ANY team in any sport requires a leader, organiser and inspiration and Tom Vallance possessed all of these qualities when he joined the fledging Rangers and became the Club’s first great captain.

Indeed his leadership skills earned him the post of President for six years after his playing days were over.

He was a giant of the man for the period in the sense that 6ft 2ins was extraordinarily tall at that time and he was stalwart performer for Rangers in these formative years.

Like many men in the Victorian era he became a keen amateur rower and athlete, having moved to Shandon from the Renton area.

During the 1870s he arrived in Glasgow to work as a civil engineer, and then became a mechanical engineer working in a number of the Clyde shipyards. He started playing football with some fellow rowers on Glasgow Green in order to keep fit, and he quickly became aware of the team started by Moses McNeil and was soon a Rangers player.

He was in the team that played its first competitive match on October 12, 1874 when they beat Oxford in the Scottish Cup and he was a key figure in the early days.

Vallance played for Rangers for nine seasons at right back with such distinction that he was made captain in 1876.

He won six international caps between 1877 and 1881, representing Scotland against England and Wales.

According to Rangers’ historian John Allan, Vallance was “Tall and spare, he administered many a shock to opponents who had not previously made his acquaintance, for he was big-boned and could take or give a charge with any man.”

In 1882 Vallance retired from football and travelled to Assam in India to work as an engineer on a tea estate.

He was presented with 50 sovereigns at the Bridge Street Station Hotel and a large crowd of well-wishers turned out at Central Station to watch him leave for London.

Ill health forced him to return, however, and soon he was back in Rangers colours although his top team appearances were rare and he took to playing for the club’s “Ancients” team in charity and challenge matches.

In 1883 he was elected President of the club and continued in the post for six years.

After his return from Assam, Vallance turned his back on engineering. He worked for a few years as a travelling salesman for a wine and spirit merchant and then for a brewer.

During the early 1890s he opened a licensed restaurant, The Club, at Paisley Road Toll. Its success encouraged him to acquire other licensed premises in Glasgow’s city centre, and he became a leading figure in the trade, serving as President of the Restaurateurs and Hotelkeepers association in 1906.

Vallance was not only distinguished in his football career. He was a fine athlete, and a Scottish record holder in the long jump. He was also an artist of note, and the Royal Scottish Academy accepted two of his paintings.

Born: May 27, 1856, Renton

Appearances: 37.