'BIG JOCK', written by former Evening Times journalist David Leggat, is a unique and personal portrait of a Rangers legend.

In a SportTimes exclusive, Leggat looks at Wallace's finest hour and shock exit, the impact he had on Ally McCoist and what he would have made of the club he loved today.

Adapted by Chris Jack...



ON May 6, 1978, Jock Wallace reached the pinnacle of his managerial career ... and not just his Rangers managerial career.

It was on that afternoon at Hampden that Wallace stood supreme in Scottish football having captured his second Treble in three seasons.

In fact, that year Wallace had emerged as the runaway winner in the passionate battle of the two Big Jocks which had raged throughout Scottish football for six seasons.

During season 1977-78, Stein and Celtic's only challenge to Wallace and Rangers was to reach the Scottish League Cup Final in the first half of the campaign, a final in which they were to lose 2-1 to the Light Blues.

In the title race, Celtic had limped home in fifth place in the new 10-team league - 19 points behind Wallace's champions at a time when teams earned two points for a win.

Then, on that May afternoon, Rangers beat Aberdeen 2-1 to lift the Scottish Cup and earn Wallace his second Treble in three campaigns.

No wonder the Rangers support at Hampden - more than 45,000 of them in the 61,000 crowd at the old football fortress - celebrated deliriously.

Not only had they watched their team play superbly to see off Aberdeen more easily than the scoreline suggested, they were also convinced Wallace had finally seen off Stein, whose spectre had haunted Rangers since the spring of 1965.

No matter what Rangers won, and that included the European Cup-Winners' Cup in 1972 and the Treble in 1976, Stein remained a formidable presence.

For now, though, Wallace had the undoubted upper hand.

The Rangers manager had delivered his own riposte to the critics who always venerated Stein as a tactical wizard while decrying the Wallace methods as being no more than blood and thunder, almost prehistoric in an age of increasing reliance on sophisticated tactics and systems.

Despite his gruff exterior, Wallace was a deep thinker when it came to football and he knew the importance of what he achieved.

That is, he was well aware of his successes in a wider context rather than merely an act of winning a second Treble in three seasons, which was an extraordinary feat in its own right and one which no manager, Rangers or other, has achieved since.

Wallace knew that, with the right sort of planning, strategy and foresight, Rangers could be set for a period of dominance stretching ahead for years.

In fact, there is every reason to suppose that had Wallace been allowed to carry out his plans, Rangers could have continued that sort of stranglehold over Celtic on into the early 1980s.

Instead, they did not re-emerge as a major power until later in the decade, a period of dominance which lasted until the start of the 21st century when Martin O'Neill arrived at Parkhead and simply blew away Dick Advocaat.

The fact that it did not pan out that way was the result of a personality clash inside Ibrox between two men with overpowering personalities - Wallace and Willie Waddell, his predessor in the dugout and a man who was, in effect, the manager's boss.

The battle of wills between Wallace and Waddell could not go on indefinitely. Both wanted what they believed was best for Rangers. Wallace believed in Waddell's blueprint for the new £11million Ibrox, which was completed in 1981 and still forms the basis of the stadium as it is today.

But he also needed cash to create a team that could reign over Scottish football and believed Waddell should find it.

On the other hand, Waddell had costed the scheme and knew how much he had to spare down to the last penny and he was just as insistent that the cupboard was bare.

That was more or less the state of play in the two weeks following Wallace completing his second Treble.

Relations were soon in crisis, and Wallace's breaking point came when Waddell brushed aside his approaches for talks over his own contract Wallace rightly had a fair idea of his worth and did not think he was getting a fair crack of the whip.

In that second Treble-winning season he earned slightly more than £25,000 and reckoned he was due a big increase. Waddell refused to discuss it.

Both men, Rangers through and through, circled each other, growling like a pair of old lions battling to become leader of the pack.

There could only be one winner and Wallace knew he could not retain his self-respect if he stayed. For such a proud man, that overcame even his deep love of, and commitment, to Rangers. On May 23, 1978, just 17 days after his Treble-clinching Scottish Cup Final, Jock Wallace stunned Rangers by resigning.

Instead of that second Treble signalling the start of something good, it signalled the onset of a dreadful spell for Rangers which saw them go nine years without winning the title.

And nobody felt the hurt and pain of that more than Wallace. For nobody anywhere knew better than Big Jock what might have been.



JOCK WALLACE was born into a football family and was a football man for every one of his 60 years.

On top of that, no matter where his wanderings took him, all over the North and Midlands of England as a player and a manager and into the jungles of Malaya as a soldier, Jock was a dyed-in-the-wool Rangers man.

He believed in doing the right, especially where Rangers was concerned.

And he would have been appalled at some of the people who have made their way up the Marble Stairs and into the Blue Room in recent years, for he knew what the sacred trust of being a Ranger, spoken about by Bill Struth, truly meant.

He had a habit of giving his friends, myself included, a playful dig in the ribs on occasion.

Some of those who have flaunted themselves in the Blue Room would have got more than a playful dig from Big Jock, a man who never stood on his own dignity but who was always mindful of Rangers' dignity.



JOHN GREIG was toiling to decide the best position for a player he had trailed for four years.

Ally McCoist was used out on the wing, on the right side of midfield and as a left-sided midfield man, but he was seldom in the firing line.

The striker's confidence was at an all-time low.

Then Greig was replaced by Jock Wallace, who hauled McCoist off the day Dundee dumped Rangers out of the Scottish Cup at Ibrox in 1985.

Never the most popular of players, some fans hoped they had seen and heard the last of Ally McCoist.

Fortunately for Rangers in the weeks, months and, indeed, years which followed, Wallace was the most important McCoist supporter of them all and he knew those fed-up fans were wrong. Spectacularly so.

Years later, as Wallace and I stood at the bar in a Glasgow hotel after some function, we saw McCoist - by then a goalscoring hero and an icon - holding court in the centre of the room.

I reminded Jock about that day against Dundee and asked him what it was about McCoist that made him throw him back in against Celtic in a cup final just eight days later.

The reply was straightforward and typical. He said: "He always came back for more no matter how hard it was. He was also a helluva player. But it was his character which meant he would do for me."

Wallace, as shrewd a judge of a man as he was of a footballer, was bang on the money again. And events at Hampden the following weekend proved that.

For two hours, the battle raged as Wallace crouched forward from his seat in the old Hampden dugouts, shook his fist at his players and urged them on to a famous victory: a victory based on the character Wallace put so much store by and a triumph sealed by a McCoist hat-trick as he started on the road to legendary status - thanks to Jock Wallace's judgment.

'BIG JOCK: THE REAL JOCK WALLACE' (Black & White Publishing, £9.99) is available to buy online and in store now. ISBN: 9781845027902.