THE FOUNDERS TRAIL are continuing to chart the history of the club in written form with this the sixth blog that we’ll publish on the website.
Since 2009, over 5,000 people have made the trip around Glasgow on the Trail of our Founders and through the doors of Ibrox Stadium, many for the first time.
Through the education process of the Founders Trail the objective is to safeguard our unique and wonderful Rangers story for future generations and this is the latest blog from the Founders Trail looking back through the history of the Gers:
On the 27th May 1856 the Rangers great that was Tom Vallance was born.
His Rangers team-mates from the 1870s said ‘’The whole of Rangers loved him like a brother’.’
Over the years of our research into the formation of our Club, one name kept popping up time and again and that’s the name of Tom Vallance who has, on reflection, been sadly overlooked.
Tom was born at a small farmhouse known as Succoth near Renton in the parish of Cardross in 1856. When young he moved with his family to the Old Toll House at Shandon on the Gareloch.
He came to Glasgow in the early 1870s following the path taken by his friends from the Gareloch, the brothers McNeil and Campbell.
Vallance went on to have an astonishing 60 year association with the Club, and his is an incredible CV.
He was a master oarsman, a champion athlete (he set a Scottish long jump record of over 21 feet), he studied at the Glasgow School of Art, had paintings accepted by the Royal Scottish Academy and was Rangers Club Captain and President for many years.
We have recorded details of Vallance being present at the ceremony held on 1st January 1929 which saw the opening of the Main Stand at Ibrox and also at a dinner which was held in the St.Enoch’s Hotel after a Rangers match in 1933 when we faced Sporting Club of Vienna.
So, the lad who was present at Fleshers Haugh in 1872 was still attending Ibrox some 60 years later where the Club that he’d helped form and nurture were now playing in front of crowds in excess of 100,000.
Tom was a very successful businessman. He had The Club restaurant at 22 Paisley Road West which today is the Viceroy Bar, The Metropolitan which stood on Hutchison Street in the Merchant City area of Glasgow and the Lansdowne which was at 183 Hope Street.
Tom would actually have the Rangers results wired to his restaurants for the benefit of his patrons as early as 1890.
When Rangers moved to First Ibrox in 1887 it was said that it was common for Club President Vallance to be working the turnstiles on matchday.
At the opening of the Main Stand in 1929 Tom Vallance recalled the facilities being so cramped at the Rangers ground at Kinning Park that the players would have to wash in basins of cold water in the open air.
It was the teenage Tom Vallance who helped lay the very foundations upon which our Club was built, hard-work, discipline, honesty, integrity and fair play.
Mr Struth said during that famous speech “No matter the days of anxiety that come our way, we shall emerge stronger because of the trials to be overcome. That has been the philosophy of the Rangers since the days of the Gallant Pioneers.”
Tom was paid the ultimate accolade by the Club in May 1898 when he was made a life member. As a lasting tribute to the incredible contribution he made to our Club we had Tom put on to canvas by way of a painting by artist Helen Runciman.
Tom Vallance has now taken his rightful place at the top of the Marble Staircase alongside his friends and fellow Founders.
Tom died on 16th February 1935 aged 78 at 189 Pitt Street Glasgow. He is buried in Hillfoot Cemetery in Bearsden and his funeral was attended by Mr Struth, Chairman James Bowie and his old team-mate James McIntyre who both took a cord.
Incredibly, players from the Vale of Leven team whom Tom had faced 60 years earlier in 1877 were also in attendance. That will give you an indication as to how highly regarded Tom Vallance was.
Today we celebrate the life of Tom Vallance.