The surprise was that the faithful numbered as many as they did. Dumbarton do not, as yet, have bus loads of English anoraks patronising them like Cowdenbeath and the late Meadowbank Thistle. And eight points from a possible 120 was the kind of sequence to test the most fervent fan.

They began and finished well. The problem was the 85 minutes in between Billy Wilson's debut goal, made by Colin McKinnon's fine run, and the latter's equaliser. Clyde, the only team Dumbarton have beaten in the past 13 months, dominated after drawing level through Miller Mathieson's header.

Paul Brownlie, son of the former Newcastle and Scotland defender, John, then put the Cumbernauld side ahead with a 30 yard volley Mark Hughes would have killed for. All that could be seen of Wallace above the dug- out parapet was the familiar thatch of ginger hair.

Seeing anything in Clyde's goalmouth was becoming difficult, Dumbarton's floodlights making Estonia's look like the Blackpool illuminations. Out of the gloom, McKinnon loomed to head a soft goal which brought Wallace and his new coach, the splendidly named Ringo Watts, jumping on to the track.

Like Clough, who played him in the youth team after paying the record sum, Wallace said he planned to use "the pat on the back and the kick up the backside" as applicable. The commitment of his players, if not their class, suggested he had already struck a chord.

Success would be "finishing one place above relegation"; pressure was "something you bring on yourself - the game's there to be enjoyed." As for playing the transfer market, Dumbarton's hands are largely tied, despite the public-address announcer's claim that the winner of the half-time draw had scooped pounds 2m.

In fact, Wallace had already made his first signing overnight, lining up the impressive Wilson from Ayr at midnight and registering him minutes before the midday deadline. How much did he pay? "Don't know," replied the prodigal Son, adding in a manner Clough would have admired: "I just told the directors I wanted him and left it to them."

Goals: Wilson (5) 1-0; Mathieson (14) 1-1; Brownlie (67) 1-2; McKinnon (90) 2-2.

Dumbarton (4-4-2): K Meechan; Davidson, Marsland, J Meechan, Sharpe; Wilson, Mooney (Glancy, 80), King, McKenzie; McKinnon, Ward (Dallas, 74). Substitute not used: Goldie

Clyde (4-4-2): McLean; Ferguson, Brown, Knox, Prunty; McEwan, Gillies (Campbell, 56), Brownlie (Carrigan, 83), Gibson; Mathieson, Annand (Michael O'Neill 50).

Referee: A C Gemmill (Linlithgow).

Bookings: Dumbarton Mooney, King.

Attendance: 724.

Man of the match: Brownlie.

News
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the iWatch for you? Well, it depends if you want for the fitness tech, or the style
News
Astronauts could be kept asleep for days or even weeks
scienceScientists are looking for a way to keep astronauts in a sleeplike state for days or weeks
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own