'Big Jock - The Real Jock Wallace'
- 10 December 2014
Here at the Rangers Standard we always like to promote writing about the club and those connected to it, so it was a pleasure to catch up with David Leggat and hear some more about his book 'Big Jock - The Real Jock Wallace'.
Leggat speaks with passion and genuine affection for the former Rangers manager who he came to know well and call a friend.
"Jock Wallace is actually the third Rangers manager in the last two years that I've written a biography about. I started with Scot Symon, followed up with Bill Struth last year and now I've moved onto Big Jock."
"Anyone reading the book will soon become aware that I knew Big Jock pretty well. Although I'd met him when he was manager of Rangers the first time, we became friends when he became manager of Leicester and I was working in the Midlands as a sports journalist."
"Scots gravitate towards each other in football. If you found out you were Scots then you became close. If you found out you were both bluenoses then that added the icing to the cake. I got to know him very well then and we both moved back to Scotland within about a year of each other."
Leggat visibly bristles at attacks on Wallace over the years from certain familiar sections of the press.
"Jock's story is a wonderful story. From his earlier years in the army, some of the stories he used to tell about what happened to him in the jungle.Those are not in the book as I would respect his confidences on some of those stories. This was a very rough, tough man but with a very soft, kindly side."
"Some people, notably the discredited Graham Spiers, have tried to paint Jock Wallace as a bigot. Let me tell you, I engaged in many a sing song with Jock in his office at Leicester. His youth team coach was a wonderful giant of a man called Eddie May who used to wonder what we were singing about, but they were all Rangers songs. Some of which I actually managed to teach big Jock! He would growl at you "Where did you learn that?" and I would always tease him and say " Ach Jock you have to remember you're only a first generation bluenose"."
"Since these innacurate attacks, the idea what Jock Wallace was a bigot has taken root in the minds of bigots. He never was. If you read the book you'll find out what he had to say about Rangers signing Mo Johnston and it will be revealed how Jock had tried to sign him."
It irritates Leggat, and in truth should irritate all Rangers fans, that Wallace has not received the credit he deserves from the Scottish footbal community. It is also clear he feels it is a challenge for Rangers figures to pass the scrutiny of the panel for the Scottish Football Hall of Fame.
"Jock Wallace is one of only two managers in Scotland to win two trebles but is not in the Hampden Hall of Fame at the Scottish Football Museum. When I wrote the book about Symon, he was also not in the Hall of Fame and it was only the following year that he was finally inducted into it."
"They rightly opened the gates for Jock Stein to be inducted into the Hall of Fame the first year, but it took 5 years for Bill Struth to be included."
Leggat reserves particular ire for Andrew Smith of the Scotsman newspaper, formerly of the Celtic View, who as recently as the past week has been churning out more 'new club', Flat Earth Society nonsense about Rangers.
"It doesn't really surprise me that Jock Wallace has been overlooked and not much fuss has been made about it. When someone like Andrew H Smith sits on the panel, with his attitude toward Rangers, it is no wonder that people like Symon and Big Jock have been overlooked.
"But the Rangers support also needs to be more proactive in these situations. Can you imagine what an uproar there would have been from the other side of the city if it had taken 5 years for Jock Stein to be inducted into the hall of fame?"
"There are 98 people in it. People who have made great contributions. One of them is Rose Reilly who I'm sure has made a contribution to the Scottish football story but I do wonder how it stands in comparison to Jock Wallace? I also wonder how many of the others included stand in comparison to Jock."
"Wallace managed Berwick Rangers to one of the most amazing Scottish Cup upsets. He coached Rangers to a European trophy. He won two trebles. He gave Gary Lineker his debut at Leicester. He has a remarkable story as a football man, yet the journalists perceive the contribution of 98 people to be greater than Jock Wallace's. I'd be interested to hear them make some sort of statement explaining that."
Leggat also feels that the character of someone like Jock is sorely missing at Ibrox in the present day.
"He is the first manager I've written a biography of that I've known personally. It made writing it quite poignant for me as I'd remember times with Jock and wonder what he would think about what's going on today."
"But really I didn't have to wonder too much because a fit Jock Wallace, in his pomp, would have taken a few of these moral pygmies that inhabit Ibrox these days by the scruff of the neck and turfed them out the front door, probably one in each hand. It is people of his stature that Rangers miss."
David Leggat will be signing copies of BIG JOCK in the Braehead branch of Waterstones on Thursday December 11th, from 6pm.
BIG JOCK – The Real Jock Wallace by David Leggat is published by Black and White.
David Leggat has also written GREAT SCOT – The James Scotland Symon Story and STRUTH – The Story Of An Ibrox Legend, both also published by Black and White.
He has also written an espionage/thriller THE KENNEDY KILL, published by Olympia.